The concept of Development has alluded scholars and practitioners when information technology becomes prevalent. The majority of research in the Information Technology for Development (ICT4D) field is considered to be practice intended to make the world better with Information and Communications technologies (ICTs). In addition a majority of well-intentioned ICT4D projects tend to fail, often due to unrealistic expectation set by development agencies responding to their political objectives. At the same time, Information Systems (IS) research is ripe with well-studied concepts on IT adoption (i.e. TAM/UAUT: perceived usefulness, ease of use), that do not offer insights on the effects or outcomes of technology adoption. The result is a plethora of research in the variables studied as part of Information Systems adoption research that do little to assist small and micro-enterprises struggling with technology.

This research investigates ICT interventions in a set of micro-enterprises operating in low resource environments randomly selected from a public database of about 30,000 micro-enterprises in Nebraska. Based on prior research in which we used grounded theory to analyze the ways in which ICTs are used by micro-enterprises, concepts were developed further to build theory of IT adoption in sets of micro-enterprises. This project proposes to test the theory of ICT adoption micro-enterprises by developing, testing and deploying an IRB approved instrument to the sample of micro-enterprises randomly selected for this study. The results are analyzed quantitatively to 1) identify the concepts that affect the use of ICTs in micro-enterprises. Based on the quantitative analysis a set of micro enterprises are selected to receive technology and training interventions. These micro-enterprises receive interventions customized to their needs.

The results of these interventions will be assessed qualitatively using grounded theory analysis to 2) discover the ways in which ICTs are used to support business development and growth and 3) arrive at development outcomes from the ICT usage by micro-enterprises. The potential scientific contribution of this research is in advancing knowledge of the concepts that involve the development of micro-enterprises. It also offers insights into the technology and training interventions needed to enable the growth of micro-enterprises. Such contributions, as provided in this proposed project, entail the discovery of factors that can 1) enable information systems outcomes to be assessed in terms of their success in enabling micro-enterprises to grow and 2) offer strategies for improving the lives of people, in particular the micro-entrepreneur, through IS. The societal impact of this study is in offering specific new knowledge that can be used by policymakers in supporting small business development efforts through investments in ICT infrastructures.