Small businesses play an important role in the U.S. economy and there is anecdotal evidence that use of the Web is beneficial to such businesses. There is, however, little systematic analysis of the conditions that lead to successful use of and thereby benefits from the Web for small businesses. Based on the innovation adoption, organizations, and information systems (IS) implementation literature, we identify a set of variables that are related to adoption, use, and benefits of information technology (IT), with particular emphasis on small businesses. These variables are reflective of an organization's contextual characteristics, its IT infrastructure, Web use, and Web benefits. Since the extant research does not suggest a single theoretical model for Web use and benefits in the context of small businesses, we adopt a modeling approach and explore the relationships between “context‐IT‐use‐benefit” (CIUB) through three models—partial‐mediator, reduced partial‐mediator, and mediator. These models posit that the extent of Web use by small businesses and the associated benefits are driven by organizations’ contextual characteristics and their IT infrastructure. They differ in the endogeneity/exogeneity of the extent of IT sophistication, and in the direct/mediated effects of organizational context. We examine whether the relationships between variables identified in the literature hold within the context of these models using two samples of small businesses with national coverage, including various sizes, and representing several industry sectors. The results show that the evidence for patterns of relationships is similar across the two independent samples for two of these models. We highlight the relationships within the reduced partial‐mediator and mediator models for which conclusive evidence are given by both samples. Implications for small business managers and providers of Web‐based technologies are discussed.
Decision Sciences – Wiley
Published: Aug 1, 2003
Keywords: ; ; ; ;
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