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Investigating virtual enterprise models: literature review and empirical findings

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  • Esposito, Emilio
  • Evangelista, Pietro

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Esposito, Emilio & Evangelista, Pietro, 2014. "Investigating virtual enterprise models: literature review and empirical findings," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 145-157.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:proeco:v:148:y:2014:i:c:p:145-157
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpe.2013.10.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gunasekaran, Angappa & Irani, Zahir & Choy, King-Lun & Filippi, Lionel & Papadopoulos, Thanos, 2015. "Performance measures and metrics in outsourcing decisions: A review for research and applications," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 153-166.
    2. Wang, Gang & Gunasekaran, Angappa & Ngai, Eric W.T. & Papadopoulos, Thanos, 2016. "Big data analytics in logistics and supply chain management: Certain investigations for research and applications," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 98-110.
    3. repec:exl:1trans:v:12:y:2017:i:2:p:31-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Cerchione, Roberto & Esposito, Emilio, 2016. "A systematic review of supply chain knowledge management research: State of the art and research opportunities," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 182(C), pages 276-292.

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