Academic journal article International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies

Defining Cooperative Business Models for Interorganizational Cooperation

Academic journal article International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies

Defining Cooperative Business Models for Interorganizational Cooperation

Article excerpt


Usage of software platforms alongside the business transformation potential of information and communication technology enables cooperation between different companies in both open and networked environments. This is possible when multiple actors cooperate in the delivery of services; each one contributes its own resources, and there is an underlying attractive business model for all of the players involved. This research paper investigates the definition process of a cooperative business model, which involves partners from different countries with different levels of technology, different markets, and different statutory regulations. The aim of this paper is to contribute to both theory and practice by introducing an approach for a cooperative business model definition that can be used in instances where there are conflicting requirements of partners who are willing to cooperate. In the case which is analyzed in this paper, the premature identification of the exploitation alternative scenarios among partners, the adoption of a perspective based on customers' needs by the means of the business episode concept, and the usage of the business model ontology for the description of the structure of the cooperative business model, have helped the different partners to successfully converge to a common and agreed solution.

Keywords: Cooperative Business Model, Business Episode, IT Exploitation, Cooperative Technologies, Action Research


Information Technology (IT) solutions can be potential enablers for operational excellence, efficiency, and business transformation1. In a recent essay, Hanseth and Lyytinen2 defined a classification of IT solutions whereby IT capabilities, applications, platforms, and information infrastructures represent classes of increasing complexity. Their analysis of platforms that embed both IT capabilities and applications, poses the basis for the development of information infrastructures and the mechanisms to deal with a heterogeneous and growing user base.

These platforms enable large monolithic organizations which cover a broad range of services, distribution channels, and customer segments to transform into networked organizations that are focused either on a specific production process or on a specific customer process in cooperation with other organizations3. Such a scenario raises the importance of concentrating on the issue of developing new services. According to the open innovation approach, this is possible in an open networked environment in which multiple actors (both public and private) collaborate on delivering innovative services with an underlying business model that is attractive to all participants involved4.

Service innovations and business models do not belong exclusively to the private sector domain, but are also a concern for the public sector through the actions of e-government5. Indeed, the European Union (EU) defines e-government as the deployment of ICT in public administration combined with organizational change and new skills in order to improve public services and democratic processes, as well as the strengthening of support to public policies6. The European strategy on e-government aims to bring public administration closer to citizens and enterprises through the provision of innovative services by facilitating the interoperability of services and systems among public administration, as well as between administration and the public (citizens and enterprises) at a pan-European level7. In order to translate this objective into practice, a series of recommendations have been issued as a practical guide for reaching organizational interoperability among service providers. Within the guidelines, concepts such as a One-stop shop approach, Life event, and Business Episode are defined in order to facilitate implementation of new services7.

The objective of this paper is to investigate the definition process of a cooperative business model for an innovative platform used to deliver e-government services within the context of the EU. …

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