An enhanced conceptual model of factors affecting the adoption of cloud computing in SMEs : a case study of Saudi Arabia

  • Fahad Alghamdi

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The adoption of cloud computing technology provides small and medium-sized enterprises
(SMEs) with several significant benefits. The benefits include, but are not limited to, cost
reduction, scalability, and business sustainability. Although this has been proven true in
developed countries, the success rate is mixed in developing countries such as Saudi Arabia.
Therefore, in an effort to encourage SMEs’ to adopt cloud computing so they can realise full
potential and benefits, a thorough investigation of the resistance factors within these enterprises
that have been preventing adoption is much needed and forms the major motivation for this
research. An investigation is envisaged that provides an evidence-based analysis and models
for decisions to effectively adopt the proposed model that best suits the Saudi Arabian SME
Realising the Technology-Organization-Environment (TOE) framework as the underpinning
fundamental and scientific basis, an enhanced conceptual model of factors affecting cloud
computing in SMEs (ECMACC) is developed. ECMACC incorporates critical factors derived
from previous studies such as security, data privacy, top management support along with new
factors specifically from the Saudi Arabian context which have emerged during the current
study. These new factors have not been investigated in previous studies on cloud computing
adoption by SMEs. The factors include the availability of software-package customisation,
duration time of cloud solution implementation, and the capability of cloud solution to be
integrated with the existing systems and technologies in the firm. In addition, interesting new
factors have also been recorded during the experts’ interviews and have therefore been
incorporated into the conceptual model. A sequential mixed research method approach is
applied to investigate, verify, and examine the factors included in the final conceptual model as
part of the current study The research initially surveys relevant studies from previous literature to identify the most
critical factors which have affected cloud computing adoption in SMEs. Second, following the
literature review, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 technology experts which
allowed the researcher to verify factors pre-identified from the literature, incorporate several
new factors that emerged from the data such as local data centre, national technology
infrastructure, cloud computing knowledge, and culture. Third, in the quantitative phase, a
questionnaire to collect data from IT executives, IT managers, and IT employees of SMEs in
Saudi Arabia was distributed. A usable sample of 215 responses were collected and analysed
to assess the conceptual model. The conceptual model and the proposed hypotheses were tested
using the Partial Least Square Structural Equation Modelling (PLS-SEM) technique.
The findings of the empirical data show that the developed model has significance of 63%
predictive power: the relationships between the incorporated factors and the intention to adopt
cloud computing by SMEs in Saudi Arabia in the ECMACC are statistically substantial. Six
factors are significantly predictive of the decision to adopt cloud computing by SMEs in Saudi
Arabia. The factors are three technological factors (ease of use, expected benefits, security),
one organizational factor (top management support), and two environmental factors
(competitive pressure, local data centre). The results confirm that the collected data
fits within the ECMACC well. In all, this research contributes to the body of knowledge of
technology adoption by examining and evaluating several new factors which could impact
SMEs’ decisions to adopt cloud computing, with new empirical evidence from a fast-growing
developing country such as Saudi Arabia. An enhanced model that better responds to the Saudi
Arabian context is developed. The new model ECMACC is benchmarked and validated with
data collected from the practices and informed views of the different segments of
adopters. From a practical standpoint, the findings of this study provide a considered view to the government of Saudi Arabia as well as technology providers who are interested in the
adoption of cloud computing in SMEs by addressing the barriers that face its adoption.
This research paves the way for future researchers to utilise the enhanced conceptual model of
this research for further investigations in different contexts such as micro or start-up firms either
in Saudi Arabia or in other developing centuries. Future researchers could also benefit from the
ECMACC study by testing it with large enterprises and compare the findings between the two
different contexts.
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDharmendra Sharma AM PhD (Supervisor), Bala Balachandran (Supervisor), Masoud Mohammadian (Supervisor), Majharul Talukder (Supervisor), Ali Quazi (Supervisor) & Milind Sathye (Supervisor)

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