University of Oulu

Salo, J., Tan, T.M. and Makkonen, H. (2021), "Digitalization of the buyer–seller relationship in the steel industry", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 7, pp. 1229-1245.

Digitalization of the buyer–seller relationship in the steel industry

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Author: Salo, Jari1,2; Tan, Teck Ming3; Makkonen, Hannu4
Organizations: 1Department of Economics and Management, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Faculty of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia
3Department of Marketing, Management and International Business, Oulu Business School, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4School of Marketing and Communication, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Emerald, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-01-19


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to cast light on the nature of the digitalization process that occurs when digital technologies are adopted in buyer–seller relationships.

Design/methodology/approach: The study features a case study from the steel processing industry.

Findings: The present research builds on and extends the interaction approach to the context of buyer–seller relationship digitalization process. The study explicates the interrelated elements of digital infrastructure, digital communication and degree of digitalization of the buyer–seller relationship.

Research limitations/implications: The study aims at theoretical generalization and thus produces conceptual understanding that is to some extent applicable to various contexts. The generalization of the empirical insights to other process-focused industries is to some extent possible. However, further research in versatile empirical contexts is needed to validate the results.

Practical implications: For managers, the study presents a success case of digital technologies use for improving a buyer–seller relationship.

Originality/value: The originality of the present research is in the way it depicts how a buyer–seller relationship is gradually digitalized in successive digital technology adoptions, that is, a virtuous cycle of digitalization, that creates and alters the digital infrastructure and digital communication processes between the buyer and the seller resulting in different outcomes (degrees of digitalization in the buyer–seller relationship).

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Series: Journal of business & industrial marketing
ISSN: 0885-8624
ISSN-E: 2052-1189
ISSN-L: 0885-8624
Volume: 36
Issue: 7
Pages: 1229 - 1245
DOI: 10.1108/JBIM-03-2020-0141
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 511 Economics
512 Business and management
Copyright information: © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited. The final authenticated version is available online at