This article sets out to critically evaluate the impact that higher education institution (HEI)-based consultancy can have upon the adoption and use of e-commerce by businesses units operating in the small business sector of the British economy. Anecdotal evidence suggests that "new" (post-1992) universities are more likely to offer consultancy services to small businesses. It is also claimed that owner/managers seem reluctant to pay full economic prices and would only subscribe to HEI-based consultancy services if and when these are supported by considerable subsidies. In order to test the owner/manager reluctance hypothesis, 60 matched case studies were conducted, involving small businesses based in the West Midlands region of Great Britain. Preliminary results indicate that most small business owner/managers are aware of the potential benefits accruing from ICT and e-commerce and tend to use HEI-based consultancy services as a subsidised access point to e-markets, involving both their core and peripheral activities. There exists, however, an apparent mismatch between the supply and demand sides of the HEI-based ICT and e-commerce consultancy market.
Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 1, 2003
Keywords: Consultants; Universities; Small enterprises; United Kingdom
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