Assessing the contribution of ICT to the triple bottom line

Gill, Victoria and Kitching, John (2013) Assessing the contribution of ICT to the triple bottom line. In: 36th Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) Annual Conference: Escape Velocity: Entrepreneurship in an Internationalising Environment; 12-13 Nov 2013, Cardiff, U.K.. ISBN 9781900862264


Objectives: Little is currently understood about how social enterprises adopt and use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to achieve their social missions. This paper will investigate how technology adoption is theorised at the intersection of the ICT for development (ICT4D), social enterprise and technology adoption literatures. Doing so responds to a gap in the social enterprise literature calling for better understanding of how social enterprises use technology. Prior Work: There exists a significant body of literature on the adoption of ICTs in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and within larger commercial businesses as an enabler of competitive (economic) advantage. There is also a growing body of literature addressing the determinants and benefits of ICT adoption as an enabler of international development programmes. We seek to understand to what extent current theoretical models for technology adoption ‘fit’ social enterprises – organizations that have both social and economic goals, often articulated as a ‘triple bottom line’. This paper lays the groundwork for an empirical study to be situated in a developed country (UK) context. Approach: We undertake a critical review of technology adoption studies considering theoretical implications for social enterprise. We ask whether current frameworks theorise technology adoption predominately through technocentric models that are unable to resolve the inherent conflict between the adoption of ICT tools to provide needed products and services to deprived communities; and the need to adopt or adapt the most appropriate and helpful technologies. We propose a new model for exploring ICT adoption in social enterprises. Results: Traditional theories of technology adoption and diffusion offer limited explanation for understanding the use of ICTs by social enterprises. Offering descriptive rather than explanatory analyses, these theories do not provide deep insights into complex adoption processes that are interwoven with triple bottom line objectives. Empirical research is needed to investigate the relationship between technology adoption and realization of benefits for social enterprises. Implications: The perceptions, uses and benefits of ICTs for social enterprises, and the types of ICTs adopted, are shaped by both business and social goals. This paper offers a critique of technology adoption studies located at the intersection of the social enterprise, technology adoption and ICT4D literature, and suggests that new technology adoption models are needed to understand the technology adoption processes in organizations that have a blended business and social mission. Value: Exploring the technology adoption processes of social enterprises may facilitate theoretical advancement, with implications for researchers, policy-makers, practitioners and business support providers.

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page