Explaining adoption of inter-organisational systems in the context of E-Markets : case studies of six Hong Kong based SME trading firms

研究在電子交易市場框架下企業如何採納跨機構系統 : 六個香港中小型貿易公司案例分析

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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  • Probir Kumar BANERJEE

Related Research Unit(s)


Awarding Institution
  • Chee Keung Louis MA (Supervisor)
Award date15 Feb 2005


Survey reports indicate that the growth predictions of Internet based B2B activity has not kept pace with expectations. Third-party B2B e-markets, with their potential, have yet not been able to woo the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) firms. This research takes the view that though B2B e-markets have not made their mark yet, the slow but steady growth of Internet based B2B activity could eventually lead to direct buyer-seller contacts through the e-market, thereby putting the present strong foothold of Hong Kong’s trading firms into jeopardy with adverse implications for the economy of Hong Kong. The situation therefore warranted a deeper study of the phenomena and that forms the practical motivation for this study. The two theoretical tenets that motivated the research are as follows: In the context of Inter-Organisational Systems adoption, the direct path from ‘intent to adopt’ to ‘adoption’ used in prior studies may not hold good in all situations. In the emarket context, which is a special case of an Inter-Organisational System, it is argued that perceptions of risk become an impediment to usage. Prior literature on psychology suggests that where impediments are perceived in the usage of an object, effort may be directed towards ‘Trying’ to attain an intermediate goal as a path to the final goal. Thus, e-market adoption would proceed through an intermediate stage of ‘Trying’ during which ‘Trial(s)’ would be conducted. Results of ‘Trial(s)’ would determine the final goal of ‘Adoption’. Thus the path to adoption would be through a causal chain of Intent to Try -> Trying -> Trial (s). The second theoretical aspect of this research is the departure from the traditional thinking that a single intent to adopt (as used in prior research) is a good predictor of future adoption in all situations. B2B e-markets are systems that comprise of a network of buyers and sellers as well as a technical platform for conducting business transactions. Intent to adopt must be present for both - doing business with the network of unknown clients as well as to use the transactional features provided by the e-market platform. Both must be adopted to consummate a B2B e-market based deal. Adoption of one or the other would mean partial adoption. In further refinement, if the SME trading firm’s role as an intermediary - buying from one and selling to another is considered, then the intents in the two roles of buyer and seller need to be studied separately. Prior research points to the possible differences in perceptions in the two roles. Furthermore, these different intents may have to be evaluated in the context of benefits and risk that the SME firms derive from extant client networks and extant established methods of conducting business. Adoption of e-market is therefore viewed as a complex process that involves the formation of several intents in a complex environment. Predicting adoption with a single intent in such situations may be an over-simplification. Based on the above tenets, this research develops (1) a framework that delineates a single intent into its constitutive components and (2) validates it with an a-priori causal model based on the tenets of an EDI adoption model used in prior research, augmented with the causal chain of Intent to Try -> Trying -> Trial. Case studies of Six Hong Kong based SME trading firms confirm the presence of separate intents to adopt new clients and transactional features of the e-market. Partial confirmation is also found in regard to these intents being impacted by the difference in buyer and seller roles of the firms. In terms of theoretical contribution, this research points to the need to extend extant theoretical insights of technology adoption in general and IOS adoption in particular by examining observable states of behavior – those of Trying and Trial(s) – as predictors of future Adoption. In addition it indicates the need to extend adoption studies beyond ‘Intent’ and encompass ‘Adoption’. In terms of e-market adoption, it points to the need to look beyond the markets and hierarchy contexts and to examine a third form of exchange mechanism – that of trust based relationships and trust based methods of transactions. The practical contribution of this research is the direction provided to the SME trading firms of Hong Kong and the sponsors of B2B third party e-markets. SME trading firms of Hong Kong would need to enact new business models that add more value in the supply chain, as opposed to doing pure trading. In doing so, they may need to explore the possibilities of developing relational competence by tapping on the inter-organisational linkages that e-markets may provide and integrating it into their business model. Failure to enact new business models and to re-intermediate with value-added services through the e-market may result in their rapid dis-intermediation. The message for sponsors of B2B e-markets is that they need to direct their efforts towards building more trust and confidence in the minds of the SMEs and provide them with pro-active guidance for enacting new business models through the e-market. In doing so, B2B e-markets e-markets would need to build the knowledge base of organizational competencies so as to be able to create inter-organisational linkages for collaborative commerce on the e-market platform.

    Research areas

  • Electronic commerce, Small business, Computer networks, Business networks, China, Hong Kong, Trading companies, Case studies