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Transformations in the nature of commerce and work will be addressed by examining three specific areas in the various organizations studied.

Changes in Business Models

The success stories of electronic commerce are using not only new technologies, but are using new technologies to enable new businesses models. A business model is a description of the activities a company performs to generate revenue or other benefits and the relationships, information and product flows the company has with its customers, suppliers and complementors. This area of research will develop frameworks for analyzing and classifying business models, then use the frameworks to empirically classify the business models of substantial numbers of companies. Finally, the researchers will use the empirical data to formulate and test hypotheses about the distribution, performance and evolution of different business models.

Changes in Organizational Design, Structure and Performance

The initial efforts of this area will go towards carefully defining a set of questions that are both interesting and researchable. Among such questions are:

  • Organizational Capital: Do heavy IT users differ in organizational structure, processed and other critical factors?
  • Traditional Performance Metrics: Do heavy IT users differ in their labor productivity, profitability, sales growth and stock market valuation?
  • Nontraditional Performance Measures: Can IT be linked to other metrics such as customer and employee satisfaction, consumer surplus, diversity and product innovation?
  • Task Productivity vs. Organizational Performance: Is it possible to link IT improvements in certain tasks to overall firm productivity and profitability?
  • Links across levels of Analysis: How to generalize the insights from case studies to broader samples of firms?
  • Digital Divide: How has IT affected the demand for skilled labor, income inequality and related social indicators?
  • Synergies: Can we explain why some companies decide to pursue their Internet strategies by spinning off new organizational entities and others choose to have their eCommerce efforts operate in-house in less autonomous entities?
  • Information Indicators: Can we develop a set of 'organizational indicators' that chart the diffusion of information-based practices?

Changes in Organizational Practices

As organizations increase their operations on the Internet, they will also experiment with different ways of working. Telecommuting, virtual work, virtual teams of geographically-dispersed members, electronic collaboration are all examples of important new ways to organize work. This area of research will focus on the practices enabled through the use of information technology in three domains - work, communication and time.

  1. Work Practices
    • What new ways of working are evident in the context of Internet-based business?
    • How do theses new ways of working emerge?
    • What are the implications of these changes for participants, the nature of their roles and the quality of their relationships?
    • What are the implications of these changes for knowledge and skill requirements, control mechanisms, and issues of trust and identity?
  2. Communication Practices
    • As teams become increasingly dispersed what genre repertoires and genre systems do they use?
    • How do these genre repertoires and genre systems develop over time?
    • How do genres of communication emerge in communities within and across firms?
    • Do the communication practices of these communities support a diversity of interests and participants, or do they encourage narrowing and specialization?
  3. Temporal Practices
    • Do new temporal structures emerge to pace Internet-based activities? And to what extent are these structures used?
    • To what extent do old and new temporal structures coexist?
    • Does this coexistence cause conflicts and how is this experienced in the everyday lives of workers?
    • What are the consequences of these conflicts?


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