Editor’s Introduction 16(1)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 16 Number 1, Fall 2011, pp. 5.

E-commerce (EC) standards for various industries are developed in the main by vertical standard consortia in a lengthy process that is challenged by the divergence of the members’ interests and the continuing evolution of the underlying technologies. The long-term sustainability of the consortia, while highly desirable for the overall body of members and the industry, is at times threatened. What are the factors that affect this sustainability? This is the re- search question asked in the first paper of this IJEC issue. Kexin Zhao, Sarah S. Khan, and Mu Xia study the consortia as communities of practice and, by applying this lens to the resource-based view of social structures, develop a dynamic sustainability framework for these consortia. Multiple cases are used as the empirical grounding of this multilevel framework that spans industry, consortium, and member characteristics. Considering such remarkable results of industry consortia as the Universal Product Code, the present work deserves continuation through extensive empirical testing.

Knowledge-sharing Web sites, such as Yahoo! Answers, accumulate large stocks of knowledge contributed over time by users (generally with the largest benefit going to the aggregator). Some of the sites are general knowledge oriented; others focus on a niche. The life span of the accumulated knowledge differs for different types of sites. New challengers keep emerging in this space. The question Kihoon Kim and Edison Tse ask in the next paper is, How long can the established leader, with the most comprehensive knowledge base and largest membership, sustain that position? Treating the sites as two-sided markets of questioners and answerers, the authors offer a formal game-theoretic analysis, supported by simulation, that allows them to offer conclusions regarding the survival chances of latecomers and the optimal initial subsidies to the users needed for that survival.

Brands are a powerful means of success in e-tail. This—by now—established result is being reinforced by the research in the context of keyword search, reported here by Bernard J. Jansen, Kate Sobel, and Mimi Zhang. The authors’ lens is signaling theory. By analyzing voluminous data logs from search engine marketing campaigns, the authors find that use of brand names in the key phrases and advertisements leads to higher revenue and higher efficiency, that is, it generates that revenue at the lowest cost. The work offers not only valuable insights into the design of promotional campaigns but also an empirical confirmation of brand value in the EC context.

Two concluding papers in the issue deal with the design and effects of recommenders. In the first of them, Kyoung-jae Kim and Hyunchul Ahn present a novel design for recommenders that combines collaborative filtering with genetic algorithms. The approach alleviates the weaknesses of collaborative filtering, such as scalability in the face of the large and growing user space and sparsity of ratings, which are few even for popular products. The authors experiment with their method on two open data sets and thus demonstrate the superiority of their approach, which certainly warrants further empirical investigation. In some systems, the use of recommenders is up to the consumers. Would they reuse these aids? Jaewon Choi, Hong Joo Lee, and Yong Cheol Kim empirically study this question in the context of social presence, that is, the degree to which a personal relationship appears to be established with other users. The authors find that greater social presence increases the reuse of the recommender and the trust in its recommendations, both for hedonic products and, to a lesser degree, for utilitarian ones. The work has clear implications for the design of e-tail environments.

As we open the 16th volume of IJEC, thanks are due to our reviewers, who are, together with our Editorial Board, the primary guarantors of the Journal’s quality. Here are their names.