There is no business like small business: the use and meaning of ICTs for micro-enterprises

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The aim of this article is to illustrate the blurring boundaries between professional and private life in the context of the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in a small business. Despite their preponderance in society and the economy, there is still a substantial lack of exact figures and understanding of these characteristics in relation to ICTs in small and very small businesses. Our assumption is that in order to fully grasp the role, meaning and significance of ICT in a small business setting, we need to involve also these factors going beyond the typical business economics parameters. This implies complementing the 'economic dynamics' of the business company with the 'social dynamics' of the business entrepreneur. The latter refers to characteristics like the type of professional work and to the private life.

In order to tackle the issue of social dynamics in relation to ICT use in small businesses, we need to identify the main characteristics that help explaining the ICT situation. For this an analytical framework is used, based on former qualitative research, which incorporates relevant economic and social factors relating to the meaning and significance of ICT for the owner of a micro-enterprise (Pierson, 2000). The value of these factors for small businesses in Flanders is measured by way of a number of specific parameters within a quantitative telephone survey. The focus is on the computer in the office, looking at three key indicators: the presence of a computer in the business, the frequency of use by the self-employed owner and the self-assessed computer knowledge of the latter. However, key figures on other ICTs are also included.

Based on these indicators we find a digital divide among micro-enterprises that takes shape along the lines of the sector and of the private characteristics of the self-employed owners. This complements the traditional economic and organisational studies approach regarding ICT implementation in companies, where the focus is on technological and organisational explanations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe social dynamics of information and communication technology
EditorsEugène Loos, Enid Mante-meijer, Leslie Haddon
PublisherAshgate
Pages153-170
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)978-0-7546-7082-7
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Publication series

NameThe social dynamics of information and communication technology

Bibliographical note

Eugène Loos ,Enid Mante-Meijer, Leslie Haddon

Keywords

  • Micro-enterprises
  • SME
  • ICT
  • Domestication

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