Featherstone, M 2007, 'The emergence of simple business models on the World Wide Web', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.
Copyright M Featherstone 2007
This research project began with the objective of obtaining a deeper understanding of the conduct of business on the Internet. Research regarding the overall performance of business on the Web has been limited due to several constraining factors. Firstly, the shear size, volume, and perceived complexity of business on the Web made it an imposing target for research. Secondly, the interdisciplinary nature of the field had an initial dampening effect on research activity. Kuhn (1962) describes this phenomenon as the insufficiency of methodological directives. He writes (p. 3) ‘Instructed to examine electrical or chemical phenomena, the man who is ignorant of these fields but who knows what it is to be scientific may legitimately reach any one of a number of incompatible conclusions. Among those legitimate possibilities, the particular conclusions he does arrive at are probably determined by his prior experience in the other fields’. Thirdly, academic interest in Web businesses was somewhat diminished by the bursting of the dot com bubble during 2000-2001 as evidenced by the fact that many academic programs in electronic commerce have been discontinued or significantly reduced (Featherstone, Ellis & Borstorff 2004). Lastly, methodological issues arose which limited the application of previously available sampling methods. The impact of this meant that drawing representative samples of websites in order to examine business behaviour became a more complex endeavour. As a result, many fundamental questions regarding business on the Web have remained unanswered. For example, there has been no clear answer to the question of what new business models, if any, are evolving within the Web environment. What is the role of entrepreneurship employing the Web? What are the key elements or mechanisms driving business expansion in the Web? Some have suggested that Web use necessitates greater business cooperation than may be necessary in the non-virtual world. Is there evidence that this is so? This thesis addresses these questions. It accomplishes this by reducing the function of business on the Internet to its simplest element, the domain name, and by employing innovative methodologies to explore the business environment of the Web. Using Complexity and Network Theories as a contextual framework , and based upon a review of existing literature, this thesis develops a series of propositions regarding both the conduct and attributes of Web business, and proceeds to present evidence of confirmation or refutation of these propositions.