Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Greenwood, G. Allen

Committee Member

Bullington, F. Stanley

Committee Member

Bullington, E. Kimball

Committee Member

Brown, G. Larry

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Industrial Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering


Virtual enterprises are increasingly being used as an organizational strategy for meeting customer needs. Potential benefits of virtual enterprises include increased profits, flexibility, increased customer service, better quality, a quicker time to market, and access to larger markets. However, the brokers that organize these ventures face challenges that arise in five key management activities: select partners, develop communication, develop culture, develop trust, and enhance behavior through motivation. A broker?s ability to overcome the problems in these activities determines the degree to which the benefits are achieved. Examples in the literature point to the possibility that interactive relationships exist between the five management activities. Considering all of these possible associations leads to a complex web of relationships that makes it difficult to determine the overall impact of specific improvements. This research investigates the five management activities and defines the primary relationships between them. The primary relationships are used to develop a conceptual model that brokers can apply as a methodology for systematically developing a virtual enterprise and thereby proactively addressing potential problems. In developing the conceptual model, this research utilizes approaches from other disciplines for addressing similar problems. The application of these approaches results in the use of systems engineering concepts to plan and design a virtual enterprise, the development of a partner selection methodology that incorporates ideas from the supplier performance measurement literature, the development of a pre-partner cultural assessment and post-partner cultural development process that are based on ideas found in the literature on mergers, and the use of project management as a means for coordinating the activities in a virtual enterprise. In addition to the preceding contributions, this research provides a comprehensive view of the characteristics of virtual enterprises. Included in these provisions are a detailed definition process and an extension of the literature to establish a typology of virtual enterprises.