Limitations and directions for future research

The research is not without its limitations, and these should be considered in terms of the impact on the findings of the research. One limitation concerns the way in which data was captured concerning the length of time the web site had been in operation. Since the data captured was not entirely continuous data, limitations were placed on the type of analysis that could be conducted. In fairness, however, it would be unrealistic to expect companies to recall the exact month when the web site was developed if that event occurred several years ago.

The use of retrospective data is also a limitation affecting respondent ability to recall critical incidents (Fountain, 1999). For example, the longer the time period between events and data gathering, the greater the danger that participants may reply with expected stereotypical responses (such as the supposed halo effect noted earlier in relation to the overall importance of "strategic decisions"). In order to minimise these effects, the comprehensiveness of incidents was compared against the literature in the field as well as with a sample of intermediaries. In terms of the face validity of the categories and their constructs, Fountain (1999) notes that when a priori categories are used in studies where existing theories are clear (as in the case of this research), the validity of categories becomes less problematic than when categories are built inferentially from the data. Further studies could overcome these limitations by gathering the data longitudinally at the same time as technology adoption occurs, however, the time lags would be greater.

Another limitation concerns the scope of web facilities that could be incorporated in the study. It was acknowledged in the paper that use of internet technology by financial intermediaries is quite low in the UK, hence the scope of facilities covered by the survey was scaled down to reflect current usage patterns. Future research could extend this to

take account of a wider range of facilities as they become more widespread.

This study only focused on companies that had adopted the web and the critical factors affecting adoption. A similar study could be conducted into firms that have not adopted the web to understand critical factors preventing or inhibiting adoption. As well as snap-shot studies, such research could also be conducted longitudinally based on a systematic analysis of the relationships between observed external events and technology adoption as they occur.

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