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The business value of cloud computing: the partnering agility perspective

Sen Liu (School of Logistics, Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, Kunming , China)
Yang Yang (School of Management , Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China)
Wen Guang Qu (School of Management, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China)
Yuan Liu (School of Management, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Article publication date: 11 July 2016




The purpose of this paper is to focus on the value creation potential of cloud computing in inter-firm partnerships. It examines how cloud-based IT infrastructure capabilities in flexibility and integration contribute to partnering agility and, consequently, firm performance. This study also introduces business lifecycle and market turbulence as internal and external context variables, respectively, to investigate the different roles of cloud computing in value creation.


A questionnaire was used to collect data from 184 client firms of the largest cloud computing services provider in China (Alibaba Cloud). The theoretical model was tested using PLS analysis.


Cloud infrastructure (CI) flexibility has a positive effect on partnering agility, while the effect of CI integration on partnering agility is moderated by business lifecycle and market turbulence.

Research limitations/implications

The surveyed firms are all Alibaba Cloud clients, which may limit the generalization of the findings.

Practical implications

The study suggests that besides the cost benefits, the value creation aspect of cloud computing should also be emphasized in research and practice. The study provides a new perspective to understand the business value of cloud computing in inter-firm partnerships.


The study suggests that the flexibility-related and integration-related features of cloud computing can create value for firms by facilitating inter-firm collaboration in exploiting business opportunities.



This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation Council of China under Project 71502159 and 71572180; the Applied Basic Research Science Foundation of Yunnan Provincial Department of Science and Technology under Project 2015FD028.


Liu, S., Yang, Y., Qu, W.G. and Liu, Y. (2016), "The business value of cloud computing: the partnering agility perspective", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 116 No. 6, pp. 1160-1177.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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