خدمات فناوری اطلاعات و ارتباطات و بهره وری کسب و کارهای کوچک ": تجزیه و تحلیل پذیرش فن آوری پهنای باند اینترنت
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|21354||2013||19 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Information Economics and Policy, Volume 25, Issue 3, September 2013, Pages 171–189
We analyse the impact of the adoption of broadband Internet technology on the productivity performance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). We distinguish access to the broadband infrastructure from the adoption of complementary services, i.e., different types of broadband software applications. The empirical analysis considers a sample of 799 firms observed from 1998 to 2004 that are representative of the population of Italian SMEs. Our econometric estimates indicate that the impact of the adoption by SMEs of basic broadband applications is negligible (or even negative). Conversely, SMEs are found to benefit from adopting selected advanced broadband applications depending on several contingent factors: (i) their industry of operations (services vs. manufacturing); (ii) the relevance of the specific broadband software applications for SMEs’ industry of operation; and (iii) the undertaking of complementary strategic and organisational changes.
The economics literature has investigated the effects of information and communications technology (ICT) adoption on firm productivity at two different levels of analysis. From a macroperspective, the evidence is not univocal. Although important contributions underline the significant positive effect of ICT on productivity (e.g., Jorgenson et al., 2008), a conspicuous number of empirical studies at the industry- and country-wide levels have highlighted a very limited or even negative impact of ICT, offering support to Solow’s famous productivity paradox (Solow, 1987. See also, among others, Van Ark et al., 2003 and Pilat et al., 2002). Conversely, studies that address firm-level data control for firm-specific characteristics such as organisational factors, complementary skills and related strategies that are not detectable at the aggregate level, but they point more convincingly to a positive and significant effect of ICT (see Section 2.1 for more details on these studies). Our paper belongs to the firm-level stream of literature and presents important points of interest and novelty. First, we analyse a fairly recent and extremely relevant type of ICT capital: broadband Internet technology. Although other studies have examined the economic impact of this technology, we note a fundamental distinction between access to the infrastructure (i.e., the adoption of a broadband Internet connection) and the adoption of related services (i.e., different broadband software applications). Second, we focus on a category of firms, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), that represents a significant portion of today’s production systems in most advanced economies.1 Despite the relevance of this category of firms, the diffusion of broadband Internet technology among SMEs has not received sufficient attention. Third, for reasons detailed throughout the text, we make a further distinction between SMEs that are active in service industries and those operating in manufacturing industries. Fourth, we analyse the causal relationship between the adoption of broadband Internet technology and SME productivity, taking into consideration the possible interplay of important firm-level contingent variables and moderating factors. In particular, our investigation focuses on changes in a firm’s organisation and strategy brought about by the adoption of broadband software applications as important enablers of productivity gains for SMEs. By focusing attention on the interplay between different types of small businesses and different types of broadband software applications, our paper investigates the specific conditions under which ICT helps SMEs increase their efficiency and performance. Grounded in the extant empirical evidence about the impact of telecommunications infrastructure on economic development (e.g., Roeller and Waverman, 2001), an increasing number of macro-analyses have recently documented the crucial role of broadband communications networks in spurring economic growth (see the econometric studies based on data on OECD countries by Koutroumpis (2009) and Czernich et al. (2011) and the analysis based on US data by Crandall et al. (2007)). In this domain, broadband Internet connection is considered a particularly powerful instrument, especially for SMEs, because it offers this type of firm an efficient and permanent connectivity to the global market at a price that many SMEs could not previously afford. Furthermore, it permits the use of complementary broadband software applications that provide high value-added services. In fact, a broadband connection is simply an “enabling” technology, allowing SMEs to adopt a series of valuable complementary applications, such as advanced communications (e.g., virtual private network, VoIP and videoconferencing) and management applications (e.g., customer relationship management, supply chain management, human resource and administration management systems) that may significantly increase firms’ efficiency and performance (OECD, 2003). This study extends our understanding of the positive influence of broadband deployment on economic systems highlighted by studies that have embraced a macro-level perspective since it produces novel insights into the productivity-enhancing role of broadband technology and the underlying conditions for its efficient use by SMEs. Despite the importance of this issue, there is a dearth of empirical quantitative studies on the impact of broadband Internet technology on the productivity performance of SMEs. Grimes et al. (2012) present the first firm-level study that focuses on productivity gains sourced from upgraded Internet access. They examine the impact of adoption of different types (i.e., speeds) of Internet connectivity on a sample of New Zealand firms (not necessarily SMEs) and find that broadband connection does increase firm productivity on the order of +7% to +10%. To the best of our knowledge, the only other econometric firm-level analysis on this topic was conducted by Bertschek et al. (2012). The authors focus on the adoption of broadband Internet connection by a sample of large and small to medium-size German firms between 2001 and 2003. Their analysis highlights a positive and statistically significant impact of broadband Internet connection on a firm’s innovation activity, but, at the same time, it points to a smaller and statistically weak impact on labour productivity. This latter result appears to be driven by a high level of variance in broadband adopters’ productivity, with few firms boosting their efficiency after adoption and a considerable number of adopters obtaining only small productivity gains. Both of the above-mentioned studies concentrate on the impact exerted by the adoption of broadband Internet connection in isolation without considering possible intervening related factors prompted by the Internet upgrade. Conversely, our starting point is that a broadband Internet connection does not, by itself, generate productivity gains for SMEs; instead, it is the use of specific broadband software applications that may make a difference depending on the specific characteristics of the adopting SMEs. In particular, we claim that the extent of the positive effect of broadband software applications is contingent on (i) the type of application (see Forman et al. (2012) for a similar approach distinguishing basic and advanced Internet use); (ii) the specific potential that the application possesses in the industry of operations of the adopting firm; and (iii) the firm’s ability to implement the complementary changes necessary to efficiently use the application. Accordingly, we develop a series of hypotheses concerning the alleged positive effect of the use of broadband software applications on SME productivity and the firm-level contingencies that moderate this relationship. These hypotheses are then tested on a longitudinal dataset of Italian SMEs. The dataset includes information from 799 Italian SMEs operating in both manufacturing and service industries (excluding public administration, finance and insurance). The sample is stratified by industry, size class and geographical area to be representative of the population of Italian SMEs. It contains detailed primary information obtained through phone interviews to SMEs’ managers on firm-specific characteristics and SMEs’ adoption of a broadband Internet connection and broadband software applications over the period from 1998 to 2004. Production function is estimated using a generalised method of moments (GMM) approach (Blundell and Bond, 1998) to control for potential endogeneity between productivity and its inputs. Overall, the results of the empirical analysis reveal that broadband Internet technology may indeed have a positive effect on the productivity of small businesses. However, this positive effect is far from being automatic and depends on both the selective adoption of advanced applications suitable to an SME’s operation environment and the undertaking of complementary strategic and organisational changes. These results confirm the importance of differentiating between various levels of analysis to improve our understanding of the conditions under which ICT affects SME performance. The paper is organised as follows. Section 2 briefly describes the literature on the effect of ICT on firm performance and derives the research hypotheses. Section 3 is dedicated to a description of the data. Section 4 is devoted to the empirical methodology; we illustrate the rationale underlying our empirical strategy, the variables used (Section 4.1), the model specification (Section 4.2), the tests we perform to test our hypotheses (Section 4.3) and the econometric methodology (Section 4.4). Section 5 highlights the results of the empirical analysis, and Section 6 concludes with summarising remarks and some managerial and policy implications.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The objective of the present study was to investigate the impact of broadband Internet technology on SMEs’ productivity. Our focus on SMEs’ access to the broadband infrastructure and the adoption of complementary applications adds a novel and interesting approach to the existing literature on the effects of ICT capital on firms’ productivity because most evidence on the topic is confined to other types of ICTs and does not explicitly refer to SMEs. The results of our econometric analysis of a large representative sample of Italian SMEs and the estimation of a series of augmented Cobb-Douglas production functions reveal several interesting findings. First, the adoption of basic broadband applications does not have any positive effect on SMEs’ productivity. Second, the mere and sole adoption of advanced broadband applications does not appear to produce a sizable productivity gain for SMEs. These results echo those obtained by most of the early literature on ICTs and firm productivity in large organisations (see Brynjolfsson and Hitt, 2000 and Cardona et al., forthcoming and the studies cited in Section 2.1): the adoption of ICT capital requires the bearing of substantial costs by firms that may (especially in the short run) reduce performance and, at best, produce gains that are far from automatic. We show in this work that the adoption of broadband technology in small businesses does not appear to be an exception to this rule. Third, the productivity impact of the adoption of broadband applications is highly variable. Sizable productivity increases emerge only if one considers different levels of analysis and several possible complementary effects. In particular, we found that important moderating factors are at work and that productivity gains are pronounced only when SMEs (a) adopt advanced broadband applications that are potentially relevant in their industry of operations, such as Advanced Communications applications in services and Supply Chain and Customer Management applications in manufacturing and (b) the adoption of these advanced applications is associated with the undertaking of extensive strategic and organisational changes to SMEs’ current way of doing business. In doing so, our study adds detailed insights to recent macro-analyses (e.g., Koutroumpis, 2009 and Czernich et al., 2011) on the firm-level conditions that magnify the beneficial role of broadband infrastructure on economic growth. Our study has some limitations that open up interesting avenues for future research. We have referred to the impossibility of controlling for a potential survivorship bias (see Section 3) and non-broadband related strategic and organisational changes (see Footnote 16) in our empirical design. One interesting addition to our analysis would be to consider the intensity of usage rather than the mere adoption of broadband applications. This latter advancement would enable us to establish more precisely, from an empirical point of view, the causal relationship between broadband applications and SME productivity and to gain insight into the conditions under which this relationship is magnified. Despite these limitations, we believe that our study has important implications for broadband application providers, SME managers, and policy makers. For suppliers of advanced broadband applications, our study emphasises that the benefits obtained by SMEs from the use of these applications are closely linked to SMEs’ ability to conduct complementary strategic and organisational changes. Whether SMEs possess the capability to design and implement these changes is questionable. Taking the perspective of vendors of broadband applications, this implies that promoting demand for advanced broadband applications cannot be disjointed from offering continual support and assistance to customer SMEs undertaking the necessary organisational or strategic changes needed to fully benefit from the use of these applications. Therefore, providing stimuli and transferring competencies to the adopting SMEs through appropriate marketing policies, customer care strategies and consulting and training activities play a key role. Conversely, commercial strategies relying solely on low application prices are unlikely to be successful. Furthermore, from the perspective of the SME managers, there is a need to carefully tailor the proper broadband applications to the industry-specific needs of small businesses and to implement complementary strategic and organisational changes. Given the low degree of internal resource slack that characterises SMEs and the consequent high opportunity cost of managers’ time, this does not appear to be an easy task. In this area, policy makers may carve out a significant role. As stated in the Europe 2020 flagship report on the Digital Agenda,24 the European Commission has underlined the importance of broadband deployment to promote social inclusion and competitiveness in the European Union: “A more innovative use of ICT throughout industrial value chains needs to be encouraged to streamline business transactions, for example by e-invoicing, and boost overall competitiveness through demonstration projects to promote the integration of enterprises, especially SMEs in global digital value chains”. The results of this research suggest that, as is typical in nascent network markets, the attention to the supply side (i.e., investment in broadband infrastructure and next-generation networks) should not be separated from a deep stimulus to the demand side. However, as far as SMEs are concerned, for the reasons described above, mere monetary subsidies favouring their access to an advanced broadband infrastructure are likely to have a negligible impact because sole connection produces little beneficial effect on their efficiency. From a policy perspective, what must be promoted is the adoption by SMEs of advanced broadband applications given their potential role in increasing the productivity of this type of firms. However, policy programmes should also take into account the complementarity between advanced broadband applications and strategic and organisational changes. We have shown that in the absence of the latter changes, the adoption of these applications does not produce any positive effect on SMEs’ productivity. Therefore, policy makers should design appropriate support schemes that help SMEs fill the competency gaps that prevent most of them from undertaking the strategic and organisational changes necessary to fully exploit the potential of advanced broadband applications. In this respect, direct policy schemes favouring (a) the purchase of supporting and consulting services in key strategic areas for manufacturing SMEs and (b) employee training activities and the recruitment of skilled personnel for service SMEs are likely to increase the productivity of SMEs that adopt advanced broadband applications and support their economic development.