Twenty years of electronic markets research - looking backwards towards the future
Alt Rainer, Klein Stefan
Over the past 20 years the field of electronicmarkets has seen a considerable proliferation and differentiation.This position paper takes the opportunity of the 21stvolume of "Electronic Markets" to look back at importantdevelopments and insights, suggesting a framework thatcaptures the multiple facets and indeed empirical breadthand depths of this concept. It comprises three perspectiveswhich include the market environment, governance choicesby economic actors as well as the entrepreneurialdynamics of firms who initiate and operate marketplatforms as their business. In addition, we propose tostudy the interplay of technological, market, and institutionaldrivers in order to understand the phenomenon ofelectronic markets, which is also a precondition fordesigning electronic markets. Both activities involvemore than an economically motivated choice betweenthe discrete alternatives of markets and hierarchies.Rather, electronic markets are configurations acrossmultiple, interdependent dimensions: Technology is animportant force in shaping the field, but needs to becomplemented by considerations of the competitiveenvironment and the setting of rules in order to ensureefficient and effective plays of the game. Based on thisframework, this position paper develops six propositionsfor the future of electronic markets. Overall, theadvantages of intermediated structures, an ongoingtechnological sophistication, as well as further innovationin market mechanisms and services make electronicmarkets an enabler for many inter-organizational valuechains. While we are confident that the ingenuity ofinventors will yield a flow of innovations, recenteconomic crises have shed a dark shadow over thesustainability of electronic markets. They call for suitablerules and regulation amenable to economic prosperityand stability to be agreed upon on a broad level.