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The strategic mediator: a paradoxical role for a collaborative e-marketplace
Cecilia Rossignoli
Andrea Carugati
2009, Electronic Markets, 19, pp.55-66
The last 10 years have witnessed the emergence of electronic marketplaces as players that leverage new technologies to facilitate B2B internet-mediated collaborative business. Nowadays these players are augmenting their services from simple intermediation to include new inter-organizational relationships. The interest of this paper is to investigate the shift in the role and evolution of services proposed by e-marketplaces in response to the demands of the market participants. We carried out a longitudinal qualitative field study of an e-marketplace providing the outsourcing of the procurement process. Through the study of services evolving over time we show that, as marketplaces support increasingly complex business processes, the market participants begin to privilege the well connected small number to the convenience of the openness to the entire market. The participants see the marketplace as an exclusive club, the belonging to which provides a strategic advantage. The technology brought forth by the marketplace participates in shaping the strategic demands of the participants which in turn request the marketplace to redesign its own strategy. Profiting from this unintended demand, the e-marketplace assumes the paradoxical role of a strategic mediator: an agent who upholds and heightens the fences of the transactions instead of leveling them. The results have implication in shaping how we see the role of technology as strategic or commoditized.
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