The role played by small business in economic growth and development in the world is officially recognized, in both the economic literature and in official documents (i.e. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, European Commission, U.S. Department of State).Information and communication technology connectivity are widespread in all sized businesses but small businesses seem slower than larger ones to adopt and use ICT and electronic commerce.SMEs (small- medium- sized enterprises) are independent firms which employ less than 10 (micro), 50 (small) and 250 (medium) employees (European Commission, 2003); the United States includes firms with fewer than 500 employees in the definition of an SME (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2000a). In Europe, SMEs contribute up to 80% of employment in some industrial sectors (i.e. textiles, construction or furniture) and they are defined «a major source of entrepreneurial skills, innovation and contribute to economic and social cohesion» (European Commission, 2005, p. 3); in the U.S. economy, small businesses represent 99.7% percent of all employers and «broaden a base of participation in society, create jobs, decentralize economic power and give people a stake in the future» (U.S. Department of State, 2006, p. 2).To synthesize: over 95% of OECD enterprises are SMEs, and account for 60/70% of employment in most countries (OECD, 2000a).The same proportion is indicated by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development; in fact, SMEs account for 60 to 70 percent of all employment in developing countries (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development [UNCTAD], 2002).
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