Infoscience

Thesis

Digital transformation, business models and the postal industry

For many decades, the postal industry offered postal services and in parallel, had a monopoly over the national postal markets. Recently, the postal industry endured a phase where their national postal markets were subjected to liberalisation by the respective nations. This was due to various reasons such as inefficiencies of the postal services, ambiguous monopoly legislations, mounting pressure from competitors, and changing nature of customer demands. The liberalisation of the European Union postal markets is an example of a liberalisation that was based on the unique requirement of harmonising the postal services across the whole European Union. Other nations outside the European Union liberalised their postal markets either completely or partially based on their own unique requirements. After the liberalisation phase, the postal industry faced a significant challenge from digital services. Digital services were responsible for the constant declines in profitable letter service volumes. In response, the postal industry started developing digital postal services. However, therein lies the problem. The postal industry is unaware of the steps needed to develop digital postal services and has not had a great deal of financial success in this area. I address this problem by referring to “business models. Business models have been a recent area of interest in management literature and, as such, offer an innovative perspective on the postal industry development activities in digital postal services. The main goal of my dissertation is to provide recommendations for the postal industry€™s development of digital postal services via business models. The four sub-goals of the dissertation are as follows: determine the business model framework, determine the different types of business models for digital postal services using the business model framework, determine the antecedents to these business models, and determine the performance effects of these business models on the postal industry. The targeted research methodology involves multiple exploratory case studies and explanatory survey studies on the digital service activities of the postal operators. I initially developed a business model framework from the literature review. The business model framework has four components that help identify business models within firms: value proposition, resources, network and finance. Subsequently, I conducted case studies on the digital postal services activities of six postal operators, in order to investigate the different types of business models for digital postal services. I identified four types of business models for digital postal services based on my developed business model framework: traditional add-ons, digital add-ons, hybrid ecosystem and digital ecosystem. I then conducted survey studies with postal operators in a number of countries, in order to investigate the antecedents of the business models described above, as well as the performance effects of these business models on the postal industry. The findings suggest that dynamic capabilities have a statistically significant impact on the business models that are in synergy with the postal operators physical postal services. In addition, the business models that are in synergy with the postal operators€™ physical postal services have a statistically significant impact on firm performance.

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