Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 13 Number 4 1997 pp. 139-165

Organizational Transformation Using Electronic Data Interchange: The Case of TradeNet in Singapore

Hock-Hai, Teo, Tan, Bernard C Y, and Kwok-Kee, Wei

ABSTRACT: This study illustrates how electronic data interchange (EDI) could be used in conjunction with organizational transformation to generate phenomenal gains in organizational efficiency and effectiveness. It reviews the current literature on information-technology-enabled organizational transformation to identify key variables for measuring organizational change. It employs the case research method to examine TradeNet, a well-established EDI system in Singapore. It discusses how the Trade Development Board (TDB) of Singapore has taken advantage of the TradeNet opportunity to drastically transform its own organizational structure, business processes, business network, and business scope. The organizational transformation that accompanied TradeNet implementation resulted in significant gains for both the public and the private sector in Singapore. TDB and other public-sector organizations gained in terms of increased productivity in carrying out their organizational functions. The trading community, comprising the private-sector organizations, benefited in terms of increased competitiveness. Change-point analyses carried out on annual organizational and performance figures confirmed the productivity increases at TDB. Analyses of the results of questionnaires administered to TradeNet participants confirmed the increased competitiveness experienced by the trading community. Noteworthy lessons from this study, important for EDI implementation, are a willingness to change existing mindset, to institute radical transformation, to leverage knowledge and technology, and to foster win-win situations. This study demonstrates that the use of IT, or EDI in particular, for organizational transformation could lead to phenomenal gains.

Key words and phrases: electronic data interchange, information technology, organizational transformation, trade administration, TradeNet