A study of e-market adoption barriers in the local government sector

Michael Johnson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Recent changes in the UK political landscape have brought about cuts in public sector spending. Local authorities, in common with other public sector agencies, are required to make significant cost savings over the coming years. Procurement is an area of public sector administration characterised by considerable costs and inefficiency where the adoption of innovative technologies, such as e-markets, can be deployed to effect significant costs savings. However, there are many barriers to the adoption of such technologies. The purpose of this paper is to explore and expound the factors that impede local authorities from adopting e-markets and to present a learning opportunity for procurement managers and other stakeholders involved in technology adoption in local government and the wider public sector. Design/methodology/approach: A case study based on in depth interviews with 17 senior level executives in e-markets and local authorities on barriers to e-market adoption in the local government sector is presented. The interviews were transcribed and subsequently coded and analysed using the qualitative data analysis software QSR N6. Findings: A number of factors (risk perception, knowledge deficits, trust, firm size, and organisational readiness) pertaining to Johnson's framework of e-market adoption barriers were found to affect e-market adoption and use in the local government sector. Importantly, the study also found factors that are idiosyncratic to the sector that impinged on e-market adoption. Research limitations/implications: The scope of the study is limited to examining such barriers from a buy-side local authority perspective, the findings of which may have implications for the adoption of e-markets and other e-procurement technologies in the wider public sector and beyond. The paper also makes a contribution to the literature on e-market adoption by adding to the body of knowledge relating to institutional theory. Practical implications: The case study can help local authority and other public sector procurement managers, academic researchers, practitioners, consultants and other professionals involved in technology adoption better understand, and find practical ways to offset, the barriers that impinge on the adoption of e-markets and other innovative technologies that can reduce costs within public sector organisations. Originality/value: E-market adoption has the potential to realise a number of significant cost saving benefits within and between organisations. However, such benefits cannot be realised if there are barriers to their adoption and full utilisation. To date, research on the dynamics of e-market adoption has largely focused on private sector enterprises with few studies examining this phenomenon in public sector environments. Therefore, e-market adoption in the public sector has received limited attention in the literature over the past decade. This study examines, and provides empirical evidence of, barriers to e-market uptake and usage in the local government sector in order to act as a starting point to creating better understanding of such barriers among academic and practitioner audiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-536
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Enterprise Information Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • case study research
  • e-market adoption barriers
  • e-procurement
  • local authorities
  • local government
  • local government sector
  • public sector procurement
  • United Kingdom


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