Research on business-to-business barter in Australia

Getting Better at Sensemaking

ISBN: 978-0-76230-633-6, eISBN: 978-1-84950-043-2

ISSN: 1069-0964

Publication date: 2 February 2001


Formalized business-to-business (corporate) barter is relatively new to the Australian business marketing and purchasing landscape. This is the first empirical study reported on business-to-business barter in Australia. Business-to-business barter operates through trade exchanges which centralize barter transactions in a highly organized and transparent manner. Computer technologies have facilitated the growth and sophistication of this exchange system. It appears to becoming institutionalized in Australia within and alongside the orthodox prices-mediated market regime. Business-to-business barter might be seen as an innovation on a very old fundamental in exchange that has re-emerged in response to deficiencies in the orthodox system.This chapter reports research on the largest of Australia's barter trade exchanges, Bartercard. Bartercard is not only a national exchange within Australia as it also has begun to internationalize its operations. A national mail survey of Bartercard members was conducted to understand more of this form of business-to-business enterprise. Issues investigated include: benefits of membership, limitations of the system, “pricing” within the system, the transaction coordination mechanism, factors leading to success of the system and its likelihood of longevity. Demographics of surveyed firms are reported. The results indicate that there are significant benefits for members but that trading in the system has limitations which necessitate a reliance on the orthodox prices-mediated system for the larger part of the firm's business activity. It does appear that a membership consociation exists within the system which facilitates the transaction mediation. The organizational nature of the trade exchange investigated, and its management, will ensure continuation of its members' business barter trade regardless of variations in the macroeconomics of Australia's economy. Avenues for enterprising research are uncovered.


Liesch, P. and Birch, D. (2001), "Research on business-to-business barter in Australia", Woodside, A. (Ed.) Getting Better at Sensemaking (Advances in Business Marketing and Purchasing, Vol. 9), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 353-384.

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