Date: 02 Oct 2012

Towards the Redesign of e-Business Maturity Models for SMEs

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Abstract

This paper shows the results of the conceptual part of a research aimed at redesigning e-business stage models for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). The literature review shows that these models are based mostly on a techno-centric perspective and are rather mechanistic in their approach to the development of e-business in smaller firms. Based on design science—which offers a methodology capable of understanding business needs deriving from the interplay of people, organization and technology—a non-linear stage model for the development of e-business in SMEs is proposed. Different levels of interaction in the exchange of information between a firm and its suppliers and customers characterize e-business: the model includes four levels and it outlines their main organizational implications. The model is not meant to be prescriptive, that is it is not intended to serve as an evaluation ladder for public administrations deciding to grant financial support to SMEs investing in e-business. Rather, it has an interpretive, organizational character: (i) entrepreneurs can be supported in their understanding and evaluation of the organizational needs connected with the exploitation of a given opportunity by means of different levels of digital interaction and (ii) policy makers can be guided in promoting the appropriate support (e.g.: training and advisory services) to different kinds of SMEs.