Editor’s Introduction 13(1)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 13, Number 1, Fall 2008, pp. 5.

Abstract: We live in the age of intensifying globalization, but business initiatives are most often launched within a local or multilocal context. The advantages and limitations of the locality with respect to the launching of e-commerce and other initiatives based on information and communication technologies (ICT), and to using these technologies for economic and social benefit, are captured by the metric known as e-readiness, recently available for 70 countries [1]. E-readiness aims to measure both the quality of the ICT supply and the quality of demand (or absorption capabilities) for technology-based initiatives. The metric is thus defined on the basis of a nation-state and measures–as billed–readiness, rather than impact. In the paper that opens the present issue of IJEC, Robert J. Kauffman and Ajay Kumar present an econometric model that enables the measurement of actual ICT impacts on various areas of economic activity, such as industry and healthcare. It can be deployed at various level of analysis, such as a city, a country, or a region. Moreover, the model accounts for the interrelationships among the domains of economic activity. The authors exercise the model and show that, notwithstanding its present limitations, it is capable of bearing significant results in assessing the impacts of ICT. This work will undoubtedly be built upon in the future.

Three subsequent papers in the issue investigate different aspects of in-dividual behavior in e-commerce. Corey M. Angst, Ritu Agarwal, and Jason Kuruzovich study the individual traits associated with early exit from on-line auctions via the buy-it-now option, which often results in a higher price than would have been reached in the auction. The authors use actual auction data and survey the bidders with a theory-based instrument. The results contribute to behavioral economics and will have a practical bearing on the design of electronic auctions, now challenged by fixed-price offerings.

Social networks are increasingly found to be weighty determinants of individual behavior. Chieh-Peng Lin and Anol Bhattacherjee investigate empirically the role of network externalities in the individual’s intention to use interactive technologies. The authors unpack several aspects of these network effects to obtain a richer view of their impact on the breadth and depth of service adoption, which they evaluate in the context of instant messaging. Their results relating to the potential of complementary services, for example, are a useful guideline for service providers.

The ‘one-click away’ doctrine of consumers roaming widely on the Web in a search for a better deal is a foundational notion of e-tail. Bo-chiuan Su examines it more closely, investigating the extent of price search, nonprice product information search, and merchant search as conditioned by the interface through which users perform searches. The author shows the con-ditions under which the search is quite limited, with prospective consumers targeting a given sales outlet a priori. He also pinpoints the circumstances under which the consumption would not be consummated owing to the tedium of the search. This work has direct pragmatic implications for de-signers of the e-tail experience.

In the concluding paper of the issue, Chun-I Fan and Yu-Kuang Liang present a fair transaction protocol for payments with electronic cash. The protocol innovatively combines several desirable properties–it ensures anonymity of the payer (as behooves e-cash), fairness (both sides to the transaction receiving its effects), a great deal of independence from the underlying e-cash scheme, and the efficiency of implementation when a trusted third party is involved. The protocol deals with money laundering enabled by the payer’s anonymity, but requires that the product be nonconsumable (and thus is suitable for digital products). Although e-cash has not become the favored payment mechanism in e-commerce, ‘as yet’ may be apposite here.