VBE Reference Framework

Hamideh Afsarmanesh, Luís Manuel Camarinha-matos, Ermilova Ekaterina

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

26 Citations (Scopus)


The Virtual organizations Breeding Environment (VBE) represents a long-term "strategic" alliance, cluster, association, or pool of organizations that provides the necessary pre-conditions for cooperation among its member organizations and facilitates the fluid establishment of Virtual Organizations (VOs) in response to the emerging collaboration opportunities in the market /society (Camarinha-Matos, Afsarmanesh, 2004a). Traditionally, earlier forms of VBEs, namely clusters /associations are established within given geographic regions, taking advantage of having common business culture and sense of community, and typically focused on one or a few specialty sectors of the region. Nowadays, the challenge is mainly directed to removing those restrictions, and finding solutions to extend and boost these associations with enhanced VBE "support-environments". These 2nd generation VBEs apply effective Information and communication infrastructures, tools and services to provide common grounds for organizations' interaction /collaboration, facilitate the configuration and establishment of VOs, assist with the needed evolution of VOs, introduce new approaches and mechanisms to build trust, define a collaboration business culture, establish the common value systems and working/sharing principles among independent organizations, and support multi-regional VBEs among others. In this chapter we consider the following definition for the 2nd generation VBEs: "VBE is an association of organizations and the related supporting institutions, adhering to a base long term cooperation agreement, and adoption of common operating principles and infrastructures, with the main goal of increasing their preparedness towards collaboration in potential Virtual Organizations (Afsarmanesh, Camarinha-Matos, 2005)." While the basic VBE characteristics can be observed and identified from the empirical observation of various case studies (e.g. Virtuelle Fabrik, Switzerland; IECOS, Mexico; CeBeNetwork, Germany; Helice network, Spain; NetworkA, Finland; Torino Wireless, Italy; Treviso region, Italy; etc.) (Afsarmanesh et al, 2007) and improved futuristic scenarios as addressed in Figure 1, a more systematic approach is needed for comprehensive modeling of VBEs. For this purpose, and considering the complexity of the general VBE environments, the development of a "reference framework" for VBEs, addressing the entire set of heterogeneous VBE characteristics is required. Some research in the last few years has focused on the definition of reference architectures for virtual enterprises (Tolle et al., 2003) (Zwegers et al, 2003), and to a much lesser degree also for the virtual organizations, nevertheless research on the reference modeling and a reference framework for their design and development is still at its early stages. (Figure presented) Generally, a framework is a conceptual structure used to approach and solve a complex issue. The VBE reference framework is therefore aimed to serve as a container of comprehensive concepts, entities, and functionalities needed both for establishing and managing VBEs. The VBE reference framework also provides guidelines for researchers and experts to model various aspects of VBEs, as a step towards developing the VBE management systems. Thus, to support modelers, designers and developers, the VBE reference framework consists of reusable guidelines and possible generic models that can assist such users with both understating of the existing components and concepts in VBEs, as well as how they operate. Defining a comprehensive and generic "VBE reference model" is challenging. Nevertheless, based on the large amount of literature in this area and the initial empirical knowledge gathered from a large number of existing cases, it is realistic to systematically define a "reference framework for VBEs", addressing its variety of aspects from the VBE topology, to its behavior and structure among many others. In this chapter a VBE reference framework is presented, addressing the 2nd generation VBEs. For this framework, we first in Section 2 address the identified environment characteristics of a VBE, e.g. its actors and their rights /responsibilities, its life cycle and the main VBE functionalities related to different stages of its life cycle, etc., resulted from literature and empirical studies. We then in Section 3 present four near-orthogonal sub-spaces for the VBE paradigm grouping the endogenous VBE elements. Furthermore, in Section 4 we introduce an ontological representation of the various VBE knowledge concepts. Finally, in Section 5 we present a VBE semi-typology that is developed through the identification of a set of distinguishing characteristics for different kinds of VBEs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods and Tools for Collaborative Networked Organizations
EditorsL Camarinha-Matos, H Afsarmanesh, M Ollus
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherSpringer US
Number of pages34
ISBN (Print)978-0-387-79423-5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • Member Company
  • Collaborative Network
  • Member Organization
  • Business Opportunity
  • Virtual Organization


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