Introduction

E-business continues to be of growing importance with many organisations increasingly conducting their business activities in the electronic environment (Goodridge, 2000; Kalakota and Robinson, 1999; Cunningham and Froschl, 1999). The use of technology has played a major role in many strategic initiatives (such as reengineering and cost-cutting) where attempts have been made to capitalise the benefits of e-business to strengthen customer and supplier relationships, and establish new markets (Hackbarth and Kettinger, 2000).

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Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing 20/4/5 (2005) 218 -225

e Emerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 0885-8624] [DOI 10.1108/08858620510603891]

E-business has played a significant role in the business-to-business segment where it has grown significantly (NOIE, 2000) and is expected to reach US$8.5 trillion worldwide by the year 2005 (Gartner Group, 2001). This trend requires existing business models to be rethought to reflect the transformation required by organisations to take advantage of this environment (Barnes and Hunt, 2001). Furthermore, organisations are faced with a wide range of e-business models, with many factors influencing their ultimate choice. The increasing adoption of e-business by organisations both worldwide and in Australia and the resulting lack of empirical research to assist organisations in making these choices have resulted in the need to develop a framework to assist organisations in selecting appropriate B2B e-business models. This phenomenon is particularly evident in the Australian agribusiness industry (NOIE, 2001).

Agribusiness organisations worldwide have capitalised on the many advantages of e-business to improve the marketing of their products (Allen Consulting Group, 2000). In Australia, the agribusiness industry is regarded as a major contributor to the economy and this is particularly evident in Queensland, where it accounts for one-third of exports and employs over 80,000 people (Queensland Government, Department of State Development, n.d.). Although this

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing 20/4/5 (2005) 218 -225

e Emerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 0885-8624] [DOI 10.1108/08858620510603891]

Eric Ng industry consists of a large number of small enterprises, many are supportive of the adoption of e-commerce techniques (The Australian Electronic Business Network, 1998). In addition, the high reliance on accurate and timely information (such as weather and stock information) and large physical distances between producers and customers in this industry, have made this sector conducive to the benefits of e-business (Allen Consulting Group, 2000). This exploratory research will address the question "What factors influence the choice of B2B e-business models used by Australian agribusiness organisations?" and develop a preliminary framework for Australian agribusiness organisations seeking to select B2B e-business models.

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