Sarkar, Butler & Steinfield (1995) "Intermediaries and Cybermediaries" Revisited: A Review and Identification of Future Research Directions for Intermediaries in Electronic Markets

Rensmann Benjamin, Klein Stefan

Intermediation in markets is a phenomenon that has been studied by many researchersfrom a variety of different theoretical angles. With the introduction and diffusion of theInternet in everyday life, broad predictions were made that called for disintermediationenabled by direct Internet linkages between suppliers and buyers and lower transactioncosts. The often-cited paper by Sarkar, Butler and Steinfield (1995) challenges thisprediction. By comparing Internet effects on transaction costs with the cost situation exante, the paper explains that both direct sales or cybermediated sales are possibleoutcomes. In this paper we confront key assumptions of the Sarkar et al. paper withrecent developments in the tourism market. We find that in the tourism market amultitude of direct and indirect distribution channels exist next to each other. Multileveldistribution channels often including several cybermediaries have been built,resulting in a complex market topology. We also see a large variety of intermediaryroles, resulting from highly specialized and highly integrated cybermediary businessmodels. Furthermore the model of Sarkar et al. fails to deliver an explanation for theon-going dynamics in the tourism market in terms of shifts towards more or lessintermediaries and the emergence of new intermediary-like business models. By takingthese trends into account we are able to identify relevant future research directions inorder to extend our understanding of the phenomenon of electronic intermediaries in markets.

Cybermediaries; Intermediation; Electronic Intermediaries; Electronic; Markets; Disintermediation Hypothesis; Tourism Industry

Publication type
Research article in proceedings (conference)

Peer reviewed

Publication status


24th Bled eConference


Book title
The 24th Bled eConference "eFuture: Creating Solutions for the Individual, Organisations and Society" (June 12-15 2011)

Bled, Slovenia