IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Investigating virtual enterprise models: literature review and empirical findings

Listed author(s):
  • Esposito, Emilio
  • Evangelista, Pietro
Registered author(s):

    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.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

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

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

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:proeco:v:148:y:2014:i:c:p:145-157
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpe.2013.10.003
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Mikhailov, L., 2002. "Fuzzy analytical approach to partnership selection in formation of virtual enterprises," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 393-401, October.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Tuma, A., 1998. "Configuration and coordination of virtual production networks," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 641-648, September.
    11. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:proeco:v:148:y:2014:i:c:p:145-157. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.