Online business-to-business markets for industrial product reuse: Evidence from an operational policy change

Suvrat Dhanorkar, Karen Donohue, Kevin W Linderman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Problem definition: We examine the importance of expert services in online materials and waste exchanges (OMWEs), which are online business-to-business markets for coordinating transactions of industrial surplus, by-products, and waste. Academic/ practical relevance: OMWEs face unique challenges because of their product mix and market characteristics. Many OMWEs have traditionally relied on a combination of routine services (online aggregation, filtered search, etc.) and expert services (selective and spatial matching, contract facilitation, etc.). Although OMWEs employ varying levels of expert services, the ultimate value of expert services in promoting transactions is not fully understood. From a managerial perspective, our study provides insights into the importance of balancing routine and expert services, offering guidance on when expert services offer the most benefits. From an academic perspective, we expand on the type of product and market attributes that should be considered in tailoring OMWE designs. Methodology: We use transactional data from a unique OMWE setting (, which consists of approximately 3,500 product listings from 700+ supplier firms, collected during 2001–2007. We use various econometric techniques (survival analysis, regression discontinuity, etc.) to examine the changes in performance, including transaction rates and time to market, attributable to an operational policy change that occurred in 2004. We further conduct a detailed examination of mechanisms, alternative explanations, and counterfactual analysis. Results: The results show that eliminating expert services in OMWEs can adversely affect transaction outcomes in OMWEs. In particular, the results show that OMWEs should consider their product mix and market characteristics when making decisions about the appropriate use of expert services. Managerial implications: The study provides insights for improving the potential of online reuse marketplaces in the circular economy. From a broader perspective, the paper contributes to the debate on the role of technology in sustainable development and technology substitution for human tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1373-1397
Number of pages25
JournalManufacturing and Service Operations Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

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  • B2B markets
  • Circular economy
  • Econometric analysis
  • Policy change
  • Product reuse


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