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Abstract

E-Commerce in least developing countries (LDCs) is believed to be non-existent because few businesses, especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who are usually the vanguard of the LDCs economy, have adopted E-Commerce and even those that have, none have institutionalized the technology. Using structuration theory as a lens, this study attempts to provide an explanation as to what E-Commerce means to SMEs with the purpose of unraveling the underlying cause for the lack of E-Commerce institutionalization in LDC - Tanzania. Results indicate that SMEs use their social context to create symbolic interpretive schemes that facilitate their shared understanding of E-Commerce. This understanding was significantly influenced by social structures and resulted into new practices of doing business. They view E-Commerce as merely having a static web presence and the significant use of the mobile device. That is, E-Commerce did not necessary translate to the buying and selling of products online using their website. Websites were purely used for information purposes. They were unimpressed by the perceived benefits of institutionalizing E-Commerce because in their view, their new practices of using mobile communication and mobile payment systems mitigated against the need for institutionalization. This hybrid view of e-commerce being a mix of static website and mobile payment transactional capability is a unique perspective, which arises out of the LDC context.

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