Putting e-commerce adoption in a supply chain context

Elmer Baker, Jurong Zheng, Louise Knight, Christine Harland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

59 Citations (SciVal)


Purpose – The objective of this paper is to gain a better understanding of the impact of context on the adoption of e-commerce in supply chains.

Design/methodology/approach – A literature review, 45 semi-structured interviews in four different supply chains in the UK healthcare sector, involving 16 different organisations, and additional documentation is used in this study.

Findings – The adoption of e-commerce in supply chains is simultaneously affected by two contextual meta-variables: external pressure, which is influenced by supply chain structure, demand and industry characteristics; and internal readiness, which is influenced by IT, organisational and buying need characteristics. Different combinations of these two main variables lead to four different trade-off situations affecting adoption or non-adoption.

Research limitations/implications – The empirical research has been undertaken in the specific context of the UK healthcare supply chains. It would be useful to test our findings in other sectors and countries.

Practical implications – The paper helps to understand the contextual factors that affect e-commerce adoption and concludes with a framework that differentiates four situations that can improve managers' and researchers' understanding of e-commerce adoption in the future.

Originality/value – The contribution of this paper is the recognition that the adoption of e-commerce is affected by factors in both an organisational and a supply chain context, which simultaneously lead to trade-off decisions. Also, unlike most other studies which refer to supply chains and are limited to an organisational perspective or at most a dyadic perspective, this paper builds up a supply chain picture of context by including perspectives from multiple actors in a chain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-330
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Operations & Production Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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