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Innovative Tools for Business Coalitions in B2B Applications

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One of the most debated consequences regarding the increased availability and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), especially since the early 1990s, have been their impact on economic growth. Generally speaking, ICT can serve to reduce transaction costs at all levels of a commercial transaction. With the emergence and spread of the Internet in the developed world, it was expected that it would change the way that companies in developing countries—big and small— would transact, connecting them to international markets, reducing costs and improving competitiveness, propelling growth and development. There are various types of ICT-based applications, which can be grouped under the generic term ‘‘e-marketplace’’ including auctions, trade leads, e-retail and direct buyer/seller links. However, this generalization could imply that all applications support on-line buying and selling, and that transactions are actually completed on-line. Today, e-marketplaces have a significant role to play in business and continue to be a vibrant research topic and they are surely the most common e-business application within the manufacturing industry. At the same time globalization is pushing manufacturing companies toward a more distributed production approach. Indeed, corporate manufacturing firms are spreading their production all over the world in order to stay close to the customers, while medium manufacturing firms organize themselves in networks in order to scale their production to a global level. This tendency is putting a lot of stress on production planning. Indeed, the more distributed production facilities are, the more difficult and complex production planning becomes. An evolution of the consolidated use of this virtual interaction among customers and suppliers is the increasing of the e-marketplaces profitability by an integration of production planning, negotiation and coalition support tools. Production planning tools allow to create a link between commercialization and production activities, supplying a better service for customer, negotiation tools allow to make transactions taking into account both buyers and sellers’ goals and, finally, coalition represents the proposed course of action for small and medium suppliers not able to fully respond to the customer requests.

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