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A slightly different position is taken by the OECD. In its most comprehensive e-commerce studies, the following definition is presented: "E-commerce refers to transactions between companies, private households and non-profit organisations (including government) via non proprietary networks that are established through an open standard setting process, and all activities needed to provide the necessary infrastructure to pursue these transactions." In addition, it is stated, that e-commerce refers to 'business occurring over networks which use non-proprietary protocols that are established through an open standard setting process such as the Internet'. The term business in the OECD's view means 'all activity that generates value' (OECD 1999, see also Colecchia et al. 2000). A similar concept can be found in the outline for a measurement strategy presented by the enter for Research in Electronic Commerce (Barua et al. 1999). Here, internet infrastructure, internet applications, an intermediate layer and a commerce layer are distinguished. In the context of this project, however, e-commerce is observed independently from the infrastructure in each country, although, infrastructure differences might be taken into account as explanatory variables for the stage of e-commerce and e-business adoption that has been reached in the units of research.

Regardless of the deviations from the e-commerce concept the OECD (and with it a wide range of the early e-commerce literature) have adopted, the e-business concept and its relation to the concept of e-commerce as formulated in the beginning of this chapter, seems to become increasingly accepted in research on electronic transactions and the impact of the internet on the organisation of interaction within and between companies (see, for example, Mesenbourg 2001). It is sufficiently close to the OECD position to guarantee a wide acceptance in countries that follow OECD standards.

The definition given above requires that in e-business and e-commerce transactions are conducted via non-proprietary networks. This distinction should be maintained in order to be able to investigate the specific consequences of using non-proprietary networks (e.g., changes in procurement and marketing techniques as well as new features of operation of the market mechanism, such as auctions etc.). The dramatic consequences of moving from proprietary to non-proprietary solutions would otherwise not be given due attention (see, for example, Cohen et al. 2001, Bar 2001). The distinction also allows us to use ICT (information and communication technology) as the term for the adoption of other than non-proprietary networks, for example, in the use of computer assisted design and manufacturing between different departments or within the same department of one firm.

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