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Abstract

This paper presents an abstract of the final phase of an on-going research project aiming at investigating the antecedents and consequences of research and innovating within Lebanese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The role of training personnel and introducing supporting activities in moderating the relationship between R & D and introducing knowledge management systems within Lebanese small- medium –sized innovation in Lebanon still suffer from funding shortages, short of IT personnel training and lack of the ability to adequately use existing knowledge. Ashrafi, and Murtaza suggest that “Large organizations have enough resources to adopt ICT while on the other hand SMEs have limited financial and human resources to adopt ICT” (Ashrafi and Murtaza, 2008 P. 126). Even though, Lebanese government is trying to create a digital economy, Lebanon ranked 94th out of 144 countries on the Network Readiness Index in 2012 and “In the Arab world, Lebanon ranked in 10th position, right behind Morocco (89th worldwide), but right ahead of Algeria (131st Worldwide)” (BankMed, 2014; P.19). What it is imperative, however, to note here is that “SMEs have been recognized as an important source of innovative product and process” (HanGyeol et al 2015; P.319). It is widely believed that “Research and development (R&D) intensity is crucial for increasing the innovative capacity of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)” (Nunes et al 2010; P.292). Most interestingly, “the Labour Market Survey (2001) showed a clear relationship between business failure and a lack of planning or training by SMEs” (Javawarna et al 2007; P.321). Based on existing review of literature, it is found that business expansion oblige SMEs to adopt new and original information technology solutions. Simultaneously, it is suggested that “Lack of training and skills of IT in organizations will result in a limited use of IT and lack of success in reaping benefits from computer hardware and software in organizations” (Ghobakhloo et al 2012, P.44). All that is said is true, “Information technologies (IT) have become one of the most important infrastructural elements for SMEs” (Uwizeyemungu and Raymond, 2011 P.141). As a result, it is generally believed that information technology has an imperative role to play in gaining innovation and competitiveness for SMEs. What is more, it has always been recognized that investing in technology is necessary but insufficient by itself. An imperative need exists for businesses of all sizes to protect their customers by protecting themselves from cyber attack. This is to be accomplished via changing the attitude towards cyber security and the development of cyber culture. Valli and his associates note that “There is little literature available about the ability of SMEs to deploy, use and monitor cyber security countermeasures” (Valli et al 2014;P. 71). Borum and his colleagues believe that “Industries and commercial sectors must collaborate with the government to share and disseminate information, strengthen cyber intelligence capabilities and prevent future cyber incidents” (Borm et al 2015 P.329). Uwizeyemungu and Raymond suggest that “IT adoption and assimilation in these firms should be the product of an alignment between the strategic orientation and competencies that characterize their organizational context on one hand, and specific elements in their technological and environmental contexts on the other hand” (Uwizeyemungu and Raymond 2011, P.153). A study by Ghobakhloo and his colleague “suggested that through the passing of cyber laws by governments to regulate and secure online transaction activities, and also by providing appropriate anti-virus and/or firewall/security protocols for SMEs by vendors and service providers to reduce or prevent the attacks of hackers, viruses and spyware, the perceived risk of IT adoption by these businesses, should be alleviated” (Ghobakhloo et al 2012, P.57). To lead the way to successful innovation within SMEs, this study will be a significant effort in promoting the key sustainability issues affecting innovation within SMEs. The best way to start is by understanding innovation within the Lebanese SMEs. A study such as the one conducted here is recommended by experts in this area. Armbruster and his associates noted that “There is still plenty of research to do before organizational innovation surveys achieve the degree of homogeneity and standardization that advanced R&D and technical innovation surveys possess” (Armbruster et al 2008, P.656). The purpose of this investigation is to determine the relative importance of introducing supporting activities, training personnel and R & D on the variation in introducing knowledge management systems within Lebanese SMEs. To this end, The aim of this project is to investigate the adoption of existing technologies to new applications in a concrete SME business case in addition to what motivate innovation within Lebanese SMEs and the challenges and barriers facing SMEs in adopting innovation. The population of the study consists of all SMEs in Lebanon. Most of SMEs are family businesses and as to be expected “Family involvement in a firm has an impact on many aspects of organizational behaviour” (Cromile and O'Sullivan, 1999, p. 77). Morris and his colleagues argue that “family firms violate a tent of contemporary models of organizations, namely, the separation of ownership from management” (Morris et al, 1996, p. 68) This leads to a lot of complications including the succession problems, role conflict and role ambiguity that may represent major barriers to adopting IT and innovation within SMEs. The sample for this study is relatively large sample and the instrument for collecting the primary data was a well constructed questionnaire. Cronbach's alpha and factor analysis were used to establish the reliability and construct validity of the instrument. Findings of the study show that introducing new or significantly improved supporting activities, training personnel, having an employee who is fully in charge of the website and having an R&D department are the significant factors affecting introducing new or significantly improved knowledge management systems to better use or exchange information, knowledge and skills within Lebanese SMEs. Findings of this study are in line with previous findings. Schienstock and associates believe that firms have to develop their competence to learn and innovate by introducing new knowledge management practices and organizational restructuring. In fact, they criticized the traditional approach in the classical studies of “the so-called linear model, traditional innovation policy focuses primarily on the creation of new scientific and technical knowledge, supposing some kind of automatic transformation of this new knowledge into new products” (Schienstock et al 2009, PP.49–50). What is more, Molero and García believe that “the theory about factors affecting firms' innovation has still a long way to go because the analytical object is complex and difficult to set limits for” (Molero and García 2008, P.20). This project has implications for policy making, decision making and recommendations for further research.

Armbruster, H. Bikfalvi, A. Kinkel, S. and Lay, G (2008) “Organizational innovation: The challenge of measuring non-technical innovation in large-scale surveys”, Technovation 28, 644–657. The full text is available at: www.sciencedirect.com

Ashrafi, R. and Murtaza, M. (2008), “Use and Impact of ICT on SMEs in Oman.” The Electronic Journal Information Systems Evaluation Volume 11 Issue 3, pp. 125–138. The full text is available at: www.ejise.com

BankMed (April 2014) “ANALYSIS OF LEBANON'S ICT SECTOR”, P.19. The full text is available at: http://www.bankmed.com.lb/LinkClick aspx?fileticket = xGkIHVHVrM4%3D&portalid = 0

Borum, R.; Felker, J.; Kern, S.; Dennesen, K; Feyes, T. (2015), “Strategic cyber intelligence”, Information & Computer Security, Vol. 23 Iss: 3, pp.317–332. The full text is available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com.ezproxy.aub.edu.lb/doi/10.1108/ICS-09-2014–0064

Cromile, S. and O'Sullivan, S. (1999), “Women as managers in family firms”, Women in Management Review, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp.76–88. The full text is available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/09649429910269884

Ghobakhloo, M.; Hong, T.S.; Sabouri, M.S.; Zulkifli, N. (2012), “Strategies for successful information technology adoption in small and medium-sized enterprises”. Information 3, 36–67. The full text is available at: file:///C:/Users/PC/Desktop/information-03-00036%20(2).pdf

Hangyol, S. Yanghon, C. Dongphil, C and Chungwon, W. (2015), “Value capture mechanism: R&D productivity comparison of SMEs”, Management Decision, Vol. 53 Iss: 2, pp.318–337. The full text is available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com.ezproxy.aub.edu.lb/doi/abs/10.1108/MD-02-2014–0089

Javawarna, D., Macpherson, A. and Wilson, A. (2007), “Training commitment and performance in manufacturing SMEs: Incidence, intensity and approaches”, Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 14 Iss: 2, pp.321–338. The full text is available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com.ezproxy.aub.edu.lb/doi/abs/10.1108/14626000710746736

Molero, J. and García, A. (2008), “Factors affecting innovation revisited”, WP05/08, PP:1–30. The full text is available at: https://www.ucm.es/data/cont/docs/430-2013-10-27-2008%20WP05-08.pdf

Morris, M. H. Williams, R. W. Nel, D. (1996), “Factors influencing family business succession”, International Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research. Vol. 2 No. 3, pp.60–81. The full text is available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/13552559610153261

Nunes, P.M. Serrasqueiro, Z. Mendes, L. Sequeira, T.N (2010), “Relationship between growth and R&D intensity in low-tech and high-tech Portuguese service SMEs”, Journal of Service Management, Vol. 21 Iss: 3, pp.291–320. The full text is available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com.ezproxy.aub.edu.lb/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/09564231011050779

Schienstock, G. Rantanen, E. and TyniIAREG, P. (April 2009) “Organizational innovations and new management practices: Their diffusion and influence on firms' performance. Results from a Finnish firm survey”. IAREG Working Paper 1.2.d. PP. 1–64. The full text is available at: http://www.iareg.org/fileadmin/iareg/media/papers/WP_IAREG_1.2d.pdf

Uwizeyemungu, S. and Raymond, L. (2011), “Information Technology Adoption and Assimilation: Towards a Research Framework for Service Sector SMEs,” Journal of Service Science and Management, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 141-157, doi: 10.4236/jssm.2011.42018. The full text is available at: http://www.scirp.org/Journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID5229 World Economic Forum (2015), Global Information Technology Report 2015. The full text is available at: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Global_IT_Report_2015.pdf

Valli, C. Martinus, I. and Johnstone, M. (Aug 2, 2014), “Small to Medium Enterprise Cyber Security Awareness: an initial survey of Western Australian Business”, The 2014 International Conference on Security and Management, At Las Vegas, Nevada, PP:71-75. The full text is available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264417744_Small_to_Medium_Enterprise_Cyber_Security_Awareness_an_initial_survey_of_Western_Australian_Business

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2016-03-21
2019-11-17
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