Exploring sources of competitive advantage: e-business applications within the Chinese real estate industry

Hinton, C. Matthew and Tao, Yan (2006). Exploring sources of competitive advantage: e-business applications within the Chinese real estate industry. Journal of Technology Management in China, 1(1) pp. 92–106.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/17468770610642777


Purpose – To investigate the key sources of competitive advantage gained from e-business applications by Chinese real estate developers and whether the value chain theory and its related theories can explain this phenomenon.
Design/methodology/approach – A key issue in e-business is how established companies can gain competitive advantage. Despite the interest in e-business applications, few empirical studies have been carried out to look at how “clicks-and-mortar” approaches offer competitive advantages, especially from specific industry perspectives. By using a qualitative case study approach this study addresses this.
Findings – The study shows that the value chain framework is useful to identify and categorize possible e-business application areas. Moreover, this categorization makes identification of key sources of competitive advantage explicit. However, this framework cannot fully explain the success of e-business applications nor the realization of intended motivations.
Research limitations/implications – Further research is needed to make the value chain model become an easily-used, practical guideline for e-business implementation. This study has focussed on one specific industry within China (centre on real estate) so generalisation to other industries is limited at this stage. Similar research in other sectors will go a long way to addressing this.
Practical implications – Offers organizations a theoretical framework which helps to support the identification of appropriate e-business applications. Furthermore, it closes the gap between strategic direction and subsequent system implementation.
Originality/value – This paper provides empirical evidence of how established organizations gain competitive advantage through their e-business applications. Furthermore, it offers insight into how value chain theory helps to explain this phenomenon within the context of ongoing changes within the Chinese economy.

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