An information technology adoption model for the rural socio-cultural context in developing countries
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This exploratory research focuses on impacts of the rural socio-cultural context on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) adoption for business information needs using the Maldives as the study context, and attempts to develop a model to capture the influences of the rural context on ICT adoption decisions. The numerous ways in which rural context differs from urban context, such as small markets combined with familiarity among community members and reliance on interpersonal relationships, suggest potential impacts on the nature and management practices of rural businesses and provide an approach to explore ICT use in rural settings. Using findings from the literature, a theoretical framework was developed to outline how the socio-cultural context of a rural community of a developing country might affect ICT adoption by rural businesses. The research model predicts relationships between context factors and perceived benefits and barriers of ICTs, and between these perceptions and intentions to adopt/use ICTs. The initial phase of the research was exploratory in nature focusing on a few selected rural and urban businesses and the second phase consisted of a quantitative survey of 314 rural and urban businesses. The findings supported predicted differences between rural and urban contexts for all five factors included in the research model. The results also show that context factors explain 35.5% of variance on perceived benefits of ICTs and 49.3% variance on perceived barriers of ICTs. The findings raised questions about the disjoint between opinions of ICTs and actual use and the limited value derived from ICTs. The research also highlighted that promoting ICT adoption in rural businesses was a highly complex issue that has important linkages to public policy support. Overall, this research provides important insights into the complex dynamics that exist in rural settings that have implications for ICT use and provides empirical evidence to illustrate differences between urban and rural contexts, as well as the level of influence from different context factors on ICT adoption. This research has relevance for organizations working towards the development of rural communities.