This paper proposes some ways forward in stimulating and structuring interdisciplinary research on business-to-business electronic commerce. A ‘commerce-centered’ perspective is proposed that is grounded in concepts of commerce as a complex socio-economic institution. On this basis, a conceptual framework is developed for assessing the dynamics and impacts of electronic commerce in the value chains of products and services. The approach focuses on examining technical change in transaction structures, and how this relates to the evolution of electronically-mediated business relationships in the rapidly developing Internet environment. The approach is oriented towards critical research questions concerning the effects of electronic commerce on the ways various market participants exercise and/or respond to control over the organization and operation of value chains, and the implications for business, the public interest and policy. The practical research possibilities of the transaction structure approach are then discussed as oriented toward a comparative analytical framework.