Methodology

This study was exploratory in nature and was conducted in two stages; depth interviews (stage one) and case studies (stage two). During the depth interviews stage, interview protocol was developed and was structured into three sections that consisted of 20 questions, aimed at addressing the relevant issues and objectives. Interviewees for the depth interviews were selected based on their extensive experiences in the agribusiness industry (either in the private or in the public sector) as well as their extended knowledge and expertise (practical or theoretical) in the fields of e-business, e-commerce and strategic management.

Eight depth interviews with e-business experts and industrial professionals were undertaken to examine the appropriateness of those B2B e-business models and factors identified in the preliminary model whilst organisational size and industry sector were also explored as possible influencing factors to the choice of models. In addition, general issues associated with homogeneity within the agribusiness sector as well as potential frameworks were also investigated.

The second stage of this research used case studies to assist in confirming or disconfirming the preliminary model as several sources (Perry, 1998; Yin, 1994) confirm the appropriateness of a case study methodology when building theory as in this research. From the findings of the depth interviews, ten cases across two sectors, grain (five) and cotton (five) with large (five) and small medium (five) enterprise organisations that were either intending to conduct, or who were currently conducting B2B e-commerce were selected judgementally. Two interviews were conducted in each case with the managing director or equivalent and a middle level manager or operational personnel, to determine if there are any significant differences in their respective opinions (management and operations perspectives) on the selection of models. Furthermore, where possible, secondary sources such as the company's business plans, marketing plans and other relevant documentation were used to further triangulate the results.

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