This chapter makes some references to the existing literature on the concepts of eReadiness and eCommerce to provide a platform, on which to execute the research. The existing research findings and frameworks discussed in this section are intended to provide the required theoretical background and guidance for the research outlined.
The focus of this research is directly connected to two broad themes namely eCommerce and eReadiness. From an extensive study of literature, it was apparent that literature identifies e-commerce adoption as a subsequence of e-readiness. Unless an individual or an entity is ready to use electronic means for commerce, they are unlikely to adopt e-commerce. This is how the terms eCommerce and eReadiness have become prime research terms.
Research studies done previously on eReadiness edify that the state of eReadiness primarily constitutes of e-readiness of businesses, e-readiness of consumers, and an enabling environment. However, these studies have placed a significant emphasis on eReadiness of businesses and the enabling environment but have placed less emphasis on the eReadiness of consumers.
Some concerns on consumer eReadiness have been incorporated into some of the existing eReadiness frameworks, and some related works by researchers also are found in the existing literature. However, there has been no deserving recognition provided for consumer eReadiness as one of the key constituents for eCommerce adoption.
1.2.1. Definitions: eReadiness
The term eReadiness is defined differently to suit particular contexts of use. Following are some of the definitions used in the existing literature and by academics and professionals:
Table 1:eReadiness Definition Table
However, where individuals are concerned, the definition used in common media is considered to be the most appropriate definition. Therefore this research study will be based upon this definition.
Literature identifies a huge range of influencing factors in consumer/individual readiness. The factors can be fundamentally categorised into intrinsic factors and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors are those that have a personal influence on the individuals’ behaviour/ decision making. Whereas extrinsic factors are those that exist in the environment, and which directly or indirectly influence intrinsic factors, and therefore, ultimately influences the behaviour / decision making of individuals (Garderner and Lambert, 1972; Martin, 1990; Thomas, 2004).
A correlation can be developed between the factors based on their influence of one over another. Based on the literature analysis it was found that the extrinsic factors have an influence on the intrinsic factors and then intrinsic factors influence the readiness of an individual. The vice versa is true as well. On the other hand intrinsic and extrinsic factors directly influence the readiness of an individual as well. Thereby, there are three ways that an individual’s readiness can be influenced.
There are numerous theories of social psychology that provide a direction for the study of individuals’ characteristics and how they behave. Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) by Ajzen and Fishbein (1973), and Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) by Ajzen (1991) are mainly considered as the most relevant theories to study the influence of intrinsic factors on e-readiness of individuals.
Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) primarily relates attitude towards behaviour, subjective norms and behavioural intention as chain of components that leads to behaviour. According to this theory, attitude towards behaviour and subjective norms constitute behavioural intention and that in turn leads to particular behaviour (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). However, there have been some limitations identified such as the theory assumed that once someone establish the intention to behave, they have no limitations to behave as they intended. This has been perceived as an invalid assumption in the practical context since the intention can be affected by several factors in practice like personal ability and affordable time, that are limited, and several limitations to environmental factors that influence behaviour of an individual. As a result of these limitations, Ajzen has extended his research and resolved by introducing the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) (Ajzan, 1991). TPB has eliminated the risk of misassumption by incorporating behavioural control as an additional component that constitutes the behavioural intention.
TPB implies that behavioural perceptions and actual behaviours are influenced by salient beliefs (Ajzen, 1988; 1991). TPB describes three types of perceptual constructs, each affected by a different type of belief: attitudes are affected by behavioural beliefs, subjective norm is affected by normative beliefs, and perceived behavioural control is impacted by control beliefs (Paul and Lin, 2002).
The attitude is defined as “certain regularities of an individual’s feelings, thoughts and predispositions to act toward some aspect of his environment” (Secord and Backman, 1969). Arnold et al. (2010) describe attitude as a three componential construct where feelings, thoughts and predispositions represents affective, cognitive and behavioural components of attitude respectively. In other words, the affective component is about how an individual feels about something, the cognitive component is about an individual’s perception about something, and the behavioural component is how an individual behaves towards something. Authors further state that attitude is evaluative and therefore an individual can feel, think and behave either positively or negatively towards an object of attitude. This idea has been asserted in the research outcomes of evaluative dimensions of attitudes by Ajzen (2001), who lists evaluative dimensions that includes “good-bad, harmful-beneficial, pleasant-unpleasant, and likable-dislikable”.
Adoption of above theories to information systems has enabled theorists and researchers in the field of Information Systems to understand the psychological impact of individuals in information systems adoption. The following models and theories are evident to adoption of social psychology in information systems studies: TAM (Technology Acceptance Model) by Davis (1989) and Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) by Venkatesh et al.(2003).
TAM suggests two main determinants that influence how users accept new technologies for adoption. One of the determinants is Perceived Usefulness, which reflects on "the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would enhance his or her job performance". Another determinant is Perceived Ease-of-Use, this reflects on "the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would be free from effort" (Davis, 1989). Davis suggested these main determinants are influenced by external variables and that these determinants influence the behavioural intention of an individual and then in turn leads to actual usage. Similar to TRA, TAM also assumes individuals are free to act as they intended without limitation, where on the other hand, several other research outcomes found that there are numerous constraints which persist to limit an individual’s actions in practice such as limited ability, time, environmental limitations, and unconscious habits. Consequently, in order to eliminate these misassumptions there have been several developments carried out on this model, which progressed through TAM 2, TAM 3 and finally UTAUT.
UTAUT was developed by Venkatesh et al. (2003) taking eight vibrant pre-existing models from social psychology and Information Systems. This theory proposed four key constructs namely performance expectancy, effort expectancy, and social influence which determine the usage intention. That, together with facilitating condition, in turn leads to use behaviour of an individual. The authors also identified mediating factors such as gender, age, experience and voluntariness which have an impact on the primary four constructs that lead to use behaviour.
On the other hand Diffusion of Innovation theory suggests that individuals have different degrees of willingness to adopt innovation which is transferred through particular pattern of channels within social systems. The author has segregated individual willingness into five categories that include innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. These categories are determined using several individual characteristics such as personality, education, accessibility to information, type of information sources they use, socio-economic status etc. (Rogers, 1995).
Another important influencing factor identified in the literature is motivation. There are several motivational theories in social psychology which are used to approach motivation in different viewpoints. However, the most relevant theory to this context is the Expectancy Theory by Vroom (1964). He proposed motivation to be a three componential construct that includes expectancy, instrumentality, and valence. The ‘expectancy’ is about a person’s belief in his ability to perform an action he was considering, the ‘instrumentality’ is concern about the identifiable outcome of performing that action, and finally the ‘valence’ is about how he values the outcome. The author suggested that motivation is a multiplication of these three components and any one of these components becoming zero means that motivation is zero. Applicability of this theory in e-commerce adoption is highly impressive since an individual looking to adopt e-commerce would definitely analyse the outcome of adopting it, and based on how he values the outcome, his motivation to adopt e-commerce is determined.
The theories discussed above provided a sound insight into the intrinsic factors that influence individuals towards their behaviour. The idea on how individual characteristics and the influence of intrinsic elements on the behaviour of an individual are well referenced in the existing literature. The different perspectives provided by these authentic theories can be summarised as follows to set them out as candidate factors that influence the e-readiness of an individual in this research context.
1. Attitude: This can be approached in three perspectives
a. How the individual feels about (Affective component)
b. What the individual thinks about / in other words, perception (Cognitive component)
c. How the individual behaves towards (Behavioural component).
2. Subjective Norms: Influence of friends, family, and social elements in the thought process.
3. Behavioural Control: Influence of friends, family, and social elements in the behaviour.
4. Beliefs: This also constitutes of three types of beliefs
a. Behavioural belief
b. Normative belief
c. Control belief.
5. Motivation –
a. Intrinsic Motivation : Something that motivates within (inside) the individual
b. Extrinsic Motivation : Something that motivates an individual from outside
Perceived Usefulness & Perceived Ease of Use is also some of the other factors that have attracted the attention in the theories. However, these factors are results of either attitude or subjective norms. Therefore these factors will be accounted for within either attitudes or subjective norms rather than enlisting separately.
In addition to that, there have been some affirmations to some of the factors in the existing literature. The research studies confirm beliefs (Rogers, 2003), lifestyle (needs), socio cultural customs (Slyke et al., 2004; Venkatesh and Brown, 2001), education, convenience and experience orientation, channel knowledge, and perceived distribution utility and accessibility (Li et al., 1999) as influential intrinsic factors.
Reflecting on the theoretical evidences discussed above, attitude has been identified and tested as an influential factor in adoption of web for retailing and commerce in an investigation by Fenech and O’Cass (2001).
On the other hand, economists assume that consumers’ individual behaviours are rational. Their concerns are highly attributed by choices that best suit their needs, budgets and earning power, and interest in maximizing value for money (Josiam & Hobson, 1995). This confirms that the influence of economic conditions on the intrinsic factors is also well tested.
The Extrinsic factors are widely researched and utilised to assess the e-readiness of countries and also of the individuals to some extent. There is an argument in the academic circle that existing models are more focused on the extrinsic factors that constitute the environment of an individual and have an indirect impact on the e-readiness of an individual. Therefore considering the existing models and how they approach the elements of environment to correlate with e-readiness of countries and so of individuals is very significant for this context of research.
In such a sense, the following guides that have been coined by prominent professional, social and academic bodies to measure e-readiness of a country and individuals are studied in this section. Some of these models have considered individuals’ e-readiness as part of the e-readiness of the country being assessed. The areas of focus considered in four of the most common guides/ models that have been most widely used can be summarised as follows:
Table 2: Existing eReadiness Frameworks
As portrayed before, consumer e-Readiness is considered as a two dimensional concept which consists of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. The extrinsic factors are considered to be all the factors that constitute the environment of an individual. On the other hand, the theoretical evidences also convey that some of the extrinsic factors have a significant impact or rather encourage intrinsic factors to influence an individual’s behaviour. Based on research evidences in the literature, it is clear that extrinsic factors exclusively constitute the eReadiness of businesses and e-enabling environment.
A brief discussion on the extrinsic factors that are identified in various guides and other inhibitors found in existing literature is provided here in this section.
Infrastructure: This is considered to be a significant pillar of the e-enabling environment for the eReadiness of an individual. The generic term of Infrastructure can be approached in two different subsets, namely, Physical Infrastructure and Soft Infrastructure.
22.214.171.124. Physical Infrastructure:
This type of Infrastructure, in this context, simply refers to minimum required network and communication facilities and services to enable a community to get connected to the networked world (CID, 2000). Network availability and affordability are basically identified as significant determinants by all of the e-readiness models above. ASEAN guide details it with four elements which include Communication Infrastructure, Internet Access Services, End User Devices, Affordability (ITU, 2001). CID guide extends this to Hardware and Software required to access networks, quality and speed of the networks, customer service and support from access providers to adopt network applications to use (CID, 2000). APEC guide expands to Availability of basic infrastructure, speed and functionality of the infrastructure, affordable pricing of infrastructure, reliability of infrastructure, availability of terminal equipment, and Infrastructure market condition (APEC, 2000; 2001). The Economist e-Readiness guide emphasises on broadband penetration, broadband quality, broadband affordability, mobile-phone penetration, mobile quality, Internet user penetration, international Internet bandwidth, and Internet security (The Economist, 2010).
126.96.36.199. Soft Infrastructure:
This type of Infrastructure, in this context, simply refers to required ancillary facilities and provisions that enable a platform to control human behaviours, and usage of Physical Infrastructures to enjoy the e-environment appropriately. This primarily constitutes of Networked Learning, Government Commitment, and Socio-Cultural environment.
188.8.131.52.1. ICT Education:
This is another pillar of the e-enabling environment for the eReadiness of an individual. Though required infrastructure is available, absence of required knowledge and skills or education to use the technology in day-to-day life hinders the readiness of a community to participate in the networked world. On the other hand, this produces technologically unskilled human resources that in turn hinder the overall productivity of the community. Therefore, creating ICT knowledgeable and skilled human resources is the foremost action that would be required in enabling an environment for eReadiness. In order to do that, the state of learning facilities becomes an influential factor in determining e-readiness as well. CID guide has proposed accessibility to ICT by schools, the level of adoption of ICT by schools in the regular curriculum, and opportunity based human resources development on ICT, as relevant areas to account for the e-readiness of a community (CID, 2000). APEC, on the other hand, proposes to broaden the developments at every stage from schools to higher education, on the job training and adult education to train them to cultivate their skills using ICT. This guide particularly focuses on the level of internet accessibility of schools, the economy’s role in increasing the internet accessibility, integrating ICT into education through policies, and providing accessibility to latest technologies, and partnership between educational institutions and businesses to develop relevant curricula which is up to date (APEC, 2000; 2001). Whereas The Economist guide emphasises education under Social and Cultural environment. Under this category it weighs educational level, internet literacy, degree of entrepreneurship, technical skills of workforce, and degree of innovation (The Economist, 2010). ASEAN guide also has embedded education into the e-society category (ITU, 2001).
Socio Cultural Environment can be considered as a generic frame that can capture the above mentioned developments of the communities. Incorporation of significant aspects referred to above primarily constitutes a socio-cultural environment and have significant impacts on individuals’ attitude and their ability to make decisions to adopt technology as they are a part of this construct.
Economy is one of the key players in the overall growth of a country which determines the living standards of individuals. This in turn also promotes and provides the affordability to individuals to adopt innovations introduced by ever-growing technologies. Different models have digested the significant role of economy in eReadiness into differently named criteria. The Economist has captured some of the important aspects under business environment by taking the following aspects in to measures: Overall political environment, macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards private enterprise, foreign investment policy, foreign trade and exchange regimes, tax regime, financing and the labour market (The Economist, 2010). CID (2000) has defined it as the networked economy which covers measures of several categorical elements that involve employment opportunities in ICT sector, use of electronic commerce in B2C, B2B and government institutions (CID, 2000). However this model does not seem to cover wider aspects of the economy on its own. It was observed that this model has incorporated the aspects of economy across the other criteria defined by the model. Most of the other models also generally cover the above discussed criteria.
Legal framework is a very significant aspect identified in all of the models and most of the independent research studies found in the existing literature (CID, 2000; The Economist, 2010; APEC, 2000; 2001; ITU, 2001; Molla, 2002; Molla and Licker, 2002). Some of the commonly considered criteria are the effectiveness of traditional legal framework, laws covering the Internet, level of censorship, ease of registering a new business, and electronic ID policies (The Economist, 2010). Another factor commonly recognised in models is Government effort to regulate and maximize the ability to protect and provide a secure environment for ICT based activities (APEC, 2001; CID, 2000; ITU, 2001).
Government commitment refers to wider areas that involve the use of technology for administrative and operational purposes of government services (CID, 2000), promotion of technology into the day-to-day lifestyles of its citizens (APEC, 2000; 2001) and formulating and implementing necessary strategies and policies to leverage ICT growth across the country. One of the very influential bodies that motivate people to adopt technology is the government. Government’s commitment and adoption ultimately influences people to adopt technology. There have been several areas focused in the above models. Penetration level (ITU, 2001) is one of the most considered factors, which has also been considered under the infrastructure. This is purely a result of the government’s commitment to develop and expand the services and infrastructure. Government’s commitment to develop and enhance the soft infrastructure such as Taxation, legal framework (ITU, 2001; The Economist, 2010), government policies such as network policy (CID, 2000), Information security policy, policies to liberalise trade in ICT (ITU, 2001; CID, 2000), and as previously stated elsewhere, the educational policies and strategies to integrate ICT into general curricula (APEC, 2000; 2001) also widely impact the enabling environment, and ultimately the e-commerce adoption.
Another significant point is promoting ICT across the country. The Government as an influential body who can reach the grass roots of the communities to promote ICT. This is referred to in the existing literature as either promoting ICT or Awareness (Li et al., 1999), which is, in fact referred to as one of the influential factors that can determine technology adoption. The impact of awareness in decision making of individuals can be justified with the application of the expectancy theory proposed by Vroom (1964), which is discussed in the theoretical foundation above. According to this theory, when people are encouraged, they are capable of adopting ICT (expectancy), then they are edified on the benefits they will gain from adopting ICT (Instrumentality), and finally make sure the promised benefits are realised by the people (Valance). This process highly involves the government’s commitment and interest to promote ICT across the country.
In addition to the factors discussed in various guides above, numerous inhibitors to consumer e-commerce adoption are found in the existing literature elsewhere in the research studies published by various authors in the field. An account of numerous concerns and inhibitors identified in e-commerce adoption is provided here:
A research study by Kangis and Rankin (1996) identified a lack of quality evaluation, or, in other words a lack of pre-purchase assessment, as one of the influential concerns of the users to adopt e-commerce. However, on the other hand, Sohn (1999) argued that not every product requires a physical pre-purchase assessment. He added that items such as CDs, Books, Canned Foods, etc are some of the examples for his argument. Some of the other concerns identified in the literature are a lack of instant delivery and realization of purchases (Vassos, 1996), lack of personalised Services (Kangis and Rankin, 1996), and lack of enjoyment and satisfaction in shopping (Phau and Poon, 2000). All of these concerns are seem to be revolving around “Satisfaction”. We can approach this scenario with the Expectation Confirmation Theory (ECT), which is also sometimes referred to as Expectation Disconfirmation Theory (EDT) of Oliver. This theory posits that expectation together with perceived performance leads to post-purchase satisfaction. In real terms, the result is mediated by either positive or negative disconfirmation. If the product outperforms the expectation, it leads to positive disconfirmation, in other words “Post-Purchase-Satisfaction”. Whereas if it deprives the expectation then that leads to negative disconfirmation, in other words “Post-Purchase-Dissatisfaction” (Oliver, 1977; 1980). On the other hand, satisfaction has been identified as the key factor that affects the consumer’s online repurchasing (Bhattacherjee, 2001) and continuance (decision to continue using it) in the Model of Intention, Adoption and Continuance (MIAC) by Cheung et al. (2003). In the context of e-commerce adoption, the relationship between the concerns which were revolving around the term satisfaction and the theories discussed is very significant as the adoption is highly influenced by the satisfaction resulting from the first experience of online purchases.
Some of the other concerns identified in the literature include: the difficulty of finding what you are looking for in a large pool of items, which results in large amounts of time consumed in the selection of required items and the difficulty of making purchase decisions online when compared with physical purchases ( Rose et al., 1999; Anckar and Walden, 2002). This on the other hand, Anckar (2003) argues in one of his investigations that limited experience in using computer and internet and poor connection speed also causes problems in searching and locating required products and services. He also has indicated in his research findings that initial costs related to entry such as costs related to PC/ laptop, connectivity charges, and costs in terms of time, and financial risks also hinder the adoption of e-commerce by consumers.
Another widely recognised factor is cyber security and risks related to online transactions which ultimately reflect on consumer perception (Rose et al., 1999) such as lack of trust in virtual sellers (hoffman et al., 1999).
Literature also identifies the influence of demographic factors on e-commerce adoption such as age, gender, disabilities, experience, voluntariness to use, educational level, mobility, employment status, and income (Rasouli et al., 2011; Slyke et al., 2005; Zukowski and Brown, 2007; Akman and Rehan, 2010) which have been tested in different contexts to study the impact of these factors on adoption of e-commerce by consumers.
Most of the inhibitors discussed above are examined and reinstated in a survey conducted by Anckar (2003) in view of investigating the rationality behind consumer behaviour in an electronic marketplace. The survey reveals that over 75 per cent of respondents indicated that quality evaluation and security risks as their primary concerns. Over 50 per cent indicated lack of trust in virtual sellers, delivery time, and lack of personal services as their next level of concerns. Lack of enjoyment in shopping, cost of use, difficulty of finding what you are looking for, cost of entry, low bandwidth connections, limited Internet / Computer experiences, and time consuming nature are identified as some of the other concerns which though their degree of influence is less, to some extent they do have an influential concern for e-commerce adoption.
Another important model that is useful to understand the e-commerce adoption is Model of Intention, Adoption and Continuance (MIAC) by Cheung et al. (2003). The research framework used here has a well-defined set of factors which influence the three stages of online consumer behaviour. The stages are described as “Online Purchase Intention”, “Online Purchase” in other words described as “Adoption”, and finally “Online Repurchase” which in other words is described as “Continuance”. Based on an extensive literature study they have defined their research framework to include consumer characteristics, product/ service characteristics, medium characteristics, merchant and intermediary characteristics, and environmental influences, which are the five categories of elements that can influence all of the above three stages of online consumer purchasing.
Based on the models and related literature studies it was apparent that numerous factors extrinsically influence eReadiness for eCommerce adoption. A summary of the account would be as follows:
Basically the extrinsic factors constitute of required infrastructure that include both eReadiness of Businesses and environment. The infrastructure indicates that both the physical and soft infrastructure is required.
In addition to that there has been an account of several other concerns including satisfaction, experience, quality issues, realization, security, cost, characteristics of products/ services, medium, intermediaries, and environment, and demographic elements such as gender, age, disabilities, experience, voluntariness to use, educational level, mobility, employment status, and income.
Several literature and authentic sources reporting on the developments of Sri Lanka have been studied for this research. The author of this research hopes that this contextual literature and the information on socio-cultural-economic and political developments of Sri Lanka will facilitate the provision of a platform to understand the performance level and the state of nation-wide eReadiness of Sri Lanka, and in turn help to predict the individuals’ readiness.
At the outset, according to authentic sources, the Government of Sri Lanka has well envisaged Sri Lanka’s strategic position through the declared vision of creating an eSri Lanka, and has developed several dedicated missions to achieve the strategic vision. The eSri Lanka concept has been the central focus of many developments happening in Sri Lanka. Every sector correlates their sectorial missions with this eSri Lanka vision. This initiative has been the driving element of gross development in Sri Lanka.
During the last decade, the government of Sri Lanka has made several commitments to improve the ICT across the country. One of the prominent actions taken can be the establishment of the National Committee on Information and Communication Technology of Sri Lanka by a Parliament Act called Information and Communication Technology Act, No. 27 of 2003. The same act made a provision to establish an Agency called The Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTASL) commonly referred to as ICTA, to assist the national committee and cabinet of Ministers in formulating national policies, and planning, coordinating, and implementing action plans on ICT (GDSRSL, 2003). Through this agency the government is actively promoting ICT across the country and has introduced the required legal frameworks and amendments from time to time. Examples of this can be the Electronic Transactions Act, No. 19 of 2006 to govern all the electronic communications, documents, and transactions (GDSRSL, 2006), and the Computer Crime Act, No.24 of 2007 to protect any crimes and to guide investigations of crimes committed using computers (GDSRSL, 2007).
ICTA has been dedicated in developing Information infrastructure across the country through declared objectives such as ensuring the availability of a delivery channel for information and ICT services (Connectivity), availability of connected access devices (Accessibility), and availability of timely, relevant and localised applications, information and services (Content) (ICTA, 2011a). These objectives are being realised through several projects that are in place such as:
Nenasala Project: Nenasala centre refers to Knowledge Centre. There are more than 1000 Nenasala centres have been established across the country to enable rural communities to access ICT based services including free internet. This project has enabled communities to learn and experience ICT, which has resulted in significant growth in IT literacy across the regions of Sri Lanka (ICTA, 2011a).
SchoolNet Project: Ministry of Education together with the telecommunication providers have interconnected 1000 Schools, 100 Computer Resource Centers, 17 National Colleges of Education, Ministry of Education, National Institute of Education, 8 Provincial ICT Centers, Project Management Offices of the Secondary Education Modernization Project, Zonal Education Offices, and Provincial Education Offices. This enables students, teachers, principals, centre managers, and Parents to access information resources across this network. This project has made ICT based learning and teaching services available for the younger generations in Sri Lanka (SchoolNet, 2011).
LEARN: The Lanka Education And Research Network is also referred to as the National Research and Education Network of Sri Lanka. This network interconnects “all of the UGC funded state universities, a number of public universities under other ministries and private universities, the University Grants Commission, the Ministry of Higher Education, and a number of national research institutions including the National Science Foundation (NSF)” across Sri Lanka. This provides access to students, academics and researchers to ICT based services (LEARN, 2011).
Lanka Government Network (LGN): This network interconnects “all Government Ministries, Departments, Foreign Missions, Provincial Councils, District Secretariats and Divisional Secretariats in the country”. This reflects on the interest of the government in using ICT to provide better services across the island (ICTA, 2011a).
In addition to that there are numerous projects that are currently running to develop ICT across all the sectors in Sri Lanka (ICTA, 2011b; 2011c; 2011d; 2011e). The significant impact of these commitments has been reflected on the IT literacy growth from 9.7% in 1994 to 16% in 2007 according to the survey conducted by the Department of Census and Statistics of Sri Lanka (DCSSL, 2011). Also the government has reported IT literacy as 30% by 2009 and predicted it to be 60% by 2010 although there have been no proper surveys conducted for the periods 2009 and 2010 (ICTA, 2011f).
There has been very limited literature found with regards to eReadiness in Sri Lanka. However, extensive studies have been found in eCommerce adoption with varying focuses.
Davidrajuh et al. (2008) in a study on “Improving E-Readiness of Sri Lanka with Supplementary Grid Supplied Electric Power” has recognised the need for several eReadiness improvement projects which have been defined in a two dimensional grid of Magnitude versus Complexity. Magnitudes are defined as National and Community levels whereas complexity is defined as ‘Incremental’, which refers to bringing in improvements to the existing structures, ‘Innovation’, which is intended to introduce new projects to the community, and finally ‘Radical’, which is intended to bring in projects that are new to the country itself. In this proposal the author has identified the introduction of curricula and required training to staff, skills development, niche based developments such as village upliftment, women’s development and job training, introducing new technologies and business systems, increasing government interest, and enabling more ICT based facilities as the significant needs which the projects need to cover (Davidrajuh et al., 2008).
In another case study on eSri Lanka, Davidrajuh (2009) has identified the eGovernment initiative as a three componential construct that constitutes Government, Businesses and Citizens. Though the study was on eGovernment strategies, the recognition to bridge the ICT short-comings of aforesaid three components is very much related to this study since this reflects on the eReadiness. His conclusion primarily covered three recommendations which included basic infrastructure developments that involve developing “technological, financial, legal and regulatory framewroks”, enabling the “agility of the economy” - this refers to the developments related to the ability to introduce innovation and efficiency while maintaining higher quality, and finally developing “the consumer base” - this involves developing the environment that enables consumers to enjoy their buying power, use credit cards, affordable living costs, and providing higher living standards (Davidrajuh, 2009).
A study on Barriers to Adopting ICT and e-commerce with SMEs by Kapurubandara and Lawson (2006) indicated the recognition of the internal and external factors that are already defined in the eReadiness frameworks which reconfirmed the need for readiness of the external environment to enable a successful eCommerce adoption by business entities. However, their study has particularly focused on SMEs (Kapurubandara and Lawson, 2006).
There have been various inhibitors to eCommerce. Survey results and recommendations indicated in several other research studies have been found to be outdated with the recent developments in Sri Lanka (Asia Foundation, 2011; Kaushik, 2001; Lane et al., 2004). It has also been observed that there is very limited up-to-date literature found in the context of Sri Lanka. Also, the author of this research found no value in stating obsolete literature that does not provide information on recent developments in Sri Lanka.
Overall, the chapter has attempted to give justice to understanding the theoretical background and various research findings, discussions and recommendations found in the existing literature.
Author classified the factors influencing eReadiness into Intrinsic and extrinsic factors. The intrinsic factors mainly revolve around attitudes, beliefs, and motivation, whereas the extrinsic factors are entirely the subsets of elements which constitute the required infrastructure. The infrastructure has then been identified as physical and soft infrastructure. Basically it was argued that the infrastructure constitutes of business eReadiness and eEnabling environments.
In addition to that author also discussed various developments and contextual information on Sri Lanka to provide a well-defined research platform for the research.