in Germany. In fact, the high level of ICT and e commerce usage enables SMEs, in particular, to 
achieve the full potential of these benefits.  
Proposition 2: SMEs are important drivers of e commerce implementation and 
usage. The innovation friendly character of SMEs in the form of early adopters of new 
technologies together with the potential benefits offered by a variety of different solutions 
will help to close the digital divide between large firms and SMEs. 
As an export oriented nation, Germany has to compete in nearly all economic sectors on an 
international level. Due to this, the need for cost oriented and efficient production and 
distribution processes has a long tradition. Nevertheless, some industry sectors have done better 
and are today relatively more famous for their long tradition of computer based electronic data 
processing and transmission than other sectors. For instance, inside the manufacturing sector, the 
automotive industry developed successful EDI standards and delivery processes, resulting in 
considerable savings of time and money. Data medium exchange, EDI standards such as SWIFT, 
as well as payment clearing in computer centers are inventions made in the last century in the 
banking industry. In comparison to these two latter sectors with their high market concentration 
and mature experiences in electronic based business processing, the retail and wholesale sectors 
are much more fragmented and best practice cases such as in the latter sectors are relatively 
unknown. EDI diffusion in these two sectors, for instance, is not as far developed as in the other 
two sectors surveyed in this paper.
Proposition 3: The affiliation to an industry sector has a direct impact on the extent 
of diffusion of e commerce related technologies and standards within that industry. 
Industries with a long tradition in mainframe and EDI applications enjoy better 
prerequisites to initiate successful e commerce solutions. 
Gaining the full potential and benefits from e commerce technologies depends, aside from the 
size and industry affiliation of a firm, even more on the subsequent integration and 
implementation into business processes (while, at the same time, these processes must be 
adjusted). The efficient and consistent usage is therefore more important than the mere existence 
of such technologies. 
Proposition 4: A strategic and consistent realization of e commerce is necessary to 
develop its full benefit. An efficient implementation improves the strategic position of a 
firm and increases both the measurable outputs and the satisfaction with new 
technologies. Therefore, the efficient use of e commerce is positively related to the 
number of e commerce solutions deployed. 
In order to analyze the stated propositions, the authors describe the methods used to identify the 
rate of e commerce diffusion among the surveyed industries. The following section provides 
information about the underlying survey and the empirical data used to test the validity of the 
formulated propositions. This is followed by a discussion of the chosen methods of analysis and 
the results to explain the rate of diffusion, as well as efficient usage behavior.

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