Purpose – The purpose of the present paper is to provide a comprehensive framework for analyzing relationships among economic actors interconnected through internet and constituting e-supply networks (e-SNs). Design/methodology/approach – At first the main factors characterizing e-SN pattern are identified (organizational structures, managerial criteria and critical activities), then two separate procedures are adopted for developing an integrated reference framework. The first based on the analysis of correlations among variables influencing the factors under investigation; the second based on the analysis of different types of physical and immaterial flows among actors involved in the e-SN. On the basis of such evidence an integrated global framework is proposed, which is then used to classify and describe some relevant literature-based case studies. Findings – On the basis of two newly introduced variables, namely the internal integration degree and the decision-making concentration degree, the framework identifies four sets of organizational structures, managerial criteria and critical activities, each one coherent with specific environmental contexts. Research limitations/implications – The framework is restricted to describing and classifying different typologies of e-SN. Practical implications – The framework may be useful for assessing if the typology of organizational structure, managerial criteria and critical activities adopted for the management of a specific e-SN, is coherent with e-SN business environment. It may also provide useful guidelines for managers and practitioners involved in e-SN design. Originality/value – The paper provides an original integrated framework to classify e-SNs.
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