Editor’s Introduction 17(1)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 17, Number 1, Fall 2012, pp. 5-10.

Co-creation of value by consumers, along with producers, has emerged as an important and growing phenomenon in e-commerce. With the Web–Internet compound, consumers have gained the means of production, distribution, effort coordination, and aggregation of digital products [1]. Likewise, producers—and the larger world—have gained access to the co-created content, be it open source software, knowledge compendia, or product reviews. With the proliferation of inexpensive mobile devices accessing shared cloud resources, and such trends as additive manufacturing capable of dispersing physical production, we may expect co-creation to gain force and redefine the marketplace relationships between consumers, producers, and intermediaries.

The three papers that open this issue of IJEC contribute to the co-creation research stream. In the first, Ina Garnefeld, Anja Iseke, and Alexander Krebs investigate the role of explicit incentives if provided in online communities. The work is important, as the communities experience a high degree of (economically justified) free riding and the gradual waning of activity by the initial contributors, both quite often leading to the community’s demise. As we know, a great variety of motivations provide an incentive to contribute to the work of these communities, ranging from decidedly intrinsic to fully extrinsic [1]. The authors argue for and move the discourse and their empirics toward the dichotomy of explicit and implicit motivations. Crowding-out theory indicates that explicit, or extrinsic, incentives may have a deleterious effect of undermining the otherwise perhaps stronger implicit (intrinsic and internalized extrinsic) motivations. The authors conduct a theory-based experiment to determine the role of explicit incentives in a large public online consumer community whose members answer the questions of others. Their findings show the short-term benefits of explicit incentives, yet long-term deleterious crowding out.

Two subsequent papers probe the effects of product reviews, a major component of electronic word of mouth (eWOM). Geng Cui, Hon-Kwong Lui, and Xiaoning Guo examine the effects of these reviews on the sales of new products. The independent variables here are the volume of reviews and of page views and the valence of reviews. The dependent variables are the sales of new products, in the search and experience categories. The platform is Amazon. com. Significant effects are discerned. The granular results obtained by the researchers will help in the launch campaigns of new products and to further the theoretical underpinnings of eWOM studies. The other work, by Ohyoon Kwon and Yongjun Sung, directs our attention to the fit between the framing of the reviews and the psychological makeup of the consumers-readers. Would independent-minded consumers, who seek to distinguish themselves from others (those with independent self-construal), respond more keenly to a product review stressing positive outcomes (a so-called promotion goal)? Would interdependent-minded consumers, who seek harmony with others, respond more favorably to a review allaying their fears about the product (a so-called prevention goal)? As do those in the preceding paper, the authors’ experiments reveal nuanced answers to these questions and offer fodder for further theory development and for marketing efforts.

As e-commerce pervades organizational practices, more attention has to be directed to the control over the organizational processes and applications aiming to deliver the desired outcomes. In the next paper of the issue, Shi-Ming Huang, Jing-Shiuan Hua, Hartmut Will, and Jhen-Wei Wu present a method for automatic auditing of e-processes, rooted in a metamodeling mechanism developed by the authors. The formal modeling and automatic testing aim to ensure that the stated requirements are satisfied and that there are no inconsistencies between the original design of process flows and their implementation. The authors offer a proof of concept by exercising a system prototype. Considering the velocity of change needed to respond to the environment in e-commerce, the use of an automatic auditing tool would be of great value in maintaining the integrity of the enterprise. It is hoped that this work will contribute to this objective.

The effectiveness of banner ads is often contested on numerous grounds. More, and deeper, research is therefore required to analyze this issue. Here, JooWon Lee and Jay-Hyeon Ahn deploy eye tracking to measure the level of attention to an ad and then follow this up by survey administration to gauge the effects of the ad exposure on the subjects’ memory and attitude. Rooted in the theories of cognitive processing, the work tests several well-grounded hypotheses, leading to actionable results. Among the more surprising ones are the deleterious effects of animation.

The opening of the new IJEC volume is the time to thank our referees, who— along with members of our Editorial Board—are the primary guarantors of the Journal’s quality. Here are their names.