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Digitalization of the buyer–seller relationship in the steel industry

Jari Salo (Department of Economics and Management, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland and Faculty of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia)
Teck Ming Tan (Department of Marketing, Management and International Business, Oulu Business School, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland)
Hannu Makkonen (School of Marketing and Communication, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 22 December 2020

Issue publication date: 27 July 2021




The purpose of this paper is to cast light on the nature of the digitalization process that occurs when digital technologies are adopted in buyer–seller relationships.


The study features a case study from the steel processing industry.


The present research builds on and extends the interaction approach to the context of buyer–seller relationship digitalization process. The study explicates the interrelated elements of digital infrastructure, digital communication and degree of digitalization of the buyer–seller relationship.

Research limitations/implications

The study aims at theoretical generalization and thus produces conceptual understanding that is to some extent applicable to various contexts. The generalization of the empirical insights to other process-focused industries is to some extent possible. However, further research in versatile empirical contexts is needed to validate the results.

Practical implications

For managers, the study presents a success case of digital technologies use for improving a buyer–seller relationship.


The originality of the present research is in the way it depicts how a buyer–seller relationship is gradually digitalized in successive digital technology adoptions, that is, a virtuous cycle of digitalization, that creates and alters the digital infrastructure and digital communication processes between the buyer and the seller resulting in different outcomes (degrees of digitalization in the buyer–seller relationship).



Salo, J., Tan, T.M. and Makkonen, H. (2021), "Digitalization of the buyer–seller relationship in the steel industry", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 7, pp. 1229-1245.



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