Structuration Theory: Capturing the Complexity of Business-to-Business Intermediaries

Structuration Theory: Capturing the Complexity of Business-to-Business Intermediaries

Paul A. Pavlou (University of Southern California, USA) and Ann Majchrzak (University of Southern California, USA)
Copyright: © 2002 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-930708-09-9.ch009


This chapter argues that the three most commonly used perspectives in conducting research on business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce-transaction cost economics, electronic market hypothesis, and network analysis-have inadequately explained the unfolding nature of how B2B intermediaries are being employed in industry today. We argue that these perspectives are insufficient because they assume that technology is deterministic and thus not worthy of critical analysis. This chapter proposes structuration theory as an alternative perspective, which differs from the traditional perspectives in several ways: a) structuration theory examines the impact of B2B intermediaries not just on economic indicators of business success but on such process outcomes as mutual trust, coordination, innovation, and utilization of shared knowledge; b) it examines not just technology, but the alignment between technology, the interorganizational structure, and the nature of the task (e.g., basic procurement vs. collaboration); and c) it recognizes that no technology is simply installed, but rather brought into an organization through a series of adaptations that affect both the technology and the organization over time.

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