The Examination of Taobao E-commerce Platform Exploitation from an Entrepreneurial Perspective
: The Case of Chinese Pure-play Fashion E-retailers

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Purpose– The aim of this thesis is to assess and examine the impact ofentrepreneurship characteristics upon the firms’ ability to exploit the Taobao ecommerceplatform for market opportunities. These research enquiries areinterrogated through an exploration of pure-play e-retailers in the Chinese fashionindustry. The thesis responds to the dearth of extant research investigating thisarea and also the rapid growth of the e-commerce market.Design/Methodology/Approach– The need to examine how and whyentrepreneurship characteristics impact upon the exploitation of the Taobaoplatform justifies a qualitative, case study approach. In total, eight pure-play eretailerswere examined, drawn from the Chinese fashion industry, In-depth interviews were carried out with the firms’ entrepreneursand staff members, alongside observation of the firms’ webpages and socialmedia activity. The qualitative data from interview and observation were analysedby thematic analysis.Findings– Drawing out from thematic analysis, these findings highlight that theTaobao e-commerce exploitation process is underpinned by five significantentrepreneurship characteristics (innovativeness, forward-looking perspective,fast-mover, business knowledge, relationship-building & networks). The Taobaoe-commerce exploitation process is situated within the external onlineenvironment (lack of trust, the relatively homogenous market environment, fastchangingonline market needs, aggressive competition and technologicaldevelopment) and the entrepreneurship characteristics are shaped by these.Originality/Value–The research has provided an initial understanding of ecommerceexploitation through an entrepreneurship lens and of EM in an onlinecontext and calls other researchers to further examine e-commerce platformexploitation for market opportunities. The research recommends e-commercefirms to develop an entrepreneurial perspective when interacting with the onlineenvironment and to adopt an entrepreneurial outlook in exploiting the ecommerceplatform.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorSophie Yang (Supervisor) & Donald Finlay (Supervisor)

Cite this