Measuring the Benefits of Information Systems for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Saudi Arabia

Author: Amal Alshardan

Alshardan, Amal, 2016 Measuring the Benefits of Information Systems for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Saudi Arabia, Flinders University, School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics

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The role of information systems (IS) in relation to economic growth and competitiveness in developing countries has become more vital. In particular, the impact of IS on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has been the target of much debate: these enterprises are seen as the vital engines of economic growth and innovation. Despite substantial investment by developing countries in IS and the benefits promised, very little research exists on measuring the benefits of IS for SMEs in these countries. By moving beyond the current literature’s predominant focus on IS success in developed countries and large organisations, this research will contribute towards a model for measuring IS success for SMEs in developing countries.

The study uses both qualitative and quantitative methods. Based on qualitative evidence from a content analysis of 30 case studies published on the websites of IS vendors for developing countries, and then comparing these results with academic studies undertaken in similar contexts, the analyses yielded 566 pertinent benefits of IS to SMEs. The benefits have been synthesised and mapped to the IS impact measurement model, which has provided the conceptual foundation for this research. The model comprises 44 measures across five dimensions: ‘individual impact’, ‘organisational impact’, ‘system quality’, ‘information quality’ and ‘vendor quality’. The model was validated in the Saudi Arabian context using survey methodology. Using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) and Analysis of Moment Structures (AMOS) software, data from 365 valid responses were analysed using structural equation modelling (SEM) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) techniques. The results demonstrate the validity of this model in the new context.

The study makes important theoretical contributions to the body of knowledge around IS research on SMEs and the measurement of IS success. First, this research introduces a theoretical model to measure the success of IS in SMEs in Saudi Arabia as a case study of a developing country. In addition, this study contributes to theory by extending the IS impact model (developed by Gable et al. [2008]) in several ways. Not only has the model been validated in a different setting than that of previous studies, but the study also—while confirming the other four existing dimensions—addresses the prior IS impact model’s deficiency regarding the ‘vendor (service) quality’ dimension in the context of developing country SMEs. The study thus incorporates the ‘vendor quality’ dimension into the existing dimensions of the IS impact model; this is relevant to the discourse on IS systems’ success. Moreover, the operationalised set of measures offers comprehensive items that can be used as a basis for research in other contexts to establish standardised scales.

In addition to its important theoretical contributions, the model provides critical insights to policy makers and managers on assessing the benefits of IS for SMEs in developing countries. This research contributes to the literature in the Saudi Arabian SME context, on which there is a paucity of research in general, and in particular on IS. Although this research has been conducted in the Saudi Arabian context, the findings could be applicable to similar business contexts in developing countries, particularly in other countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) (i.e., Kuwait, United Arab Emirates [UAE], Qatar, Bahrain and Oman). The study identifies vital factors pertaining to both vendors and SMEs that could form the basis of future studies in these contexts. Indeed, the study paves the way for future research on the assessment of IS’s benefits in developing country SMEs in in general and GCC countries in particular.

Keywords: IS Success, IS Impact, measurement models, benefits assessment, information systems evaluation, SMEs, developing countries, Saudi Arabia

Subject: Computer Science thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2016
School: School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics
Supervisor: Robert Goodwin