A competitive strategy framework for E-business start-ups

Ungerer, Gerard David (2015-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The strategic tools and insights that e-business start-ups require to better formulate their competitive strategies are obscured by the staggering amounts of strategy literature that is available. Yet at the same time, given the relative recency of the Internet, research in the e-domain is still in its infancy. An opportunity for strategic sense-making and integration was therefore identified to make these tools and insights more accessible, while simultaneously deepening the understanding of e-business. The objective of this study was to develop a conceptualisation that could assist e-business start-up competitive strategy formulation. Competitive strategy in this context refers to how a business intends to compete in the market and how it intends to defend its chosen competitive position. In conducting the research, a constructivist philosophical perspective and a practice-oriented approach was embraced, which required the developed conceptualisation to present a more informed and sophisticated perspective than previously existed, while also providing practical utility in the real world. A basic systems engineering process was followed for this exploratory theory building study. This involved creating a set of requirements that needed to be met by the conceptualisation, designing the conceptualisation and its sub-models, and verifying and validating that the conceptualisation met the requirements. The research endeavour investigated four main domains of interest, namely e-business, business models, blue ocean strategy and red ocean strategy. Four sub-domains were also investigated, namely fundamentals of e-business strategy, business model innovation, e-value creation and e-customer retention. Together these domains produced 46 content requirements that needed to be addressed in addition to the 17 research question requirements and 18 theoretical model building requirements. The output of the study was a competitive strategy framework that exists on three levels of complexity. It consists of five primary elements (customer need exploration, value proposition, customer lock-in, strategic assessment, renewal and growth), nine sub-elements, 18 sub-models, various relationships and a flexible sequence. The validation process (local, international and via workshops) confirmed that the developed competitive strategy framework has achieved its goal and is capable of assisting e-business start-up competitive strategy learning, formulation and analysis, resulting in enhanced cognition. In addition, e-business practitioners regarded the framework as a better methodology for formulating competitive strategies than their previous approaches. This study scratches at the surface of all the aspects and complexities related to competing in the e-domain. The competitive strategy framework for e-business start-ups, however, is an important stepping stone towards developing a better understanding of the e-environment itself, how to formulate business strategies for this environment and how to successfully compete within it.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die strategiese modelle en insigte wat e-besighede benodig om beter kompeterendestrategieë te formuleer word verbloem deur die verbysterende hoeveelheid strategieliteratuur wat beskikbaar is. Maar terselfdertyd, gegewe die relatiewe nuutheid van die Internet, is navorsing in die e-ruimte steeds in sy kinderskoene. Die geleentheid vir strategiese integrasie is daarom geïdentifiseer om relevante strategiese modelle en insigte meer toeganklik te maak, en terselfdertyd die begrip van e-besigheid te verdiep. Die doel van hierdie studie was om ‘n konseptualisering te skep wat kompeterendestrategieformulering in e-besighede kan ondersteun. Die kompeterendestrategie van ‘n besigheid verwys na hoe daardie besigheid beplan om in die mark te kompeteer en sy gekose markposisie te verdedig. ’n Konstruktivistiese filosofiese perspektief en ‘n prakties-georiënteerde benadering is gebruik vir die uitvoer van die navorsing. Dit het genoodsaak dat die ontwikkelde konseptualisering ’n meer ingeligte en gesofistikeerde perspektief voorstel as wat voorheen bestaan het, en terselfdertyd praktiese nut bied. ’n Basiese stelselsingenieursweseproses is vir hierdie verkennende teorieboustudie gevolg. Eerstens moes ’n lys van vereistes geskep word waaraan die konseptualisering moes voldoen. Daarna moes die konseptualisering en die sub-modelle ontwerp word, en die konseptualisering geverifieer en geldig verklaar word. Die navorsing het vier primêre velde ondersoek, naamlik e-besigheid, besigheidsmodelle, blou-oseaan-strategie en rooi-oseaan-strategie. Vier sub-velde is ook ondersoek, naamlik die grondbeginsels van e-besigheidstrategie, besigheidsmodelinnovasie, e-waardeskepping en e-kliëntebehoud. Hierdie velde het 46 inhoudsvereistes opgelewer waaraan voldoen moes word, tesame met die 17 navorsingsvraagvereistes en 18 teoretiesemodelbouvereistes. Die uitset van die studie was ’n kompeterendestrategieraamwerk wat op drie vlakke van kompleksiteit bestaan. Dit omvat vyf primêre elemente (kliëntebehoefteverkenning, waardestelling, kliëntebehoud, strategiese assessering, vernuwing en groei), nege sub-elemente, 18 sub-modelle, verskillende verhoudings en ’n buigsame volgorde. Die geldigheidsverklaringsproses (plaaslik, internasionaal en via werkswinkels) het bevestig dat die kompeterendestrategieraamwerk wel sy doel dien en in staat is om die aanleer, formulering, en ontleding van kompeterendestrategie in e-besigheid te ondersteun. E-besighede het ook die raamwerk beskou as ’n beter benardering tot kompeterede strategieformulering as wat hulle voorheen gebruik het. Hierdie studie raak slegs aan die oppervlak van al die aspekte en kompleksiteite wat gepaard gaan met e-besigheidkompetisie. Nogtans vorm die kompeterendestrategieraamwerk ’n belangrike bousteen vir die oorhoofsedoel om ’n beter begrip te kry van die e-omgewing, asook hoe om strategieë vir die e-omgewing te formuleer en daarin te kompeteer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97930
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