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The Effects of Business-to-Business E-Commerce on Transaction Costs

  • Luis Garicano
  • Steven N. Kaplan

In this paper, we study the changes in transaction costs from the introduction of the Internet in transactions between firms (i.e., business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce). We begin with a conceptual framework to organize the changes in transaction costs that are likely to result when a transaction is transferred from a physical marketplace to an Internet-based one. Following Milgrom and Roberts (1992), we differentiate between the impact on coordination costs and motivation costs. We argue that it is likely that B2B e-commerce reduces coordination costs and increases efficiency. We classify these efficiencies into three broad categories (1) process improvements; (2) marketplace benefits; and (3) indirect improvements. At the same time, B2B e-commerce affects incentive costs. In particular, we discuss the impact of the introduction of e-commerce on informational asymmetries. We implement this framework by analyzing detailed internal data from one Internet-based firm to measure process improvements, marketplace benefits, and motivation costs. We present less detailed data and analyses for one other firm. Our results suggest that process improvements and marketplace benefits are potentially large. We find little evidence that informational asymmetries are more important in the electronic marketplace we study than the existing physical ones.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8017.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8017.

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Date of creation: Nov 2000
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Publication status: published as Garicano, Luis & Kaplan, Steven N, 2001. "The Effects of Business-to-Business E-Commerce on Transaction Costs," Journal of Industrial Economics, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 49(4), pages 463-85, December.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8017
Note: CF IO
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  1. Francine Lafontaine, 1992. "Agency Theory and Franchising: Some Empirical Results," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(2), pages 263-283, Summer.
  2. Erin Anderson, 1985. "The Salesperson as Outside Agent or Employee: A Transaction Cost Analysis," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 4(3), pages 234-254.
  3. Bond, Eric W, 1982. "A Direct Test of the "Lemons" Model: The Market for Used Pickup Trucks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 836-40, September.
  4. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
  5. Francine Lafontaine & Margaret E. Slade, 1998. "Incentive Contracting and the Franchise Decision," NBER Working Papers 6544, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Masten, Scott E & Crocker, Keith J, 1985. "Efficient Adaptation in Long-term Contracts: Take-or-Pay Provisions for Natural Gas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1083-93, December.
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