Poster Paper: Designing Micro-Enterprise Development Programs: An Empirical Investigation of Significant Factors for Effective Information Technology Interventions

Thursday, November 8, 2012
Liberty A & B (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Changsoo Song, University of Nebraska, Omaha

The development of micro-enterprise, which is commonly defined as a very small business with five or fewer employees, has contributed to boosting or stabilizing local and national economies (Grosh & Somolekae, 1996; Macke, 2000) and/or enhancing economic equality among our society (Schreiner 1999; Strier 2010) as micro-enterprises often represent underserved communities or classes. Recognizing the importance of micro-enterprise development, the government has operated various kinds of business support programs for micro-enterprises (Schreiner & Woller, 2003; Servon, 2006). This research aims to provide practical implications for designing and implementing effective information technology (IT) support policies and programs for micro-enterprise development.

Micro-enterprises, the prevalent form of business in the U.S. and across the world, stand to benefit the most by using IT to achieve better access to new markets, knowledge and information (Qureshi, 2005) and enable their businesses to become more competitive through increased business productivity (Stiroh, 2001; Varian, 2003). However, IT adoption by micro-enterprises is limited due to various challenges they uniquely face, including a lack of funding, knowledge, and skills (Wolcott, Kamal & Qureshi, 2008). Meanwhile, the government policies and programs to support micro-enterprises’ IT adoption have been limited in its number and approach (Song & Qureshi, 2010); they are suffering from a lack of theoretical and empirical foundations. A good understanding of the significant factors influencing micro-enterprises’ IT adoption is a prerequisite to designing and implementing an effective IT intervention for micro-enterprises that may facilitate better and/or more IT adoption by micro-enterprises, which in turn may result in the growth of micro-enterprises through increased productivity enabled by IT.

There have been numerous empirical studies on the generic factors that would affect IT acceptance(e.g., Davis, 1989; Venkatesh, 2003). However, the findings from these studies have been more or less inconsistent in terms of the significance of the individual constructs employed in the studies (Lee, Kozar & Larsen, 2003). In addition, no single study that provides generalizable findings has been conducted about micro-enterprises’ IT adoption. Therefore, it would be difficult to say in general which factors are significantly important to the micro-enterprises’ IT adoption context. This study tries to bridge this knowledge gap by answering the following research question: What are the significant factors that would influence micro-enterprises’ IT adoption, and how could they be modeled in a way to better explain micro-enterprises’ IT adoption? We answer the research question by identifying potential constructs (or factors) through a literature review and preliminary field research and then by conducting a cross-sectional national mail survey to collect research data and analyzing collected data through structural equation modeling.

The research will provide practical implications for policy makers who need to understand the factors influencing micro-enterprises’ IT adoption. The audience will have an opportunity to discuss the unique context of micro-enterprises’ IT adoption and its implications for designing and implementing an effective IT intervention program for micro-enterprise development. The research will also suggest an analytical framework that may assist researchers and practitioners in analyzing and evaluating the current IT intervention policies and programs.