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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : European Management Journal, Volume 22, Issue 3, June 2004, Pages 281–289
The new economy presents extraordinary opportunities for growth and profit of electronic management of business-to-business relationships. E-marketplaces, or digital exchanges, represent one of the most promising phenomena in this environment but, despite the promises, many of these B-to-B exchanges have failed in the last few years, while a few ‘survivors’ remained in the market. The purpose of this paper is to investigate business models of active e-marketplaces, to understand which features make the difference between successful initiatives and failures. The paper is based on a survey of a sample of European exchanges located in Italy. Alternative business models are described through a cluster analysis along with three dimensions: content, structure, and governance. By comparing performances of the alternative business models, the analysis is able to show key features of successful business models for B-to-B e-marketplaces. The findings show that private large exchanges have a superior capability to generate turnover compared to vertical niche operators, due to specific choices of content, structure, and governance. Managerial implications and suggestions for future research are proposed.
The new economy presents extraordinary opportunities for growth and profit for firms related to the electronic management of business-to-business relationships through renovated IT-based business models, or so-called electronic marketplaces (or exchanges) (Bakos, 1998). Despite promises, many of the B-to-B exchanges have failed in the last few years. For example, in Italy at the end of 2000, more than 120 operators were active, while three years later this number fell to approximately 40, and less than half of these survivors are able to reach the break-even point. The same trends seem to occur in other European countries (Brunn et al., 2002), and also in the US ( Kalakota et al., 1999 and Day and Kauffmann, 2002), showing that: • A large share of these exchanges was based on models which were not rooted in ‘real’ business, but often artificially pushed by ex-ante theoretical considerations; • A few operators are able to exhibit growth and profit capabilities, suggesting the existence of some ‘successful traits’ of these business models. This paper deals with these issues and, in particular, proposes to identify the conditions that, at present, seem to foster competitiveness and superior performance at some B-to-B exchanges. The paper is structured as follows. In the next section, the evolution path of B-to-B electronic marketplaces is detailed, suggesting the emergence of two big trends: neutral pure intermediaries and private captive operators. In the third section, a theoretical framework with the essential dimensions of an e-business model (structure, content, and governance) is proposed, in order to determine the discriminating features of successful models. The fourth section contains the methodology of a survey of 32 B-to-B European exchanges located in Italy, used to investigate the performance of business models. Outcomes are provided in the fifth section, confirming the existence of the two big categories of exchanges, qualifying their organizations and strategies, and pointing out how alternative structure, content, and governance approaches can either lead to profit or to failure. Superior performance of the group of ‘private’ marketplaces, with their distinguishing features, leads to some theoretical and managerial implications, discussed in the final section of the paper.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Cluster analysis, based on the three-layer (content, structure, and governance) framework, as well as the mean comparison of turnovers, suggests some relevant implications about the success of marketplace business models. First, our analysis reveals interesting elements that confirm the success of sponsored marketplaces compared to neutral hubs. According to the three layers that characterize competitive business models in the B-to-B scenario, our data shows the higher performance of ISEs in terms of turnover over time. Large exchange platforms seem to be more competitive than niche service operators focused on SMEs. Second, the focus on transaction governance allows exchanges with specific business models to create and to achieve more value, where niche intermediaries suffer from developing critical mass because of their target on SMEs. Proposition 1: Sponsored marketplaces achieve higher performances as closed marketplaces than neutral hubs. Proposition 2: Neutral marketplaces have greater problems developing critical mass (transaction volume) than sponsored ones. Moreover, consistent with the previous evidence, the governance structure of the marketplace stresses its role in determining the success of B-to-B exchanges in two directions. On the one hand, the more the marketplace is controlled by large players, the higher its performance. Big players influence their suppliers and customers - established business relationships within their supply chains – to use online exchanges as transactional platforms, where the transaction process is strongly focused on industry specialization and on dynamic price definition. On the other hand, as opposed to niche operators, large platform exchanges also show a more solid governance structure, with less change in the structure of shareholders and a less important role for financial partners. Proposition 3: The alternative governance structures positively influence the performance of sponsored marketplaces and negatively influence the performance of neutral hubs. Proposition 4: The value achieved through B-to-B e-commerce is higher when carried out within established business relationships. This paper also proposes a different perspective of business models, where their use is closer to that of strategic groups, rather than representing a simple way to provide taxonomies and classifications. This analysis obviously has some limitations, which might be addressed in future research. First, the analysis is based on the Italian environment, even if, as explained above, many of these exchanges face a European target market. It would be interesting to extend the investigation to other EU countries, to control for similar or different situations. Second, the successful conditions founded in this analysis should be seen as temporary. Future research might investigate upcoming scenarios, in order to anticipate different perspectives and winning features for the B-to-B online environment.