The importance of partnerships: The relationship between Small Businesses, ICT and local communities

11 Oct 2013

The deployment of new technologies such as the Internet is often understood to positively change the way that business works. However it is important to realise that success is not automatic and a number of other factors must also be considered. In this paper it is argued that a wider range of skills is needed than just technical skills, and a wider vision is needed than just the vision of one business. Small businesses, widely considered a suitable vehicle for sustainable development, must be seen in the context of their communities, for their relationship with public sector agencies and other supporting and regulatory bodies, and as partners to much larger businesses. This paper is based on small-scale qualitative fieldwork conducted with small businesses that make extensive use of ICT located in Cape Town, South Africa and Swansea in South Wales, a deprived region of the UK. It was found that for businesses to succeed a range of competencies are by business managers needed that facilitate relationships and partnerships, these are in addition to the skills needed for simple internal operational issues. Moreover as the nature of partnerships change the mix of required competencies vary from one circumstance to another. A model is presented that shows some of the critical relationships between the Internet (on the one hand) and the stakeholders of a business and the relationships with them (on the other). Keywords: Partnership management, small business, ICT, social impact, community informatics, business development