This paper explores three inter-related issues: globalisation; the role of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs); and electronic commerce (e-commerce). A central question is whether e-commerce offers advantages to SMEs that may facilitate their access to global markets and help them overcome the disadvantages they face vis-à-vis large transnational corporations (TNCs)? The paper starts by briefly considering the extent of globalisation and its relationship to free trade. We then go on to consider recent developments in e-commerce, focusing on the key issue of e-payment systems. Differences in the requirements of large and smaller firms are identified, and we identify a number of key issues concerning access of smaller firms to e-payment systems and the (virtual) market place, and outline their implications for regulatory policy. Our analysis highlights the importance of network externalities, and institutional factors affecting trust and the relationships amongst different economic actors. This leads to a consideration of networking and public policies more broadly. One of the central conclusions of our analysis is that there are important synergies between e-commerce (virtual) networks and (real) production networks. This suggests that policy makers and smaller firms should think in terms of extending existing, and catalysing new, real production networks to incorporate e-payment systems for networks of firms in order to facilitate their access to virtual markets.
Small Business Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 30, 2004
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