Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Management


Faculty of Business and Law

First Advisor

Dr Denise Gengatharen

Second Advisor

Dr Phil Dobson


Electronic marketplaces (e-marketplaces) have been researched over many years from the study of electronic data interchange (EDI) systems to the current internet based trading platforms. Early e-marketplaces connected a buyer and supplier using proprietary systems that established a market hierarchy. The buyer was responsible for the system, established the terms of trade and the electronically enabled supplier could connect to the system. These systems were costly to build, which limited their use, and only organisations with an integrated system could use them. The web based e-marketplaces opened up the possibility of connecting many buyers and suppliers and enabling electronic transactions. The e-marketplace offers opportunities for establishing trade relationships with many organisations across the world. Business to business (B2B) e-commerce is a significant part of the Australian economy and there are opportunities to take advantage of e-marketplace trading. One of the advantages of electronic trading is the ability of the technology to deliver transaction benefits; these can have a significant impact on organisations regardless of organisational size. However, despite the potential of the e-marketplace to deliver organisational benefits there have been limited studies which consider the strategic implementation of e-marketplace trading.

Organisational strategy and the implementation of strategic initiatives involve interactions between organisational structures and agents. The analytical dualism this represents complicates uncovering the fundamental causes of e-marketplace participation. Not only does the adoption of e-marketplace trading impact on the buyer and supplier organisations, it introduces the e-marketplace vendor organisation and the e-marketplace technology into the participation decision. The complexity of the interactions across organisational structures and between organisational agents and technology adoption can produce a diversity of outcomes.

The philosophical underpinning of critical realism for the study is supported by the lack of understanding as to why, and in what circumstances, organisations successfully participate in e-marketplace trading. The critical realist philosophy provides the opportunity to understand the interrelationships between context, organisational structures and agents and identify the causal mechanisms involved in producing various outcomes. It allows for the development of middle level theory as existing theories are examined to explain the perceived phenomena.

Large organisations operating in Western Australia are used as case studies to uncover the causal relationships between context, structures and agents that can produce successful, strategic implementation of e-marketplace participation. Existing literature in relation to e-marketplaces and IT adoption is used to develop the research questions and formulate the interview questions. The structured case methodology is used to analyse each case and relate the findings to possible explanatory theories. Context, mechanism and outcome patterns, identified in each case, are presented.

Building on economic market, institutional and network theories the research identifies organising vision theory and community discourse as explanations for organisational legitimation that can circumscribe the use of e-marketplace trading. Six types of community group that influence organisational adoption of e-marketplace technology are identified. The research suggests that the influence of these groups within the organisation, the fit with organisational culture and strategic objectives can prevent or instigate change. Further, the decision making process supported by the group (or group member) is more influential in the strategic adoption of the e-marketplace than the ability of the technology to deliver efficiency or transaction processing gains. This implies that technology adoption studies should include contextual and environmental issues and practitioners should examine how much their decision making is influenced by organisational and environmental features.

The thesis contributes to the discussion on organising vision theory, e-marketplace trading and business value creation. It demonstrates the application of the structured case study methodology to research that is underpinned by critical realism.

Included in

E-Commerce Commons


Paper Location