Editor’s Introduction 13(3)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 13, Number 3, Spring 2009, pp. 5.

Enterprise systems, like all infrastructural technologies, are Janus-faced: They can lead to organizational rigidities, or they can generate options that can be exercised by the owner firm in the future. In the opening paper of the issue, Jahangir Karimi, Toni M. Somers, and Anol Bhattacherjee investigate empirically the circumstances under which the implementation of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can expand the scope of digital options available to the owner firm. Theory-based constructs reflecting the preconditions for such a strategic outcome center on organizational know-ledge and business-process fitness. An ERP implementation, with its mo-numental expense and risk, ought to generate valuable options for the firm’s future, and the results obtained by the authors should be helpful in this pragmatic task–as well as in future research on organizational e-commerce.

Mass customization is one of the essential capabilities of e-commerce. In B2C commerce, this capability also increases the complexity perceived by the consumer. What can be done to counteract this? Benedict G.C. Dellaert and Pratibha A. Dabholkar offer their empirical findings on the subject. They find that perceptions of enjoyment and control are instrumental in leading consumers toward the use of mass customization features. Among their practical suggestions, the authors recommend complementary on-line services, such as visualization, as a means to overcome the negative effects of the perceived complexity of mass customization.

The ways of compensating for the trust deficit inherent in on-line inte-ractions have been very actively researched. The next two papers address novel aspects of the subject. In the first, Katherine J. Stewart and Ross A. Malaga study how the links that lead the on-line consumer to a firm’s Web site affect the perception of the firm’s trustworthiness. Their research shows that these links create a context that has a priming effect. This important finding should lead firms to consider carefully the navigation routes through which their Web sites are reached. While some of this context may be beyond control, much of it can be controlled and, indeed, manipulated.

The empirical work of Sonja Utz, Uwe Matzat, and Chris Snijders is situated within the context of on-line auctions. The authors study the building and–what is of special interest–rebuilding of trust after an adverse incident. The means are the reputation systems that constitute the lasting relational capital of such sites as eBay. In particular, the authors find that appropriate short comments by a perceived trust violator can lead to the rebuilding of trust after an incident seen as a violation. The work leads to the helpful suggestions for the design of reputation systems by auction site operators.

The concluding paper in the issue deals with the requirements-analysis stage of Web site development. The authors, Min-Seok Pang, Woojong Suh, Jongho Kim, and Heeseok Lee, propose a benchmarking-based analysis methodology: The Web sites of competitors, or other firms of interest, are manifestly available to be used as benchmarks for a firm in its goal of con-tinually advancing its Web presence. The methodology is presented within the design science paradigm, in order to advance our knowledge of design in the Web context. A detailed example will serve well those who wish to adopt the methodology for their design practice and those who wish to further research Web site design.