Units of Research

In order to provide a definition of e-business which is appropriate for the purposes of the present project, it seems helpful to refer to the study focus of the project. Aiming at sector data, the relevant units of research are industries as well as companies. It is essential to keep this focus on well defined units of research in order not to blur and confuse the picture by moving arbitrarily along the value chain. The Figure provides an illustration of the sector/company location in the value chain (for a more detailed discussion on e-business applications along the value chain see, for example, Cohen et al. 2001, Verhoest et al. 1999, Wigand 1995).

Two types of units of research occur in the course of the project: industries and companies or firms. Some data is gathered at a company or establishment level and then aggregated into industry data. Some background information is gained from macro data that consider the economy as a whole (e.g., data on telecom infrastructures) These is used to interpret micro- and sector data.