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2018/2019  KAN-CBUSV2030U  The Digital Dragon from the East: Learning from E-Commerce in China (B)

English Title
The Digital Dragon from the East: Learning from E-Commerce in China (B)

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
BUS Study Board for BSc/MSc in Business Administration and Information Systems, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Xiao Xiao - Department of Digitalisation
Main academic disciplines
  • Information technology
  • Management
  • Strategy
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 21-02-2018

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • Understand and apply the theoretical concepts introduced in the course;
  • Identify and critically assess the contextual environment shaping e-commerce in China;
  • Compare and reflect on the innovative potential of e-business models in China and on their development trajectories;
  • Analyse a real-life case of e-commerce in the Chinese market and provide managerial recommendations based on the analysis.
The Digital Dragon from the East: Learning from E-Commerce in China:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Assignment type Written assignment
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
The make-up exam is the same form as the ordinary exam.
Description of the exam procedure

For the examination, students need to write an assignment based on the analysis of a real-life e-commerce case in the Chinese market. The chosen e-commerce case could be either a foreign e-commerce company operating in China, or a domestic Chinese e-commerce firm. The analysis should be focusing on whether and how the chosen case (and its business model) has operated in the Chinese market, drawing from the concepts and ideas we have discussed in the course, and taking into consideration the specific e-commerce context in China. Students are encouraged to base their analysis on empirical evidence (can be either primary data or secondary data). Managerial suggestions/guidelines should be provided as part of the outcomes of the report. 

Course content and structure

On September 18, 2014 the world witnessed the largest IPO in history, carried out by the Alibaba corporation, a Chinese ecommerce platform that is an online marketplace, a software vendor, a search engine, and a bank, all in one. Today, Alibaba manages more transactions on its online sites than eBay and Amazon combined.


The emergence of China as a new economic superpower is having implications not only in the way we look at global economic competition but, most importantly, it provides unprecedented opportunities to understand and leverage the creation of groundbreaking innovative business models in the digital world.


This course provides an understanding of the development and the characteristics of ecommerce in China, with the aim of providing students with practical and theoretical skills to understand the impact of unique social, economic, political, and technological factors shaping ecommerce, and envision innovative approaches to traditional ecommerce



Through active learning based on reallife cases, the course explores the peculiarities of the Chinese ecommerce environment, provides tools for understanding the development of ecommerce strategies, and identifies emerging opportunities and challenges of the Chinese digital landscape in a globalized world.


The course will emphasize the unique factors influencing the use of digital tools for ecommerce in China, focusing on the innovation potential of unique ecommerce solutions.


The goal of the course is twofold: 1) to equip students with knowledge about the ecommerce landscape in China, which allow them to solve practical problems when dealing with the Chinese market; 2) to present students with innovative and successful ecommerce cases in China, which will shed light on how to engage in ecommerce practices in general.


Description of the teaching methods
Case-based teaching; In-class discussion; Guest lecturers from the industry
Feedback during the teaching period
Two project workshops will be held throughout the course where students will be given feedback on the topic they have chosen for the final exam.
Student workload
Lectures 24 hours
Preparation of lectures (incl. reading) 100 hours
Workshops 12 hours
Exam preparation 71 hours
Further Information

For eBuss students, this course will be offered as a B (business) course.

Expected literature

Expected literature

(List may still be altered until course beginning)


Journal Articles/Reports:

  • An internet with Chinese characteristics. (2011, July 30). The Economist. Retrieved from http:/​/​www.economist.com/​node/​21524821
  • Avgerou, C., & Li, B. (2013). Relational and institutional embeddedness of Web‐enabled entrepreneurial networks: case studies of netrepreneurs in China. Information Systems Journal, 23(4), 329-350.
  • Bell, D. R., Gallino, S., & Moreno, A. (2014). How to Win in an Omnichannel World. MIT Sloan Management Review, 56(1), 45.
  • Beck, N., & Rygl, D. (2015). Categorization of multiple channel retailing in Multi-, Cross-, and Omni‐Channel Retailing for retailers and retailing. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 27, 170–178.
  • Chen, Y., Seong, J., and Woetzel, J. (2015) China’s Rising Internet Wave: Wired Companies MicKinsey Quarterly, January 2015
  • Chen, J., Zhang, C., Yuan, Y., & Huang, L. (2007). Understanding the emerging C2C electronic market in China: an experience‐seeking social marketplace. Electronic Markets, 17(2), 86-100.
  • E-commerce in China: A Guide for Australian Business (2015, June). Austrade.Gov. http:/​/​www.austrade.gov.au/​ArticleDocuments/​1353/​ecommerce_in_china_brochure.pdf.aspx.
  • Gawer, A. (2014). Bridging differing perspectives on technological platforms: Toward an integrative framework. Research Policy, 43(7), 1239-1249.
  • Gawer, A., Cusumano, M. A., & Strategy, D. S. (2008). How companies become platform leaders. MIT/Sloan Management Review, 49(2).
  • Leong, C. M. L., Pan, S. L., Newell, S., & Cui, L. (2016). The Emergence of Self-Organizing E-Commerce Ecosystems in Remote Villages of China: A Tale of Digital Empowerment for Rural Development. MIS Quarterly, 40(2), 475-484.
  • Lu, B., Zhang, S., & Fan, W. (2015). Social Representations of Social Media Use in Government An Analysis of Chinese Government Microblogging From Citizens’ Perspective. Social Science Computer Review
  • Marchi, A., and Parekh, E. (2015). How the Sharing Economy Can Make its Case, McKinsey Quarterly, December 15
  • Martinsons, M. G. (2008). Relationship‐based e‐commerce: theory and evidence from China. Information Systems Journal, 18(4), 331-356.
  • Meyer, E. & Shen, E.Y. (2010). China Myths, China Facts, Harvard Business Review, 88(1/2): 24
  • Ou, C. X., & Davison, R. M. (2009). Technical opinion Why eBay lost to TaoBao in China: the Glocal advantage. Communications of the ACM, 52(1), 145-148.
  • Schlæger, J., & Jiang, M. (2014). Official microblogging and social management by local governments in China. China Information, 28(2), 189–213. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1177/​0920203X14533901
  • Tan, B., Pan, S. L., Lu, X., & Huang, L. (2015). The Role of IS Capabilities in the Development of Multi-Sided Platforms: The Digital Ecosystem Strategy of Alibaba. com. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 16(4), 248-280.
  • Zheng, L. (2013). Social media in Chinese government: Drivers, challenges and capabilities. Government Information Quarterly, 30(4), 369–376.
  • Zheng, L., & Zheng, T. (2014). Innovation through social media in the public sector: Information and interactions. Government Information Quarterly, 31, Supplement 1, S106–S117



  • Chen, X. (2015). The Alibaba Group and Online to Offline (O2O) Sales. Ivey Publishing.
  • Chu, M., Ji, J.S., and Dai, N. H. (2016). CunCunLe: Empowering China’s Rural Villages
  • Cui, M. Guo, Y., Peng, F., Wang, J., Wang, L., and Yang, T. (2015). Beijing XiaoMi Technology Co.: Growth via Online Channels
  • Kirby, W., Eby, J.W., Lu, S., and Mitchell, A. (2016) Uber in China: Driving in the Gray Zone. Harvard Business Case
  • Lu, J., Tao, Z. & Chan, I. (2007). eBay’s Strategy in China: Alliance or Acquisition? University of Hong Kong.
  • Mohanty, D. (2014). Sina Weibo: China’s Twitter? Amity Research Centers
  • Shih, W., Yu, H., & Liu, F. (2015). WeChat: A Global Platform? Harvard Business School Cases
  • Yang, Y., Su, N., and Fang, Y. (2016). Didi, KuaiDi, and Uber China. Ivey Publishing
  • Zhu, F. & Smith, A. (2015). Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent: The Three Kingdoms of the Chinese Internet. Harvard Business School Cases


Textbook (optional)

  • Gervasi, M. (2016). EastCommerce, A Journey through China Ecommerce and the Internet of Things, Wiley, ISBN: 978-1-119-23088-5
Last updated on 21-02-2018