Introduction to the Special Section: Social Aspects, Control, and Strategic Models in the Networked Economy

Yao-Hua Tan and Douglas R. Vogel, Guest Editors
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 10, Number 2, Winter 2005-06, pp. 5.

In the networked economy, the nature of the business relationships between companies and their customers is of crucial importance. In many cases, on-line relationships are still not fully understood. In particular, it is still not clear to what extent they are similar to or different from business relationships in the off-line world. Awareness of the social context and presence of the business partners plays an important role in business relations. However, little is known yet about how to embody these aspects in a Web site. Similarly, control and governance mechanisms are crucial for the success of a business relation, but it is far from obvious whether the existing mechanisms are adequate for on-line relations, where buyers and sellers are so elusive. It is often not clear how strategic models developed for off-line business relations can be applied to on-line relations. The four articles comprising this Special Section address these developments and thus reflect current and central concerns in the field of electronic commerce.

In the first paper, “Internet Privacy Concerns and Social Awareness as Determinants of Intention to Transact,” Tamara Dinev and Paul Hart investigate the impact of on-line social awareness on the individual’s Internet privacy concerns and intention to transact on the Internet. On-line social awareness is understood as a social process of communication and transactions between one person and other persons over the networked environment. The empirical results of this study show that one’s on-line social awareness mitigates one’s Internet privacy concerns. Furthermore, it shows that one’s Internet privacy concerns inhibit one’s intention to transact on the Internet. Thus an important practical implication of this research is that on-line social awareness is a key determinant of on-line purchasing.

In the second paper “The Impact of Infusing Social Presence in the Web Interface: An Investigation Across Product Types,” Khaled Hassanein and Milena Head investigate the impact of social presence at Web sites on willingness to purchase on-line. The results of their study show that higher levels of social presence have varying effects depending on the product being sold on-line. Web sites selling apparel (a product for which consumers seek fun and entertaining shopping experiences) benefit from higher levels of social presence, whereas Web sites selling headphones (a product for which consumers primarily seek detailed product information) do not exhibit a positive transactional effect from higher levels of social presence.

In the third paper “Toward a Modeling Tool for Designing Control Mechanisms for Network Organizations,” Vera Kartseva, Jaap Gordijn, and Yao-Hua Tan propose the e3-control design methodology for designing controls for network organizations. The methodology supports three steps: (1) design of an interorganizational value-exchange model of a network, (2) analysis of interorganizational control problems within the network (i.e., analysis of possible violations of contractual obligations related to the value model), and (3) design of control mechanisms to detect or prevent such control problems. The applicability of the e3-control design methodology is illustrated with the analysis and control design of a case in the electricity industry in Europe. This industry is being fundamentally restructured because of the liberalization of the electricity market, and therefore European control and governance mechanisms have to be completely redesigned.

In the fourth paper “Multi-Channel Strategies: Capturing and Exploring Diversity in the European Retail Grocery Industry,” Claas Müller-Lankenau, Kai Wehmeyer, and Stefan Klein investigate the diversity of multi-channel strategies in the European retail grocery industry. They have developed a classification of multi-channel strategies based on an analysis of 25 European retail grocers’ on-line activities. Two factors that are expected to influence multi-channel strategy choice-the retailer’s general marketing strategy and the structures of the national market-are studied in respect to their potential to explain the diversity captured in the classification of multi-channel strategies.

All four papers were selected from the accepted papers of the review process of the seventeenth Bled Electronic Commerce Conference. The second paper received the best paper award of the conference. A selection from the top-ranking papers from this conference subsequently went through an additional journal-level review process. Based on these latter reviews, all the papers were significantly revised and expanded.

YAO-HUA TAN ( is professor of electronic business in the Department of Economics and Business Administration of the Vrije University Amsterdam and was the Reynolds Visiting Professor at the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests are virtual relationship building in business-to-business electronic commerce, the role of trust as facilitator for company participation in electronic commerce, ICT-enabled electronic negotiation and contracting, and use of artificial intelligence techniques to enable automation of business procedures in international trade.

DOUGLAS R. VOGEL ( is professor (chair) of information systems at the City University of Hong Kong and an AIS Fellow. His research interests bridge the business and academic communities in addressing questions about the impact of management information systems on aspects of interpersonal communication, group problem solving, cooperative learning, and multi-cultural team productivity. He was ranked third in a journal report of top researchers on group support systems and tenth in a worldwide list of top researchers on MIS as well as fourth on the list of most collaborative information systems researchers. Professor Vogel is especially active in introducing group support technology into enterprises and educational systems, and is researching mobile commerce and mobile e-learning applications.