Business and Public Management
In the late 19908 it was perceived that a digital divide existed in Australia between regional/rural and metropolitan areas and between small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and their larger counterparts. In response, a number of regional community portals and e-marketplaces for SMEs were funded at the federal, state and local government levels. These initiatives were driven by the hope that they would lead to increased online activity and eventually promote regional economic development. A number of these portals and regional e-marketplaces (REMs) are no longer in existence. Of those that remain, some continue to battle with inadequate funding while trying to recover from the 'build it and they will come' philosophy behind them. This paper reports on two cases of government-funded community portal regional e-marketplaces in Western Australia. They illustrate that such initiatives should be viewed as only one piece of an integrated puzzle of policies designed to narrow the digital divide. They need to be accompanied by simultaneous efforts to build the e-competencies of targeted participants and ensure the adequacy of technological infrastructure. These portals and REMs also need to be grounded on sound theoretical assumptions about the social, technological and economic issues relating to their development and management.