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Chapter 2
Research Methodology
2.1 Introduction
This Chapter summarises the individual research projects which make up the entire research programme,
discusses and analyses the hypotheses generated and tested during the research programme, justifies the
methods selected and analyses the contribution of the Thesis as a whole.
In the main body of this Thesis (Chapters 1 and 3-9) I have presented material logically rather than in
strict order of occurrence. For example, Chapter 3 (which stands in place of a conventional literature
survey) provides a definitive placement of Electronic Data Interchange within the continuum of
knowledge of strategic, inter-organisational Information Systems. Although Chapter 3 appears at the
beginning of the Thesis and its kernel is a literature survey conducted prior to the commencement of the
research project proper, the material presented has been restructured, refocussed and enriched throughout
the course of the project and, indeed, incorporates results reported elsewhere within this Thesis.
I chose to present my results in this way since, at the start of the project, very little research had been
conducted into EDI. This project has been instrumental in providing a foundation for the academic study
of EDI - and it is only as the work neared conclusion that it has been possible to present the material in a
logical and self-consistent form. I considered it unacceptable for any reader to have to follow the iteration
and back-tracking which characterised the development of this new academic sub-field and I have
therefore presented the results on the basis of the finished product, rather than on the underlying
development process. In this Chapter, however, I shall describe the work as a research project, describing
sub-projects undertaken, the rationale for their temporal ordering and a justification of the methods
employed in each case.
2.2 The Structure of the Research Project
Figure 2.1 shows that this Thesis may be considered as comprising three parts:
Theoretical Analysis which is primarily concerned with "Theory Building" and which forms a common
foundation for the remainder of the project, together with two essentially independent "Theory
Testing" research projects which, in a somewhat recursive manner, contribute to their own
foundation;
Quantitative Research which examines the inter-organisational aspects of the topic and is concerned to
identify the state of EDI in practice within Australia - both in isolation and in comparison with
other countries. An important implication of this research is the provision of some level of
confidence that the results of Australian research into EDI may, by extrapolation, be considered
globally applicable;
Qualitative Research which is concerned with intra-organisational aspects of EDI and which aims to
identify causal, rather than merely correlatory, relationships between phenomena.
2.2.1 Theoretical Analysis
I conducted a formal literature search in 1988, prior to the commencement of the project itself, but found
very little academic literature relating directly to EDI (and only limited commercial material on the topic).
It was clear from this study that EDI was at that time being seen as an isolated phenomenon - that is, there
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Inter-Org'l
Systems
Strategic
Systems
I.S.
Planning
Australian
Case
Studies
Technology
vs.
Organisation
Qualitative
Intra-Organisational
Causal
Inter-Organisational
Correlatory
EDI
in
Context
Cross-
Cultural
Comparisons
EDI
History
EDI
Development
in
Australia
Quantitative
Data Gathering
EDI in
Australia
1992
Australia
EDI in
1989
BHP
Steel
ETP
Hypothesis
Testing
Analytic/
Extrapolation
Theory Building
Analytic
Figure 2.1 - Methodological Inter-relationships
were no perceived connections to the main body of Information Systems research. This finding suggested
that placing EDI within the Information Systems continuum would provide an original contribution to
knowledge - and the contextual analysis was therefore defined as a sub-project within this Thesis.
Key ! Solid ellipses represent bodies of literature
! Solid rectangles represent sub-projects
A -------> B A contributes to B
A <-----> B A and B are inter-related
During the conduct of the contextual analysis sub-project (and, in part, stimulated by results from the
initial survey conducted in 1989 - discussed below) it became apparent that organisations were assigning
the responsibility for driving EDI implementation to technical Information Systems Departments. This
behaviour seemed to indicate that EDI was being considered as a technical problem to be solved in a
technical manner. My on-going contextual analysis, however, was beginning to suggest that EDI should
be considered as an enabling infrastructure for business process redesign (business re-engineering).
I therefore defined a sub-project which would make a detailed theoretical study of the general problem of
implementing EDI within individual organisations. In particular, the study would address the distinction
between the technical and organisational aspects of EDI and would clarify the nature of these issues. One
product of this study would be the generation of formal hypotheses, to be tested by means of case study
research:

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I later decided to include preliminary results from a comparison of Australia's experience with that of
Slovenia (a decision justified in Chapter 6), which suggests that the Australian experience is likely to be
typical of that of any country without substantial political influence.
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The Integration Hypothesis:
That there is a series of comparatively standard and recurring stages in
the integration of EDI into internal application systems.
The Business Process Redesign Hypothesis:
That the taking of a top-down, strategic view of EDI provides an effective
platform for Business Process Redesign.
2.2.2 Quantitative Research
The initial literature study suggested that the United States and the United Kingdom were the leaders in
the implementation of EDI within industry. EDI was, however, in its early stages of applications within
Australia - but no studies had been conducted to ascertain the precise state of EDI within Australia, nor
the relationship of the Australian experience to that of the leading countries in the field.
This issue can be represented formally as:
The State of EDI Hypothesis:
That Australian EDI development is following the same patterns of growth
as those seen in the United States and United Kingdom, but is at an earlier
stage of maturity.
Three studies were therefore defined as sub-projects:
! a quantitative survey of EDI use within Australia as at July/August 1989
! a quantitative survey of EDI use within Australia as at August/September 1992
! an analysis of the Australian experience vis-a-vis that of the United States and United Kingdom -
both as at the dates of the surveys specifically and in terms of relative development over time
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.
2.2.3 Qualitative Research
The Integration and Business Process Redesign hypotheses were tested by means of case studies:
! the first sub-project (a set of case studies) tested the Integration hypothesis represented as a three-
stage model of EDI integration. The results confirmed that model in principle and, indeed,
suggested a useful extension which has resulted in a four-stage model (since published)
! a further sub-project (also conducted using multiple case study research) provided preliminary
validation of the Business Process Redesign hypothesis, which was further validated by:
! a third sub-project undertaken by means of a single, in-depth, exemplar case study. The subject
of this study was Australia's principal EDI-using organisation - BHP Steel.
2.3 Justifying the Research Design
2.3.1 Research in a Domain-Theoretic Vacuum
Throughout this research project, a diverse and growing body of Information Systems literature has
existed. Electronic Data Interchange, by contrast, was in 1988 the subject of very limited literature. More
significantly, although EDI can be seen to fall within the Information Systems domain, there existed no
explicit link between EDI and the broader I.S. continuum. This was clearly an inadequate foundation for
a sound academic study of EDI - it was essential to develop a coherent and consistent theoretic model of
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the I.S. domain which includes EDI. The potential sources for the development of such a theoretic model
were:
! the Information Systems literature, in particular that concerned with:
• strategic I.S. and ideas of competitive and comparative advantage
• inter- and intra-organisational I.S.
• I.S. integration
• competitive versus cooperative systems
! the EDI-specific literature
! research being conducted and reported within this Thesis
! other research being conducted contemporaneously with this project into EDI and related areas.
Perhaps the most significant input to this process, however, was the simple insight that EDI was an
example of a cooperative, inter-organisational system and that the existing I.S. literature must already
contain results which, interpreted within an appropriate intellectual framework, would be applicable
directly to EDI.
This insight led directly to the problem of how to approach research in a domain theoretic vacuum.
Bonoma, in advocating qualitative research approaches says:
"when methods [high in data integrity] are used to investigate research topics about
which theoretical development is scant or uncertain, research often is inefficient or
misleading. Either the power of deductive methods is under-utilised, or theory and/or
method are prematurely pressed into service when their underlying assumptions cannot
be met" (Bonoma, 1985:201).
Terpstra (1981), discussing research into psychological phenomena, had already suggested that there
might well be a negative correlation between the rigour of any research methodology selected (his criteria
include the presence of a probability sample, an adequate sample size for analysis, the use of a control
group, random selection for treatment, pre- and post-testing and the use of significance levels for
assessing the effects of treatment) and the outcomes of research into organisational development
evaluation.
In the context of specifically I.S.-related research, Fitzgerald et al (1985) make the point that:

"the concern with information systems and the relationship to organisations and society
is not the same as the study of information systems or computing as purely technical
phenomena. The relationships of concern are closely related to human activities and
involve the study of experiences, attitudes, values, effects and responses, as well as
more traditionally technical aspects. This being the case, it would seem to lead to the
rejection of a purely scientific approach to the investigation of these relationships"
(Fitzgerald et al, 1985:4).
While these authors are justifying the use of a research method which they feel is particularly appropriate
for such "woolly" problems, I suggest that it is possible to extrapolate from their position more generally -
and assert that any form of structured investigation, whether qualitative or quantitative, must be preceded
by the development of (outline) theoretic structures. I further suggest that in the earliest stages of theory
development, Theory Testing (which creates the need for structure) must be subordinated - that in order to
develop a coherent and consistent theoretic model of a problem domain it is necessary initially to take an
unstructured, qualitative approach, utilising a subjective/argumentative method.
Galliers provides support for the use of this approach in his revised taxonomy of Information Systems
research methods, saying:
"[Subjective/argumentative research] is included because, in the right hands, this kind of
creative process makes a valuable contribution to the building of theories which can
subsequently be tested by more formal means. Its strengths lie in the creation of new
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ideas and insights. Its weaknesses arise from the unstructured, subjective nature of the
process" (Galliers, 1992:157).
This argument should not be seen as remarkable - in any research project, one would expect to have to
place the topic in its appropriate context. What makes this particular instance unusual is the development
of a new paradigm for EDI. There is an interesting parallel between:
! the popular belief of the academic community in EDI as a unique business phenomenon and thus
an inappropriate topic for academic research - despite EDI's (now) clear place in the continuum
of traditional I.S. literature;
! the popular belief of the business community in EDI as a unique technical phenomenon and thus
an inappropriate topic for management intervention - despite EDI's (now) clear potential as an
enabler of business process redesign.
2.3.2 Investigating the State of EDI in Practice
Electronic Data Interchange is an industry (as opposed to academic) led field. In 1986, when academe
had barely heard of the topic, some organisations in the U.S. had been "doing EDI" since the late 1960's -
and even in Australia the first scheme had been underway since 1986.
There was clearly an immediate opportunity for one piece of quantitative research in this domain -
research designed to identify the numbers and characteristics of EDI schemes and participant
organisations.
"Sample survey ... has now come to be recognized as an organized instrument of fact
finding. Its importance to modern civilization lies in the fact that it can be used to
summarize, for the guidance of administration, facts which would otherwise be
inaccessible owing to the remoteness or obscurity of the units involved or their
numerousness. As a fact finding agency, a sample survey is concerned with the
accurate ascertainment of facts recorded and with their compilation and
summarization" (Raj, 1972:xv).
Since the population of interest was the entire Australian EDI marketplace, a survey appeared to be the
most appropriate method of collecting preliminary data for the research project. At the time the project
was first proposed, only one survey (of EDI intentions) had been undertaken within Australia by RMIT's
Centre for Technology, Policy and Management - its results (discussed in Section 5.3) indicated that there
was considerable interest in EDI amongst Australian organisations, but provided little hard data.
The results of the survey of Australian EDI users which I conducted in July/ August 1989 provided
general information on organisation types and assisted in pin-pointing the appropriate group from which
to draw subjects for later, in-depth study (see Section 2.3.3 below).
This result is in agreement with Galliers' (1992) view that surveys can provide a reasonably accurate
description of events in the real world, but do not offer profound insights into the causes/processes which
lie behind the phenomena under study. In addition Vitalari, reviewing the major literature available in
the mid-1980's on I.S. research methods, notes the limitations of surveys and case studies, all of which:
"are extremely limited in their ability to study change without a longitudinal research frame or cross-
sectional design ... Many would agree that the relationship between computer technology and social
change is fundamental to most research issues confronting the I.S. researcher today" (Vitalari,
1985:246/7).
These valid criticisms of the "pure" survey methodology added weight to my decision to make use of both
longitudinal and cross-sectional approaches to the collection of data on Australian EDI.
2.3.2.1 Research Strategy Considerations
I sub-divided the quantitative section of the research programme into three component parts:

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The EDI Council of Australia (EDICA) forms a "user group" for organisations involved in EDI
within Australia, providing training in the technical aspects of standards implementation and a forum for
EDI users to discuss common problems. EDICA is also responsible for the creation of a number of
industry sector groups which are working to devise document "sub-sets" appropriate to the needs of their
particular sector which will also enable cross-sectoral document exchange.
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! the initial, "snap-shot" analysis of Australian EDI as at July/August 1989
! a second "snap-shot" analysis of the same survey group three years later, to:
• provide a measure of longitudinal comparison with the initial survey; and
• enable an analysis of the rate of growth and development of my survey group during the
interval
! an analysis of other Australian surveys, together with a limited number of overseas surveys,
undertaken contemporaneously with my own two surveys to provide a (limited) cross-sectional
comparison.
The use of the longitudinal comparison enabled "the exploration of time-dependent phenomena such as
learning, adaptation and evolution within the research setting" (Vitalari, 1985:243) and the cross-cultural
comparison provided an opportunity for me to see whether Australia's experience could be considered
"typical" of EDI-adopting countries.
Because of the wide geographic spread of EDI scheme participants, I decided to undertake mail surveys
for the data collection. Questionnaires were mailed to all members of the EDI Council of Australia during
July 1989 and August 1992 (samples of these questionnaires are included in Appendix C). On the first
occasion, one follow-up letter was sent out to respondents to encourage those who had not yet replied; and
in each case responses were analysed over the next three months. The results of these surveys are reported
in Chapters 5 and 6.
The cross-cultural comparisons were undertaken by analysis of published surveys. Wherever possible, I
also discussed these results with the authors of the surveys to obtain further insights into the purposes and
expectations of the questionnaire designers.
My own two surveys were analysed using statistical techniques (and with the extremely valuable
assistance of A/Prof Jim Everett of the University of Western Australia). The cross-cultural comparisons,
however, could not be analysed in this manner since the samples were entirely dissimilar, as were the
phenomena under investigation and the types of questions utilised. The analysis of these surveys is
therefore of a qualitative nature - and should thus be considered indicative only.
2.3.2.2 Choice of Research Sample
Benbasat, Goldstein and Mead suggest that "prior to searching for sites, the researcher should determine
the unit of analysis most appropriate for the project ... the unit of analysis may be a specific project or
decision" (Benbasat et al, 1987:372). This research was focused upon the concept of a participant/scheme
(P/S) - a method of expressing the concept:
! that an organisation could be a participant in more than one single EDI scheme and
! that there could be more than one participating organisation for a single EDI scheme.
The preferred primary group of participants was thus those Australian organisations currently involved in
either an existing EDI scheme or an EDI pilot. Establishing just which organisations belonged to this
group proved extremely difficult and it was decided to compromise by sending questionnaires to the
members of the EDI Council of Australia (an organisation which could be described as the "Australian
EDI Users' Group")
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. This produced a biased sample, since active EDI participants usually choose to join
EDICA, so that the sample group is representative of enthusiastic EDI users, rather than of Australian
industry in general. This sample did, however, provide the major benefit of a high response rate.

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"Hub" organisations are those which form the centre of an EDI scheme, linking many suppliers or
customers to themselves. The analogy is drawn from the image of a wheel - the hub controlling the
"spokes".
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The surveys were directly concerned with ascertaining those organisations currently involved in an EDI
project; their organisational characteristics; the stage of the EDI system life-cycle at which they had joined
the scheme (full-scale implementation, partial implementation, or pilot study); and whether they were
"hub" organisations
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, major or minor participants.
Longitudinal comparisons were directed towards ascertaining what changes (if any) had occurred in both
the sample group itself and in the individual phenomena under investigation. I then analysed the changes
further for cross-tabular influences and considered their predictive power.
The cross-cultural comparisons were intended to provide contrasts - both between my own investigations
of the Australian EDI marketplace and those of other researchers and between the Australian experience
and that of three other countries. In the case of the earlier survey, these comparisons are made only with
the U.S. and Canada, but data relative to the U.K. and to Slovenia, another relative newcomer to EDI,
became available for comparison with my second survey (the reasons for selecting each of these countries
are discussed in some detail in Chapters 5 and 6). Apart from summary and description, a large part of
this analysis consisted of ascertaining what common ground existed between the various surveys. This, in
turn, provides a qualitative estimate of how much predictive power the comparisons can offer.
2.3.3 Investigating the EDI Implementation Process
The quantitative research provided a considerable amount of information on the state of EDI - both
generally and within Australia in particular. It did not, however, provide any insights into the more
specific questions underlying the Integration and Business Process Redesign Hypotheses. To understand
the implications of integrating EDI into individual organisations, some more focused methodology was
clearly needed.
The majority of researchers undertaking analyses of such systems (see, for example, Barrett and
Konsynski, 1982; Cash and Konsynski, 1985; Cash, 1985; Keen, 1986; Malone et al, 1987; Runge and
Earl, 1988; Venkatraman and Zaheer, 1990; Reich and Benbasat, 1990; Venkatraman and Kambil, 1990)
have made use of single or multiple case studies, using interviews to gather data: "there seemed to be two
major methodological approaches to investigate the research questions. The first was a case approach ...
the second was a field study approach, with a large sample and an emphasis on quantitative results"
(Reich and Benbasat, 1990).
Bonoma suggests that case research methods are useful where "a phenomenon is broad and complex,
where the existing body of knowledge is insufficient to permit the posing of causal questions and when a
phenomenon cannot be studied outside the context in which it occurs" (Bonoma, 1985:207). Benbasat,
Goldstein and Mead, who summarise the views of several researchers in the field of Information Systems,
provide additional support for the use of the case study approach to investigate "certain types of problems:
those in which research and theory are at their early, formative stages; and sticky, practice-based
problems where the experiences of the actors are important and the context of action is critical"
(Benbasat, Goldstein and Mead, 1987:369).
Yin believes that the reason for selecting one particular research strategy over another is determined by:
"three conditions, consisting of (a) the type of research question posed, (b) the extent of control an
investigator has over actual behavioral events, and (c) the degree of focus on contemporary as opposed
to historical events" (Yin, 1989:16). Yin then notes that although the research strategies are not mutually
exclusive, it is possible to identify situations where one particular strategy is of particular usefulness. He
suggests that case studies are especially useful when the researcher is attempting to answer a "how" or
"why" question over which s/he has little control - an example which I felt was relevant to my own
investigations.
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Benbasat, Goldstein and Mead have also set out a list of questions intended to assist the prospective
researcher determine whether or not the case study approach is appropriate to his/her topic (Benbasat et
al, 1987:372). My original case studies were undertaken in 1990, at which time EDI was comparatively
new to Australia - by applying these questions to EDI as it then existed it is clear that a case study
approach is most appropriate to the testing of the Integration and Business Process Redesign Hypotheses (I
have included my original answers in bold-face):
1. Can the phenomenon of interest be studied outside its natural setting?
No - by definition, an organisational implementation can only be studied from within the
organisation in question.
2. Must the study focus on contemporary events?
Yes - EDI in Australia was, at that time, only five years old.
3. Is control or manipulation of subjects or events necessary?
No - observation and recording will provide the clearest evidence of current events.
4. Does the phenomenon of interest enjoy an established theoretical base?
No - as the contextual analysis of Chapter 3 shows, there was at best a very limited
theoretical basis for the study of EDI systems in general and EDI system integration in
particular.
While the decision to make use of a case study approach was now made, there were rather different
approaches required for each of the two Hypotheses. I had next to decide whether to use a single or
multiple case studies.
Yin also provided me with assistance in this selection process. He suggests that: "multiple-case designs
have distinct advantages and disadvantages in comparison to single-case designs ... a major insight is to
consider multiple cases as one would consider multiple experiments - that is, to follow a "replication"
logic. This is far different from a mistaken analogy in the past, which incorrectly considered multiple
cases to be similar to the multiple respondents in a survey (or to the multiple subjects within an
experiment) - that is, to follow a "sampling" logic" (Yin, 1989:52).
Further support for the earlier decision to select a multiple-case research design is found in Benbasat,
Goldstein and Mead: "multiple-case designs are desirable when the intent of the research is description,
theory building, or theory testing ... Multiple-case designs allow for cross-case analysis and the extension
of theory. Of course, multiple cases yield more general research results" (Benbaset et al, 1987:373).
Since the Integration Hypothesis was intended to produce both a description of current events and the
creation of theories, a multiple-case design appeared to be the most suitable approach.
A form of longitudinal confirmation was also made possible in this study by the availability of members of
the SWIFT group (the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications). Although
Australia's first EDI scheme is less than eight years old, SWIFT has provided an electronic clearing-house
for inter-bank funds transfer for nearly twenty years. SWIFT is one of the earlier, closed membership
inter-organisational system groups, which uses a standard message format unique to the group (although
SWIFT has promised a gradual convergence with the EDIFACT standards over the next decade) and
providing only agent status to non-bank financial institutions.
Despite these differences, the day-to-day operations of SWIFT are all but identical with the day-to-day
operations of the average EDI system, even to the sophisticated netting facilities made possible by value-
added information transfer (i.e. banks need not actually transfer to one another the full value of the day's
transactions, but merely the "net" short-fall calculated as a result of all transactions).
The major advantage of including this group of IOS users was the length of time during which SWIFT
had been operating in Australia, providing an opportunity to extend the study's investigation of Australian

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Throughout this Thesis I use the terms "business process redesign" and "business reengineering"
synonymously, to avoid the confusion which could result from trying to specify a precise definition for
terms which the many authors in this field frequently inter-change.
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EDI users to include longitudinal analysis, in addition to the "snap-shot" case study method proposed for
the majority of the research base.
The serendipitous availability of the SWIFT members, with their substantial integration experience
provided a cross-check on the validity of the results obtained during the initial survey and the EDI case
studies. While a semi-case-study of this sort cannot truly be described as a longitudinal survey during
which "one can sample the results of the process at several points in time and thus with the proper
controls make statements about the changes in structure" (Vitalari, 1985:253) it does provide a bench-
mark against which the very recent case study results may be compared.
The decision to use multiple case studies and limited longitudinal comparisons was thus most appropriate
for testing the Integration Hypothesis - but it did not offer the same advantages in the testing of the
Business Process Redesign Hypothesis
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. In order to understand the implications of a strategic approach to
EDI for an organisation's subsequent success in business reengineering, it would clearly be necessary to
investigate (at least) one organisation in considerable detail. The multiple case studies used for the
Integration Hypothesis, however, were studied by means of interview and a follow-up, mail questionnaire
(a copy of which is included in Appendix C).
Galliers points out that "single case studies are useful when developing or refining generalisable concepts
and frames of reference" (Galliers, 1992:155) and Yin (1989) suggests that a single case study is an
appropriate research approach under any of the following conditions:
! where the organisation can be considered a critical case (that is, one which meets all the
conditions needed to test the theory)
! where an extreme or unique case can be identified
! where the organisation can be considered a revelatory case (that is, where there are very few
examples, so that the investigation of even one can be considered valuable).
I therefore decided to make use of a single, in-depth analysis of an organisation which would (ideally)
support both the first and third of Yin's conditions (a detailed discussion of how I selected BHP Steel as
my single case study is found in Chapter 8).
Galliers (1992) warns the prospective researcher of the difficulty of generalising from a single case study -
but the constraints imposed by time and limited finances seemed to indicate that this approach would be
the most appropriate. I therefore decided to conduct a limited number of comparative case studies of this
phenomenon in late 1992 (drawn from the group which provided the multiple case studies, to limit the
time needed for familiarisation) with the intention of providing some cross-sectional support for the
findings of the major, single case study. The results of these additional studies are included in Chapter 7
and offer a measure of support for the major case study.
2.3.3.1 Research Strategy Considerations
The geographic problems of conducting case studies of Australian east-coast organisations while being
physically based in Western Australia meant that the actual data gathering needed to be undertaken in a
series of intensive "bursts":
! in the case of the multiple case studies used to test the Integration Hypothesis, during the summer
vacation of 1989/1990. The face-to-face interviews were conducted during December 1989 and
analysed during the next few months. A follow-up mail questionnaire (later supported by letters,
faxes and phone calls) was sent to case study participants in August 1990 and the results analysed
over the following months
! in the case of all the case studies used to test the Business Process Redesign Hypothesis, during
the middle of 1992. It should be noted, however, that I was only able to undertake the additional
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case studies because I had already spent considerable time with each of the organisations
concerned on a number of previous occasions and therefore had no background data to elicit. I
was able to spend a relatively short period discussing the changes which had occurred over the
past year to complete a picture of these organisations' integration experiences and strategic
approach to EDI.
2.3.3.2 Choice of Research Sample
Case study participants for the multiple case study were selected on the basis of the results of the initial
1989 survey - the sample was thus, to some extent, limited by the extent of Australian involvement in
EDI. The original preferred primary group of participants was thus those Australian organisations
currently involved in either an existing or a pilot EDI scheme (this group is specified in more detail in
Chapter 7).
SWIFT members include all four of Australia's national banks, the majority of State banks, the
international banks operating in Australia, the amalgamated products of foreign-based banks and
Australian financial organisations and the newer Australian banks (such as Challenge Bank, the
Australian Bank, or the Bank of Melbourne). For the sake of consistency, I hoped to gain access to a
sample of SWIFT users similar in composition to that of my sample of EDI users. The Commonwealth
Bank (as representative of the four major banks) and the State Bank of Victoria (as representative of the
smaller SWIFT members) were therefore chosen as the case study sample.
In the case of the major, single case study I attempted to find the most advanced EDI-using organisation
in Australia - I selected BHP Steel on the basis of both the organisation's strategic, top-down approach to
EDI and of its known inclination towards the introduction of business reengineering. The additional case
studies, (which included Kmart, the Australian Customs Service, the Australian Quarantine and
Inspection Service and the Fremantle Port Authority) were selected on the basis that:
! they were actively working towards the use of EDI for business process redesign
! they would provide some measure of confirmation of the four-stage model of EDI integration,
which predicted that organisations taking a truly strategic approach to EDI would reach a stage
in which EDI became the enabling mechanism for business reengineering and
! I had already established good relationships with these organisations, which reduced the time
required to obtain background information by a substantial amount.
2.4 Summary
This Chapter has explained the structure of the present research project, pointing out the iterative nature
of much of the research and my consequent need to present material in a logically (rather than temporally)
ordered fashion. In this Chapter, however, I have attempted to examine the work from a project
management viewpoint - analysing the individual sub-projects to see why each was chosen and how they
fit together. The Chapter also provides a justification for the research methods I selected for each sub-
project in some detail and explains both my research strategy and manner in which the practical
implementation of each method was conducted.
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