Factors influencing the adoption of technologies in developing countries: an empirical study.

Author:David, Dessa

    The adoption/diffusion of information technology/information systems (IT/IS) has been heralded by researchers and practitioners as a key provider of opportunities for businesses both at the strategic and organizational levels. IT has been credited for the survival and growth of several organizations worldwide. The positive benefits range from increased markets; improved products and services; reduced costs; increased avenues for communications; substantial productivity gains; innovative ways of doing business; more effective and efficient business processes; bridging the digital divide (Thong and Yap 1995; Dasgupta, Agarwal et al. 1999; Ling 2001; Mehrtens, Cragg et al. 2001; Teo and Ranganathan 2004; Zhu, Kraemer et al. 2006). However, IT adoption/implementation is not without risks and obstacles. There is growing skepticism as to the value of IT primarily because the high cost of adoption does not always translate to increase productivity and profits. This gives rise to many businesses struggling with the complexities of IT adoption decisions. Nevertheless, the ubiquitous and pervasive nature of IT continues to indicate its importance and impact on the business world. IT can be a positive game changer if deployed effectively regardless of location (Ling 2001). A challenge for businesses, policy makers, investors and researchers is to understand why some businesses intensely adopt/use technology and others do not. What are the factors that influence the intensity of technology adoption/diffusion in firms?

    Over the years, researchers have worked diligently on IT adoption issues (Straub, Keil et al. 1997; Zhu and Kraemer 2005). Despite the fact that adoption of technology is touted as major determinant of successful business process improvement globally, there is a pronounced lag of technology adoption/integration within firms in developing countries (Musa, Meso et al. 2005; Ditsa 2009). While past studies have made significant contributions, there are still questions to be answered. For example, can the research on IT adoption/diffusion be generalized worldwide especially in developing countries? The answer to the question can be of major significance to researchers and practitioners.

    A review of the existing technology diffusion literature revealed that most studies conducted were based in developed countries with large organizations. Thus, as a researcher questioning the applicability of those studies to a developing country is in order. In recent times, there have been numerous calls to conduct studies in a developing country context (Dasgupta, Agarwal et al. 1999; Musa, Meso et al. 2005; Ditsa 2009). As a result, we have seen more researchers attempting to explore this area of research. Listed below are a few insightful conclusions and recommendations extracted from their reviews.

    * Researchers' issues regarding adoption are different for developing countries. There is a need to contextualize adoption decisions between social, cultural context (Dasgupta, Agarwal et al. 1999).

    * Some research have detected obstacles specific to developing countries that can impede IT adoption (Kapurubandara 2009).

    * There is a need to examine the intensity of adoption (not just as a dichotomous variable) (Doss 2006).

    Reviewing the literature, one can extract that information systems diffusion in developing countries cannot be treated the same as developed countries. There is a visible disparity. Such differences are signals to researchers that it is necessary to take a closer look. Failure to pay attention to these IT issues in developing countries will limit our understanding of the full impact of technology diffusion worldwide. Our research aims to fulfill this void. With the rapid globalization of businesses and the evidence that IT business use in developing countries can brew success (Musa, Meso et al. 2005; Hong and Zhu 2006), there is a need to improve our understanding as to the factors that affect successful IT adoption/use. In addition, organizations, governments and NGOs, have increased attention to promote the use of technology in developing countries.

    This study attempts to understand the current trends and practices in IT use in developing countries. Specifically, we attempt to answer the following research questions: 1. What framework can be used to as a theoretical basis for studying technology adoption and use within a developing country context?

  2. What factors can be identified as affecting the adoption/diffusion of the integration of technologies within firms in developing countries?

    This research paper is organized as follows:--Literature review on IT adoption in developing countries. Next the theoretical model and hypothesis are described; research methodology, data analysis, results discussion and conclusion are presented.


    2.1 IT Adoption/Diffusion in Developing Countries

    The impact of technology on organizations has been a hot topic for researchers and practitioners alike. However, most of the studies on technology adoption have been conducted in developed countries with large organizations even though the IT profession claims that the discipline of IT is global (Kapurubandara 2009). For this to be true, there is an urgent need for IS studies within a developing country's perspective. In recent years, there are an interesting number of studies focused on developing countries (Dasgupta, Agarwal et al. 1999; Ditsa 2009). Molla et al. studied E-commerce diffusion in small island countries (Molla, Taylor et al. 2006). Musa et al (Musa, Meso et al. 2005) examined adoption of sustainable technologies for human development. Le Van Huy ecommerce in Vietnam, Teo ecommerce (2004) determinants and impact of e-government and e-business development (Srivastava and Teo 2006). Andoh-Baidoo and Osatuyi examined online banking initiatives in Nigeria (Andoh-Baidoo and Osatuyi 2009). Dasgupta et al examined determinants of IT adoption in India (Dasgupta, Agarwal et al. 1999). On the contrary, there are studies paying attention to factors inhibiting successful adoption and diffusion of IT in developing countries (Ditsa 2009; Kapurubandara 2009).

    From the literature, it is clear that the potential benefits of information systems for developing countries are important and widely acknowledged. While there are a few examples of successful IT/IS adoption in developing countries, it is evident that the majority of countries do not possess the knowledge/skills for achieving successful adoption/diffusion of technology. Reviewing past studies, researchers are struggling to determine the optimal factors to facilitate IT/IS diffusion in developing countries. To take advantage of the many benefits of technology requires the development and application of models specifically tailored for developing countries. In this study, we did just that. Many of the prior studies on IT/IS adoption in developing countries have been focused on a particular technology such as internet or ecommerce adoption and only looked at that technology through the adoption stage in a disconnected way. The literature is sparse in the area of a uniform framework that can be used as a guide for practitioners. We examined not just technology adoption but also post adoption technologies that are in use. We were interested in reviewing the factors that affect the intensity of technology adoption/diffusion. By building on previous studies, using IT adoption/diffusion literature as a theoretical basis, we examined and empirically tested the technology-organization-environment framework to further validate its applicability in the developing countries context.


    Several models have been used within past research studies to explain IT adoption/diffusion. Notable among them are theories such as Davis's Technology acceptance model (TAM), Roger's Diffusion of Innovation (DOI), Fishbein and Ajzen's Theory of Reasoned action (TRA), Ajzen's Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and Tornatzky and Fleischer's Technology-organization-environment (TOE) framework. The TOE framework has been used and empirically validated in several studies with diverse technology innovations and various contexts to explain technology adoption/diffusion decisions (Iacovou, Benbasat et al. 1995; Chau and Tam 1997; Kuan and Chau 2001; Teo and Pan 2004; Zhu and Kraemer 2005; Srivastava and Teo 2006; Zhu, Dong et al. 2006; Chang, Hwang et al. 2007; Huy 2007). Based on TOE's solid theoretical foundation and the consistent empirical support presented in earlier research studies, we find the TOE framework suitable and thus a good starting point for this study.

    Technology-organization-environment framework states that a firm's technology adoption/implementation decisions are influenced by three factors: technology, organization and environment. Technology describes the existing and new technologies relevant to the firm, Organizational factors refer to the available resources within the firm and Environmental describes the industry features where a firm is conducting business.

    TOE framework is designed...

To continue reading