Introduction to the Special Section: Boundaries and Strategies in Electronic Commerce

Claudia Loebbecke and Rolf T. Wigand, Guest Editors
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 7, Number 4, Summer 2003, pp. 7.

Abstract: Organizational boundaries are increasingly stretched-they fade away, and previously clear delineations become blurred. Electronic commerce, depending on one’s perspective, is the enabler or the culprit of such developments. Similarly, and more and more frequently, we need to rethink the traditional strategies when introducing electronic commerce applications, for they affect markets, pricing, contracting, and risk assessment, as well as the underlying business model. The four papers selected and refereed for this Special Section deal with these important electronic commerce questions, addressing intranet boundaries and systems integration as well as market bundling strategies. Moreover, we present papers focusing on electronic contracting and on a security hole in the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) affecting electronic commerce applications and business models.

Roberta Lamb’s paper, “Intranet Boundaries as Guidelines for Systems Integration,” was recognized as the overall best paper given at the 2002 Bled Electronic Commerce Conference. The author examines systems integration, specifically intranet integration, through external and internal approaches. Both approaches present problems, and she offers four vignettes of intranet integration highlighting the value of a project-based approach to integration. The work is theoretically grounded and produces three approaches to integration. It concludes with practical implications and guidelines.

Sandra Sieber and Josep Valor Sabatier, in “Market Bundling Strategies in the Horizontal Portal Industry,” analyze the information-distribution value chain, showing how horizontal portals, the most visited sites on the Web, show overall low profitability. They argue that although the industry has a great potential for value creation, value appropriation remains problematic and may be achieved only with cross-market bundling, selling products packaged with Internet access and proprietary content through system competition.

Yao-Hua Tan and Walter Thoen argue in “Electronic Contract Drafting Based on Risk and Trust Assessment” that a more structured, model-driven, approach to e-contracting is needed. Specifically, the authors focus on developing a risk/trust assessment model and offer rules applied to this model such that the contracting parties may amend the contract via control mechanisms to achieve more suitable risk and trust assessment.

Last, in “The Security Hole in WAP: An Analysis of the Network and Business Rationales Underlying a Failure,” Niels Christian Juul and Niels Jørgensen describe how the underlying business model of the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is threatened by a security flaw, making it unsuitable for e-commerce transactions. The analysis suggests, based on early WAP versions, that there were no solutions to the security problems from either a business or a technical perspective. The authors do not believe that this security weakness was the major reason for WAP’s lack of success. Even if all other problems had been solved, however, the failure of WAP’s security model was so important that it might still have prevented the success of the protocol suite.

The four papers comprising this Special Section were selected through the review process from the 2002 Bled Electronic Commerce Conference. The Conference received a total submission of 136 papers. Two reviewers as well as the conference’s research chair and co-chair reviewed each paper blindly. Fifty-one papers were accepted for presentation. The four papers included here were selected from these as top contributions and went through two rounds of journal-level reviews after the Bled Conference reviews and revisions.

CLAUDIA LOEBBECKE ( is a chaired professor of media management at the University of Cologne. Previously, she held the KRAK Chair of Electronic Commerce at the Copenhagen Business School. She also worked at INSEAD, McKinsey & Co., the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), the University of New South Wales, and Erasmus University. Recently, she has held visiting positions at INSEAD and MIT (CISR). Her continued research focuses on media management, electronic business, new organizational forms, and knowledge management.

ROLF T. WIGAND ( is the Maulden-Entergy chair and Distinguished Professor of Information Science and Management at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. Dr. Wigand has taught on the faculty of Syracuse University, the Stuttgart Institute of Management and Technology, Arizona State University, Michigan State University, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, and the University of Munich. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Volkswagen Foundation, the International Social Science Council, Rome Laboratory, and other funding agencies. Dr. Wigand researches and consults in electronic commerce, information management, and the strategic deployment of information and communication technology. His research interests lie at the intersection of information and communication business issues, the role of newer information technologies, and their strategic alignment within business and industry.