Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

Types of Business-to-Business E-Marketplaces: The Role of a Theory-Based, Domain-Specific Model

Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

Types of Business-to-Business E-Marketplaces: The Role of a Theory-Based, Domain-Specific Model

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

In this study, we seek to further our knowledge of e-marketplaces by exploring empirically the existence of different types of business-to-business e-marketplaces. We used the reference model for electronic markets [Schmid & Lindemann 1998] as the theoretical foundation for a domain-specific model that we used to develop a set of coherent types of e-marketplaces, based on data from 24 German e-marketplaces. Analysis using multi-dimensional scaling identified three types of e-marketplaces that differed on whether they were horizontal or vertical in nature, the services they provide, and whether they erect market barriers. Interestingly, these factors are those that managers can control most readily and that they can therefore vary to produce an e-marketplace tailored to their business. We present a theoretical analysis of our e-marketplace types based in the literature on managerial control. Our theoretical analysis, the three types of e-marketplace we determined, and the domain-specific e-marketplace model we derived to conduct our investigation, provide a foundation for creating a cumulative tradition in e-marketplace research.

Keywords: business-to-business e-marketplaces, types of e-marketplaces, domain-specific e-marketplace model,

1. Introduction

Business-to-business electronic marketplaces (henceforth EMPs) are virtual technology-enabled trading spaces that facilitate the exchange of information, goods, services, and payments among multiple buyers and sellers across companies [Bakos 1998; Zwass 2003]. Their well-defined buyer-seller relationships differentiate them from other types of brokerage networks such as auctions [Lam & Harrison-Walker 2003].

EMPs are an integral part of conducting business online [White et al. 2007; Soh et al. 2006; Gengatharen & Standing 2005; Markus & Christiaanse 2003; Kambil & van Heck 2002; Koch 2002]. In recent years, there has been considerable growth in transactions conducted via EMPs in Europe [Bitkom 2006] and in the U.S. [Grigoryan 2006]. Further, online business-to-business transaction volume in China in 2002 was ?7.228 billion, expanding to almost ?199.679 billion in 2007 [eMarket Services 2008].

Although EMPs have now been in operation for several years, prior research has been slow to develop an appropriate foundation for future research [Zwass 2003]. Emphasis has been placed on understanding the effects of factors that influence the adoption and success of EMPs, and therefore ultimately guide future EMP developments. This type of research has produced a variety of classifications of business models, strategies, and success factors [see, for example, Hopkins and Kehoe, 2007; Gosain & Palmer 2004; Fairchild et al. 2004; Soh & Markus 2002]. Prior research has also focused on specific perspectives of EMPs, such as the services offered, the nature of the customers, and technical communication standards.

What is missing from prior research is a theoretical model of EMPs that structures and unifies the field. One of the major problems is that researchers view all EMPs as being similar and therefore do not distinguish among different types of EMPs. Studies of EMPs that do not explicitly recognize the fact that they are addressing essentially different objects fosters confusion in the field and hinders the development of well-defined and durable knowledge. For research to progress, it is therefore important to identify types of EMPs with well-defined characteristics that differ in the way in which they conduct business.

We take a first, exploratory step toward addressing our objective of providing structure to the field of EMPs by developing a theoretically-based domain-specific EMP model, which we then examine empirically to identify three well-differentiated types of EMPs. We use the reference model for electronic markets [Schmid & Lindemann 1998] as the theoretical foundation for our domain-specific model. …

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