Factors Affecting E-commerce Adoption Among SMEs
: A Case Study Investigation of a Developing Economy - Pakistan

  • Muhammad Nazir

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The main objective of this study is to increase the knowledge base on the factors affecting adoption of e-commerce in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As such the study evaluates and extends the Technology-Organisation-Environment (TOE) framework developed by Tornatzky and Fleischer (1990) by adding an individual context. A qualitative interpretative research approach is adopted with the case study as the research plan, and the philosophical approach adopted is predominantly epistemology and methodology.
The context within which this study is set is SMEs within the developing economy of Pakistan. Eight case studies were chosen with three participants from each; giving a total of 24 participants. At the time of data collection, all participants were either owner-manager/chief executive officers or managers within departments. Qualitative data were collected by applying data triangulation techniques including face-to-face and telephone interviews, direct observation, documentary evidence and website content. Data were then analysed using thematic techniques.
Using the extant literature and the data collected in this study (particularly in relation to the extended individual context), it is found that the following factors in particular influence the adoption (or not) of e-commerce within the participating Pakistani SMEs: (i) availability and quality of the latest ICT infrastructure units, (ii) national online readiness, (iii) internet speed, (iv) online payment security and data privacy mechanism, (v) power outages, (vi) organisational size and structure, (vii) website availability and ease of payment facility, (viii) inadequate financial and ICT skilled expertise (HR), (ix) traditional business selling methods, (x) consumer preference for cash on-delivery payments, (xi) lack of consumer confidence in e-commerce, (xii) technological awareness and education in society, (xiii) lack of government and local business institutes’ support and (xiv) owner-managers and senior management characteristics.
This study contributes to the knowledge base for better understanding the adoption factors of e-commerce and supports the use of the extended TOE model. The qualitative results are useful not only for SMEs themselves, but also for policymakers, governments and local business institutes, and future researchers. In terms of the limitations of the study, the study is limited as it concerns only SMEs in three cities in Pakistan (Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi). Other qualitative and quantitative studies could include SMEs from different rural areas of Pakistan. In addition, it would be interesting to compare the results with those of other developing economies in the Southeast region.
Date of Award1 Dec 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorXiaoxian Zhu (Supervisor)

Cite this