Digital Transformation among SMEs: Does Gender Matter?

Khorshed Alam, Mohammad Afshar Ali, Michael O. Erdiaw-Kwasie, Peter A. Murray, Retha Wiesner

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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated some of the challenges that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) face in times of crisis, disrupting their operations, weakening their financial positions, and exposing them to a wide range of financial risks. While previous studies have viewed digital transformation as a vital source of innovation and productivity growth for economic recovery in SMEs, there has been limited focus on digital transformation in the regional context, with very little attention focused on women-led enterprises. This study aims to investigate (i) the determinants of perception of digital transformation among regional SMEs, and (ii) whether the gender of the SME owner or manager has an impact on the drivers of the digital transformation experiences of SMEs operating in regional Australia. Building upon the resource-based view, this study uses a unique dataset of 281 SMEs collected from a survey conducted within a regional area of Queensland, Australia. Employing Feasible Generalised Least Squares and Generalised Least Squares estimations, the study found that the perceptions of digital transformation can be explained by the use of social network platforms, innovation processes, workplace culture, and information and communication technologies. This study also found that there is a significant difference between female-led and male-led SMEs regarding their perceptions of digital transformation. This study offers two key policy and practical insights: (i) digital transformation of regional SMEs should be used as a fundamental tool for crisis recovery strategies, and (ii) the need for policymakers to mainstream gender into postcrisis transformative interventions and policies should be fast tracked.

Original languageEnglish
Article number535
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

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