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A collaborative platform for buyer coalition: Introducing the Awareness-based Buyer Coalition (ABC) system


A variety of buyer coalition schemes already exist in the current e-Commerce literature by which buyers form some sort of coalition in order to enjoy added discounts as a result of purchasing in larger bundles. One major problem in all existing schemes is that none of those schemes explicitly treat the coalition process as a collaborative business process; and as a result, the awareness and knowledge-sharing requirements are not explicitly recognized in the design process of the existing systems. This study proposes a conceptual framework for a buyer coalition system called the Awareness-based Buyer Coalition (ABC) system that allows a buyer to bid on the basis of various levels of awareness that s/he may have about other roles’ actions/intentions. The study is an early attempt for explicitly considering awareness and knowledge-sharing requirements of various roles within the buyer coalition process. The theoretical foundations of the study are rooted in the fields of Game Theory, e-Commerce, and Knowledge Management. The research methodology adopted for the study is design science. Various existing buyer coalition algorithms were reviewed and their strengths and weaknesses identified in terms of addressing the information-sharing needs of collaborating buyers. Furthermore, the existing literature on Knowledge Management was reviewed in order to identify an appropriate process model for the proposed buyer coalition framework with specific emphasis on awareness and knowledge-sharing requirements of its collaborating actors. For validation of the proposed conceptual model simulation software was developed to demonstrate results of a variety of simulations for the proof of the concept.

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Correspondence to Farhad Daneshgar.

Appendix ‘A’

Appendix ‘A’

Summary of the awareness net modeling language (adopted from (Daneshgar 2005; Daneshgar and Wang 2007; Ray et al. 2005))

Awareness net is a conceptual process map for collaborative business processes. Its aim is to identify awareness and knowledge sharing requirements of collaborating actors in collaborative processes. It is made of a set of collaborative semantic concepts namely, roles, tasks, role artefacts, and task artefacts and are explained below. An Awareness Net can be represented by a connected graph with at least two role vertices that perform at least one collaborative tasks and zero or more individual tasks. The nodes and links of the connected graph constitute various semantic concepts for the collaborative process. A hypothetical awareness net is shown in the top section of the Fig. 6, and includes four roles, V, X, Y and T. The graph shown on the bottom part of Fig. 1 however is not a representative of an awareness net because there is only one role within the process labeled as ‘Z’.

Fig. 6
figure 6

An awareness net with four collaborating roles

The collaborative semantic concepts of the awareness net are described below:


These are human actors that perform a set of tasks within the process. An actor may play several roles within the process, but a role is played by one actor at any given time. In Fig. 6, the four roles are shown by filled circles labelled ‘V’, ‘X’, ‘Y’, and ‘T’.


A sequence of actions or steps performed by a role. Some tasks are performed individually using a role artefact, and some are performed in collaboration with one or more other roles, in which case a task artefact is used/shared/exchanged by the collaborating roles. In Fig. 6, the three tasks corresponding to the role V are shown by plain circles labelled ‘f’, ‘e’ and ‘d’.

Role artefact

It is a knowledge asset/artefact that a role uses personally (non-collaboratively) in order to perform one of his/her individual tasks within the process. In Fig. 6, the role artefacts corresponding to the role ‘V’ are {V-f}, {V-e}, and {V, d}.

Task artefact

It is an organisational/shared knowledge asset/artefact that two or more roles ‘use/share/produce/act upon’ in order to perform a collaborative task. In Fig. 6, the two task artefacts used by the roles X and V are {{1-d} and {2-d}.

Awareness levels

Under the Awareness Net modeling language, the human-bound psychological approach of awareness initiated by the interactionist researchers in the field of social psychology, has been extended to a process-bound context of business organizations where individuals perform collaborative tasks in order to achieve certain process goals. Five levels of (process) awareness have been identified by the original author of the Awareness Net and are listed below:

Level-0 awareness: is the role’s awareness about his/her role within the collaborative process, the relevant role artifacts, and the tasks that s/he performs within the process. In Fig. 6 the level-0 awareness for the role ‘T’ consists of the following set of objects:

$$ {\text{Level}} - 0({\text{T}}) = \{ {\text{T}},\{ {\text{T}},{\text{c}}\}, {\text{c}},\{ {\text{T}},{\text{b}},{\text{b}},\{ {\text{T}},{\text{a}},{\text{a}}\} \} $$

Level-1 awareness: is about the awareness of the context of the collaborating roles. It is the role’s level 0 awareness, PLUS all the concepts/objects on the process map of Fig. 6 that correspond to the tasks that are performed by other collaborating roles within the process. The Level-1 awareness for the role ‘V’ is:

$$ {\text{Level}} - {\text{1(V)}} = \left\{ {{\text{Level}} - 0({\text{V}}),\left\{ {{\text{d}},{1}} \right\},{1},\left\{ {{1},{\text{X}}} \right\},{\text{X}},\left\{ {{\text{d}},{2}} \right\},{2},\left\{ {{2},{\text{X}}} \right\}} \right\} $$

Level-2 awareness: is about having awareness about all the process roles. It extends level 1 by including additional remaining roles within the process.

Level-3 awareness: extends level 2 by including all the remaining task artifacts that exist within the process.

Level-4 awareness: extends level 3 by including all remaining concepts within the process; that is, everybody else’s personal tasks, as well as their related role artifacts that have not been known to the role at previous levels of awareness. A role’s level-4 awareness corresponds to his/her full awareness about all the concepts that exist on the process map in Fig. 6 .

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Boongasame, L., Daneshgar, F. A collaborative platform for buyer coalition: Introducing the Awareness-based Buyer Coalition (ABC) system. Inf Syst Front 15, 89–98 (2013).

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  • Electronic commerce
  • Coalition formation
  • Buyer coalition
  • Awareness
  • Knowledge-sharing