Electronic data interchange in international trade: frameworks for the strategic analysis of ocean port communities

Clive D. Wrigley*, Rene W. Wagenaar, Roger A. Clarke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


As informational aspects of international trade become more important, the strategic positions of ocean port communities become increasingly dependent on the quality and availability of telecommunication and processing infrastructures. This paper develops two frameworks to assess the level and nature of electronic trade integration within the context of a port community enterprise model. Port communities throughout the world are applying electronic data interchange (EDI) to trade functions because it enables open communications among many partners, provides acceptably quick communications for relatively low cost, and offers the prospect of significant savings in time and cost through reduced data capture volume and error-rates. EDI enables not only internal efficiencies but also the creation of new trade services. The first framework specifies the information systems and technology needed to enable EDI in international trade. The framework comprises two levels of infrastructure: communications and documentary; both supporting a third superstructure of business processes. Port communities are evolving from providing not only goods-handling facilities but offering advanced data-handling and processing systems as well. As competition between ports increases, information systems become key elements in their strategic positions. A second framework provides the structure for understanding physical and informational strategies of ports and port communities, and to examine their importance. Port communities may follow several models of infrastructure integration in moving towards their strategic objectives. However, realizing this potential requires research to determine the specific configurations that will fit into each trade environment. The contributions of this research to governments and corporations are primarily to provide models of successful application of EDI to international trade, and insight into technology transfer and diffusion, corporate competitiveness and policy formulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-234
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Strategic Information Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1994


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