Business Evaluation Methods and Models – a review

Webb, Brian and Schlemmer, Frank (2004). Business Evaluation Methods and Models – a review. In: Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Online Forschung (GOR ’04), 30-31 Mar 2004, Hamburg.



As E-Business matures, researchers (and practitioners) are moving beyond studies of adoption and diffusion to studies of impact. A number of papers have been published that analyse e-business benefits but the results are inconsistent. In addition, the research is often at the macro (economic) level, focused upon large organisations, and the approach taken is predominantly quantitative. In contrast, our research is at micro (organisational) level, focused on SMEs, and uses predominantly qualitative (or intensive) research methods. Our twin objectives are to (a) identify key EBusiness success factors for SMEs and (b) validate the findings in a method that is also transparent, reliable and generalisable. This paper reports on the results of the literature analysis and outlines our research design. Firstly we examine the outcomes of current research into E Business success factors in some detail, drawing upon general theories and models of IS success to evaluate, categorize and rank the findings. Then we examine the applicability of these findings to SMEs, drawing upon the literature (for example) on the impact of firm size on performance, on the relationship between adoption, diffusion and impacts measures, and on the – widely reported but infrequently tested – role of the Internet in „levelling the playing field“ between large and small firms. At the same time we examine the research approaches used to generate such outcomes. A key objective of our research is to establish a sound (robust) methodological approach to the investigation of SME E-Business success factors; a method that is grounded in the analysis of empirical data at the micro organisational level and which can be readily understood and used by other researchers. Finally a rationale for the selection (or development) of our chosen approach is given, along with details of the research design. We also anticipate that our analysis at this stage will be supported by some field data gathered during pilot studies of SMEs in Germany and the UK.

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