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Investigating virtual enterprise models: literature review and empirical findings

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  • Esposito, Emilio
  • Evangelista, Pietro
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    Abstract

    Despite the increasing academic interest in the virtual enterprise (VE), there are still two main lacunae in our understanding: conceptualisation of VE models and empirical research investigating real VE cases. This paper seeks to address these two gaps. In relation to the first, the paper provides a systematic literature review, showing six shared issues in the VE research (which may be considered the common foundations of the theoretical concept of the VE) and five non-shared issues (which may be considered as a framework to identify different forms of VE). On the basis of shared and non-shared issues, two VE types are identified (the hierarchical and the holarchical). In the hierarchical VE, a leader company acts as a product integrator and is responsible for the final product/service. In the holarchical VE, partners act as a single business entity and the self-organisation approach is the main coordination mechanism. The second gap is addressed through a questionnaire survey to explore the virtualisation process in 18 Italian companies participating in a network of firms characterised by a set of temporary peer relationships oriented to specific projects in which collaborative relationships are continuously formed and dismantled. Comparing the literature and the empirical evidence, a hybrid VE model some way between the hierarchical and holarchical models is evident. The hybrid model shares the relationships among peers with the holarchical model, and the presence of a coordinating firm with the hierarchical model. Similarities and dissimilarities of the above models are discussed together and future research directions are noted.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925527313004441
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Journal of Production Economics.

    Volume (Year): 148 (2014)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 145-157

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:proeco:v:148:y:2014:i:c:p:145-157

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ijpe

    Related research

    Keywords: Virtual enterprise; Literature review; Questionnaire survey; Taxonomy of the virtual enterprise;

    References

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    1. Tuma, A., 1998. "Configuration and coordination of virtual production networks," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 641-648, September.
    2. Dowlatshahi, Shad & Cao, Qing, 2006. "The relationships among virtual enterprise, information technology, and business performance in agile manufacturing: An industry perspective," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 174(2), pages 835-860, October.
    3. Gunasekaran, Angappa & Lai, Kee-hung & Edwin Cheng, T.C., 2008. "Responsive supply chain: A competitive strategy in a networked economy," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 549-564, August.
    4. Mikhailov, L., 2002. "Fuzzy analytical approach to partnership selection in formation of virtual enterprises," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 393-401, October.
    5. Bottani, Eleonora, 2010. "Profile and enablers of agile companies: An empirical investigation," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(2), pages 251-261, June.
    6. Martinez, M. T. & Fouletier, P. & Park, K. H. & Favrel, J., 2001. "Virtual enterprise - organisation, evolution and control," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1-3), pages 225-238, December.
    7. Yoo, Sang Bong & Kim, Yeongho, 2002. "Web-based knowledge management for sharing product data in virtual enterprises," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1-2), pages 173-183, January.
    8. Corvello, Vincenzo & Migliarese, Piero, 2007. "Virtual forms for the organization of production: A comparative analysis," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(1-2), pages 5-15, October.
    9. Khalil, Omar & Wang, Shouhong, 2002. "Information technology enabled meta-management for virtual organizations," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1-2), pages 127-134, January.
    10. Manthou, Vicky & Vlachopoulou, Maro & Folinas, Dimitris, 2004. "Virtual e-Chain (VeC) model for supply chain collaboration," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3), pages 241-250, February.
    11. Mezgar, Istvan & Kovacs, Gyorgy L. & Paganelli, Paolo, 2000. "Co-operative production planning for small- and medium-sized enterprises," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1-3), pages 37-48, March.
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