Industries / Industrial Sectors
The second type of research units consist of industries or industrial sectors. Here aggregated information at the industry level is used to document the diffusion of activities within the industries as well as the overall importance of the observed phenomena for changes in the economy as a whole. The definition of industries follows NACE Rev.1 classifications. Since this classification is relatively new in terms of its implementation in national statistics, it will not always be possible to follow this strict delimitation. Internet related statistics that are not provided by official statistical offices, often use different product and service categories. As far as possible, these will be related to the NACE classifications. (The sector perspective is typical for studies conducted for the OECD and the US Department of Commerce, see OECD 1999, Margherio et al. 1998).
Industries or firms in the samples may be suppliers to manufacturing or service companies that are units of research in the same sample. For example, the sample may comprise a business service firm providing services for a textile manufacturing firm and the textile manufacturing firm itself. Although, this would be a rare coincidence at the firm level, it is relevant at the sector level. In this case, we not follow the bilateral links between the two units of research, but study both companies / industries as individual units and analyse the connection between them in the context of all e-business transactions observed in the particular unit of research (see also Preissl 2001). (The relationship between the two units might become relevant in terms of bilateral interaction, however, in the selection of case study material).
Figure: E-business along the value chain
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Networks, clusters or other structures that emerge from electronically networked entities, may play an increasingly important role in electronically supported business environments (see Shapiro/Varian 1999 and Bouwman/Nouwens 1999, Rockart /Scott Morton 1993). However, primary data collection and data analysis will not use networks as a unit of research. These concepts are not sufficiently developed to use them in the generation of statistically relevant data. This does not prevent us from identifying networking activities in the units of research defined above and from studying the specific nature and rationale of network generation in the units of research that are monitored. Further contributions to network analysis are to be expected from case studies.