This paper builds upon a series of studies that have identified the comparatively low uptake of ICT amongst EMBs (Ram and Smallbone, 1999; Foley and Ram 2002; Allinson et al., 2004). Existing studies have only tentatively considered the causal factors for this lower adoption rate in comparison to non-EMBs. Within the context of a pilot study, aiming to understand ICT adoption amongst EMBs, an action research approach is adopted as a means of influencing, evaluating and underpinning ICT adoption (Beckinsale and Ram, 2006). The approach is methodologically distinctive in its utilization of action research with a critical realist approach as a means of policy evaluation; this is conducive to 'policy learning', and the understanding of causal mechanisms in the EMBs. Actors involved in the implementation were interviewed, as well as the business owners themselves. Another distinguishing feature is the application of Yap et al.'s (1992) schema to identify causal mechanisms, to examine actions and experiences and to understand the impact on the EMBs studied. The findings highlight the complex interaction and relationships of internal and external factors in shaping approaches to ICT implementation. Factors such as size, strategy and business age are germane but so too, albeit to a lesser degree, are cultural influences such as involvement in co-ethnic networks. Significantly, changes to particular causal mechanisms such as business support altered adoption and implementation of ICT. Distinct issues for Chinese and Asian-owned business and potentially more broadly EMBs are identified providing a framework for other EMBs.
- business support
- ethnic minority business