The Diffusion of E-commerce at the Firm Level: Theoretical Implications and Empirical Evidence.

Santarelli, Enrico ; D'Altri, Samuele (2001) The Diffusion of E-commerce at the Firm Level: Theoretical Implications and Empirical Evidence. Bologna: Dipartimento di Scienze economiche DSE, p. 14. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsacta/4870. In: Quaderni - Working Paper DSE (428). ISSN 2282-6483.
Full text available as:
License: Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

Download (54kB) | Preview


As a specific institution of distributive trades, e-commerce displays similarities with retail stores and mail ordercompanies. As well as providing theoretical support for the assumption that e-commerce is a way to sell certain goods and services at prices potentially lower than those of traditional distributive channels, this paper analyses its inter-firm diffusion among a sample of firms (mostly SMEs) in Italy. The paper has three main purposes. Firstly, it challenges the view of e-commerce as a “technological revolution”, by pointing out its nature as a costminimizing marketing channel. In particular, it shows how, under certain circumstances, e-commerce is a source of transaction cost advantages analogous to those yielded by mail order business. Secondly, the paper identifies the circumstances under which e-commerce sales might achieve a significant level of penetration among those SMEs that would otherwise incur high costs in organizing a proprietary distributive channel. Thirdly, the paper employs a unique data set of Italian manufacturing, service, and hospitality firms (nearly 90% of them with fewer than 100 employees) to estimate a diffusion model based on the logistic curve. According to the estimates, by the fourth quarter of 2003 nearly 50% of the population of firms in the geographical area surveyed will have introduced e-commerce among their marketing channels.

Document type
Monograph (Working Paper)
Santarelli, Enrico
D'Altri, Samuele
e-commerce; mail order; SMEs; technology diffusion
Deposit date
17 Mar 2016 12:05
Last modified
17 Mar 2016 12:05

Other metadata



Staff only: View the document