The Role of Trust in the Success and Failure of Regional Internet Community Portals in Promoting SME E-Commerce Adoption
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Management
In the late 1990s there was a growing fear in Australia (Curtin, 2001; Small Enterprise Telecommunications Limited [Setel], 2001) and other countries of a digital divide between SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and their larger counterparts, and also between regional and suburban SMEs, in the uptake of e-commerce. Australia’s responded to this fear with a number of government-funded IT projects which were targeted at increasing access to and adoption of IT and e-commerce in the regional and SME communities. Many of these projects were developed at the local level through collaborative community-based programs. This reflected the federal government’s view that ‘the best and most workable solutions and ideas emerge from the grass roots, rather than being delivered, fully formed, from on high [as] community and non-profit groups and local-government authorities are attuned to the pulse of their communities [and] are best placed to know what their own needs and circumstances are’ (Williams, 2004). Some of these programs were led by local governments. These initiatives included setting up regional e-marketplaces (REMs) and internet trading platforms that would improve SME e-commerce uptake and lead to economic development. According to Standing et al., (2004) and Zimmerman (1998) the motivation behind such initiatives is the expectation of community benefits like raised levels of e-business knowledge, skills and technology within the community.