Transformation of business collaboration in a digital age : Towards a multi-relation perspective

Abstract: The process of digitalisation is progressively transforming the way business is carried out and how enterprises collaborate. In this digital age, characterised by collaborations among a larger community of suppliers, customers, employees, and governments, all partners need to understand avariety of relations and how digitalisation transforms them. However, it is difficult to understand the multitude of unclear or even unknown relations generated by re-coordinating different types of relations in this digital age. Accordingly, this thesis contributes to the understanding of the transformation of business collaboration by exploring how collaboration can be understood in a digital age. The theoretical concepts involved collaboration, enterprise architecture, enterprise interoperability, and boundary object. These concepts enabled digging deeper into the complexity of sharing and aligning social and cultural worlds between communities of practice. The methodology employed was hermeneutics, which was suitable for understanding human activities. The study object concerned national development of data hubs for the electricity market in Denmark and Sweden, which replaced an old way of communicating point to point between companies. This was implemented in order to coordinate and manage data transactions between grid companies and electricity suppliers. The results indicated that digitalisation tends to increase the ability to manage collaboration and even closer relations among partners by clearly identifying every partner role and responsibility. Further, business collaboration appeared to transform from a traditional collaboration to a multi-relation collaboration that addressed digital age demands more comprehensively.