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A Model of B2B Exchanges


  • Gabor Fath

    (Hungarian Academy of Sciences)

  • Miklos Sarvary

    (Harvard Business School)


B2B exchanges are revolutionizing the way businesses will buy and sell a variety of intermediary products and services. It is estimated that most of the roughly $7 trillion worth of business transactions are likely to go through these new institutions within the next decade. This paper tries to understand the economics governing the transactions within B2B exchanges and analyze their likely evolution over time. In doing so, we start by providing the rigorous definitions to a number of critical concepts broadly used in the context of B2B exchanges including "market fragmentation", "critical mass" and buyer-seller "connectivity". We describe equilibrium behavior in the exchange and analyze it as a function of these critical concepts. Next, we study the evolution of the exchanges in a dynamic system where buyers and sellers enter (exit) the exchange based on the relative economic surplus (loss) they receive inside vs. outside the exchange. Our results have important implications for practice. For example, we show that equilibrium prices within the marketplace may not always decrease with lower search costs. However, buyer surplus rises with lower search costs even if prices are higher in the exchange. We also show that the general view that demand and supply (so-called "liquidity") either grows or shrinks in the marketplace may not always hold and it is quite possible to have a marketplace that is stable even though only a relatively small proportion of the market participants transact in it. Finally, we also provide conditions under which the exchange should subsidize buyers or seller in order to achieve critical mass.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabor Fath & Miklos Sarvary, 2001. "A Model of B2B Exchanges," Review of Marketing Science Working Papers 1-2-1012, Berkeley Electronic Press.
  • Handle: RePEc:bep:rmswpp:1-2-1012
    Note: oai:bepress:roms-1012

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1989. "Imperfect information in the product market," Handbook of Industrial Organization,in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 769-847 Elsevier.
    2. Steven C. Salop, 1979. "Monopolistic Competition with Outside Goods," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 141-156, Spring.
    3. David Lucking-Reiley & Daniel F. Spulber, 2001. "Business-to-Business Electronic Commerce," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 55-68, Winter.
    4. Sarkar, Mitrabarun & Butler, Brian & Steinfield, Charles, 1998. "Cybermediaries in Electronic Marketspace: Toward Theory Building," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 215-221, March.
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