Information literacy amongst UK SMEs: an information policy gap

Martin De Saulles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore information literacy amongst small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the UK and the USA and argue that information policy in the UK has not given sufficient attention to helping these companies navigate the ever-increasing volumes of information accessible over the internet. Design/methodology/approach – A combination of primary and secondary data have been used. The primary data consists of a survey of UK SMEs, which explored how these companies use the internet as a research tool. The results of the survey are compared to similar surveys carried out in the USA. Several significant UK policy documents are examined to find out how government policy in this area has addressed the issue of information literacy amongst SMEs. Findings – It is shown that UK SMEs wasted over £3.7 billion in 2005 in terms of time wasted through inefficient use of the internet as a research tool. Practical implications – It is argued that while government policies in this area have put resources into encouraging SMEs to adopt broadband and engage in e-commerce, they have not sufficiently addressed the issue of information literacy. Originality/value – Little research has been carried out into how SMEs use the internet as a research tool, and this is the first time that a financial cost figure has been applied to inefficient searching by these organisations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-79
Number of pages12
JournalAslib Proceedings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


  • Information literacy
  • Internet
  • Small businesses
  • SMEs


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