University of Oulu

Business relationship digitalization : a case study from the steel processing industry

Saved in:
Author: Salo, Jari1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Department of Marketing
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: 2006
Publish Date: 2006-10-10
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented, with the assent of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of the University of Oulu, for public defence in Auditorium TA105, Linnanmaa, on October 20th, 2006, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Professor Jukka Heikkilä
Professor David T. Wilson


Although research into the digitalization of business has grown in recent years, the focus has predominantly been on the impacts of digitalization on business in general, and not on the business relationship digitalization process. In this dissertation, the author addresses how digitalization affects business relationships and provides an illustration of the process of business relationships digitalization in the steel processing industry context. Drawing from the Industrial Marketing and Purchasing based business relationship literature and evolving digitalization literature the author develops a framework that includes six factors and their characteristics that describe the digitalization of business relationships. This dissertation also provides pertinent managerial insights into select business relationships to be digitalized as well as offers guidelines to digitalize chosen business relationships. The dissertation is divided into three parts.

The theoretical elaboration presented in part one of the dissertation identifies and illustrates two important theoretical discussions underlying business relationship digitalization. These are the business relationships perspective and digitalization literature composed of information systems and information technology literature, electronic commerce, and electronic business discussions. Based on these, a preliminary framework is developed.

In part two, the preliminary framework is applied to the selected industry, i.e. the steel processing industry. The two case studies from the steel processing industry provide the empirical material according to which the preliminary framework is compared and modified.

In part three, the empirically grounded framework is depicted and the theoretical results reveal that business relationship digitalization is a complex process and that there are six factors: antecedents, accelerants, inhibitors, decision, digitalization, the outcome of event and their characteristics that influence the degree of business relationship digitalization and digitalization process. It is also noteworthy that digitalization success is dependent on many inter-organizational contingencies, such as interpersonal trust and the digitalizability of the exchange process. Additionally, the managerial results highlight the importance of systematically managing important business relationships and their digitalization. Furthermore, it is pinpointed that digitalization usually enhances existing business relationships by enabling faster and more accurate communication as well as more efficient transactions. To conclude, the dissertation provides several conceptual and managerial insights into business relationship digitalization. The author also suggests future studies around this emerging phenomenon.

see all

Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. G, Oeconomica
ISSN-E: 1796-2269
ISBN: 951-42-8239-6
ISBN Print: 951-42-8238-8
Issue: 24
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2006. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.