Antecedents of business-to-business e-commerce adoption and its effect on competitive advantage in manufacturing small and medium-sized enterprises: A comparative study of United States of America and Egypt
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Business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce adoption has become a necessity for most small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), allowing them to gain and sustain competitive advantage in a dynamic competitive environment. Accepting the fact that B2B is adopted at different levels based on different resources leads to the acceptance that competitive advantage is gained and sustained on a level consistent with the level of adoption. This study employs quantitative method based on the positivism philosophy and deductive approach. A questionnaire survey technique was used to collect the data from the American and Egyptian manufacturing SMEs. Moreover, it used structural equation modelling with a sample of 320 and 260 manufacturing SMEs in the United States of America and Egypt respectively.
The structural equation modelling (SEM) findings revealed that each level of B2B e-commerce adoption was affected by different factors from another level of adoption. Besides, there was a significant difference between the issues which faced manufacturing SMEs in USA and Egypt. Furthermore, in Egyptian manufacturing SMEs, relative advantage and competitive pressure have a significant effect on adoption behaviour. On the other hand, when American manufacturing SMEs made their decisions to adopt B2B e-commerce, they considered the main factors to be relative advantage, top management support, firm size and government support. In addition, the findings revealed that the higher the level of B2B e-commerce, which an SME adopted, the higher the level of competitive advantage it gained. However, in developing countries such as Egypt, SMEs remained far behind their peers in developed countries.
In terms of theoretical implications, the study could be considered to be a unique study in the field of B2B e-commerce generally and B2B e-commerce in Egyptian manufacturing SMEs in particular. This is because, by looking back at the literature review, is clear that empirical studies into B2B e-commerce issues, including manufacturing SMEs, remained embryonic in developed countries and rare in the developing countries. This is especially so in the Arabic countries. In addition, most previous studies focused on a broad and generic view of the SMEs’ adoption of B2B e-commerce or on the relationship between adoption of IT and competitive advantage. This study was conducted in a cross-country context; it considered the manufacturing SMEs’ adoption of B2B e-commerce from the perspective of the level of adoption. Therefore, it made an original empirical contribution towards the current body of knowledge on the adoption of B2B e-commerce through the identification of manufacturing SMEs adoption levels of B2B e-commerce; their impacts on competitive advantage; and the significant factors which influenced each adoption level of B2B e-commerce in USA and Egypt. In addition, this study used TOE as the theoretical framework in investigating the factors affecting B2B e-commerce in SMEs and focused largely on the factors affecting each level; this is a new contribution to the extant literature.
Turning to the study’s practical implications, important implications for the manufacturing SMEs’ owner/managers can be drawn from the findings to help them to understand their environments as, in a cross-country business context, they move through the different stages of adopting B2B e-commerce. In addition to the implication for manufacturing SMEs’ owners/managers, this study presents important implications for governmental, nongovernmental organisations and other institutions linked to manufacturing SMEs. Similar to other studies, this study has a number of limitations. The main one is that it lacks the use of qualitative analysis to depict how SMEs understand the concept of competitive advantages and how this helps them to survive and grow.
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