Networking Is Key To Spreading E-Business In Europe

April 21, 2003

That’s the conclusion reached by all speakers at a lecture held by the Open University Business School, Europe’s largest business school, on April 8 in Brussels.

The lecture, e-business in e-Europe: is small beautiful? was attended by a mix of more than 50 practitioners, guests, OUBS MBA alumni and students. The panel of speakers also concluded that European SMEs are well positioned to become successful e-businesses.

Speakers included Dr Colin Gray from the OUBS, who is currently researching e-business take-up among European SMEs, Dana Eleftheriadou from the European Commission, Steven Laycock, MD of, and Guy Harrison from the British Embassy. The event was chaired by OUBS Dean Professor Roland Kaye.

Dana Eleftheriadou said:

“As the Commission began benchmarking across EU members it became clear that it was important that e-policymakers networked with each other to identify best practice. Benchmarking itself was less important than facilitating the exchange of knowledge and experience.”

Dr Colin Gray emphasised the important of networking at all levels:

“All forms of networking are key to encouraging businesses to adopt and incorporate new technology. Social, community, learning, environmental, cultural, industrial, commercial and supply chains networks all have important parts to play.”

Steven Laycock emphasised the importance of data networking:

“When I began my MBA I didn’t believe in networking, now the further I get into this business the more I believe in it.”

The speakers also identified a number of barriers facing SMEs.

“Many SMEs do not want to grow, many want to avoid change, and many cannot afford to take risks because stability is what SMEs aspire to,” said Dr Gray.

Steven Laycock identified social and cultural issues as further barriers to cross border e-business. “Complexity is also a barrier to entry,” he said.

Editor’s notes: The Open University Business School (OUBS) is Europe’s leading business school and the major provider of management development programmes delivered by supported distance learning.

There are currently 1,750 OUBS students studying across Continental Western Europe.

OUBS is one of an elite group of UK and European business schools to hold both the prestigious EQUIS quality kitemark, awarded by the European Foundation for Management Development (efmd), and AMBA (the Association of MBAs) accreditation for its MBA. Currently the OUBS has 30,000 students based in the UK and more than 40 countries. Since its inception in 1983, more than 150,000 managers have studied an OUBS course at Certificate, Diploma or MBA level. The School which has its European Office in Brussels is based at the Open University’s Milton Keynes headquarters in the UK. Its website can be found at:

Contact details

OUBS in Brussels Cheryl Beasley 00 322 6443371

OUBS UK Jessica Magill 01908 655042