Maria Perez MCS-2008-28, pp. 58. TEK/avd. för interaktion och systemdesign, 2008.
A Virtual Enterprise (VE) is a temporal alliance between two or more Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) geographically dispersed, which collaborate together in order to reach new business opportunities that would be unreachable in other ways. It is a business collaboration paradigm that aims at responding to the uncertainty and instability of the current global economy. VE requires support for electronic contract management, since electronic contracts formalize the agreements between the participating enterprises and coordinate their behavior. Although there is an abundance of previous work on electronic contracts, there is a lack of models and approaches related to VE contracts, which have an intrinsic dynamic and flexible nature, since they regulate independent behavior of diverse parties, and also aim at high automation in the formation and execution. This thesis aims at contributing to the VE contracting challenge. It includes a state of the art survey that identifies useful technologies and describes the most significant or relevant approaches. The state of the art survey identifies three main contracting issues: Contract specification, which determines the structure, content and performance of the contract; deontic logic norms, which represent the contractual interactions between the parties in terms of obligations, prohibitions and permissions; and ontology, which provides contracts with semantic meaning and allows interoperability. Furthermore, a simple XML-based VE Contract Representation Language and a Layered Contract Ontology, which provides common vocabulary to the contractual parties, are presented. Finally a VE scenario, including the associated contract, is described as an illustrative example.