Exploring sources of competitive advantage in e-business applications: A cross-industries case study in mainland China

Tao, Yan (2011). Exploring sources of competitive advantage in e-business applications: A cross-industries case study in mainland China. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000ee76


A review of existing literature revealed that little theoretical framework exists to capture e-business-enabled value creation through an integrated approach that includes the environmental view and resource-based view (RBV). Furthermore, little empirical research has been conducted to test these theoretical frameworks, in particular in the Chinese business context. The aim of this research is to extend the theoretical and practical understanding of e-business-enabled sources of competitive advantage (SCA) in China. The value chain (VC) concept, virtual value chain (VVC) framework and RBV were identified from the literature as the key constructs to underpin the theoretical basis. The research design used a qualitative research methodology consisting of indepth case studies of nine leading Chinese companies in three industries - housing development, manufacturing, and B2C.

The principle finding is the formulation of a theoretical framework for investigating ebusiness value creations which integrates the key constructs of the VVC, online information capabilities (OIC), value system and RVB. This research also proposes a typology of five generic types of key e-business applications which states clearly the relationships between key e-business applications and SCA. Finally, this research demonstrates that e-business value creation features differently between two groups: Internet pragmatist and Internet pioneers.

The research offers a number of contributions to the field of e-business value creation. Firstly, it introduces the concepts of OIC and value system to the VVC. It also provides empirical test of the analytical framework. In addition, this research provides an indepth understanding of the relationships between types of e-business applications and key SCA. Finally, this research identifies and explains the key differences and similarities between the three industries, within each industry, and between the two key groups.

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