Contextualist Inquiry into E-Commerce Institutionalization in Developing Countries: The Case of Mozambican Women-led SMMES
Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management
Aim/Purpose: This study explores how women-led SMMEs in developing countries, specifically in the Mozambican context, institutionalise e-commerce by focusing on the ongoing interaction between the SMME, its context, and process of e-commerce institutionalization. Background: It is believed that institutionalization of e-commerce provides significant benefits of unlimited access to new markets, and access to new, improved, inexpensive and convenient operational methods of transacting. Although
... sacting. Although prior studies have examined the adoption of e-commerce and the enabling and constraining factors, few have examined e-commerce (i) institutionalization (that is, post-adoption), and (ii) from a gender perspective. This study aims to respond to this paucity in the literature by exploring how women-led SMMEs in developing countries, specifically in the Mozambican context, institutionalise e-commerce. Methodology: The study follows a qualitative inquiry approach for both data collection and analysis. Semi-structured interviews were adopted for data collection and thematic analysis implemented on the data. SMMEs were purposively sampled to allow for the selection of information-rich SMMEs for study and specifically those that have gone through the experience of adoption and in some cases have institutionalized e-commerce. Contribution: The empirical findings explain how the institutionalization process from interactive e-commerce to transactive e-commerce unfolds in the Mozambican context. Findings: Transition from interactive to transactive e-commerce is firstly influenced by (i) the type of business the SMME is engaged in; and (ii) customer and trading partner's readiness for e-commerce. Secondly, the transition process is influenced by the internal factors of (i) manager's demographic factors; (ii) mimetic behaviour arising from exposure to (foreign) organizations in the same industry that have mature forms of e-commerce; (iii) the business networks developed with some of these organizations that have mature forms of e-commerce; (iv) access to financial resources; and (v) social media technologies. Thirdly, the process is influenced by external contextual factors of (i) limited government intervention towards e-commerce endeavors; (ii) limited to lack of financial institutions readiness for e-commerce; (iii) lack of local available IT expertise; (iv) consumer's low purchasing power due to economic recessions; (vi) international competitive pressure; and (vii) sociocultural practices. Recommendations for Practitioners: The study provides SMME managers, practitioners, and other stakeholders concerned with women's development with a better understanding of the process in order to develop appropriate policies and interventions that are suitable for the reality of women-led SMMEs in Mozambique and other developing countries with similar contextual characteristics. Recommendation for Researchers: The study contributes to the existing debate of e-commerce and the use of ICT for development in developing countries by providing a distinct contribution of the institutionalization process and how the contextual structures influence this process. Impact on Society: Women-led SMME managers can learn from the different experiences, and compare their e-commerce efforts with SMMEs that were able to institutionalize and make strategies for improvements within their organizations. Future Research: The manner in which women-led SMMEs employ e-commerce requires further investigation to understand how issues related to gender, the cultural context, and different regions or countries impact this process.