Editor’s Introduction 17(3)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 17, Number 3, Spring 2013, pp. 5-6.

The three papers that open this issue of the International Journal of Electronic Commerce present the investigations of various types of communities that underlie social commerce. The context of the first of these papers is innovation communities, the second paper focuses on brand communities, and the third paper is couched within the context of social network sites that give rise to communities. In the first paper, Christoph Riedl, Ivo Blohm, Jan Marco Leimeister, and Helmut Krcmar address the fundamental question of properly designing the scales the community members use to rate the content generated by others. Scale design is important in the collective co-creation of value, in this case, idea generation and evaluation, by a community. The researchers compare two scale designs: multicriteria scales versus single-criterion ones. Their experiments and the follow-up simulation surface significant differences in the effectiveness of these scales as expressed by the decision quality and in the users’ perception of the community site.

Brand communities are a vital nexus of marketing—when they are vibrant with members’ involvement. To achieve high levels of participation, a community (or its sponsor) needs to attract the right kind of member. What is the right kind of community member? This is the question addressed by Aihwa Chang, Sara H. Hsieh, and Frances Lin. Using a theoretically grounded personality model adapted to consumer behavior, the authors examine via survey research the traits of community members that lead to the intention to send and receive information. The results are of value in the development of the theory of consumer behavior in co-creation, as well as of pragmatic significance to corporate community sponsors and marketers.

The next paper extends the theme of personality role in brand communities. Iryna Pentina, Bashar S. Gammoh, Lixuan Zhang, and Michael Mallin also employ the survey method, in this case taking it further, in order to establish the role of the match between the user’s personality and that of the social network site (anthropomorphism here) in the preference for the brand utilizing the site. Taken together, the two brand-oriented papers offer significant links leading from the community members’ personality to their engagement with the community, network site, and the brand.

Kil-Soo Suh, Izak Benbasat, and Eung-Kyo Suh present their empirical research on the ability of the sellers in online auctions to differentiate themselves through listing options, thus following in the steps of Google AdWords advertisers in seeking prominence on the auction site. In a field experiment conducted on a public auction site, the researchers study the effects of featured listings as compared with the default regular ones. The theoretically motivated hypotheses are confirmed: regardless of the product price, products sold via featured listings receive more visits and bids and—most important—realize higher prices. The result is of particular value to the sellers of more expensive products that justify featuring, as well as to the auction site offerors. Once again, the early fears (or hopes) of price uniformity on the Web have been gainsaid.

The determinants of e-commerce adoption by franchise networks are the subject of the research reported by Rozenn Perrigot and Thierry Pénard. Adopting the resource-based view, these authors study the factors leading franchisees in the retail and service segments to transact their business via Web sites. Consistent with theory-based expectations, the larger franchises as well as those with higher percentages of franchisor-owned stores have moved more aggressively into e-commerce transacting, with the older franchises frequently lagging. This is a valuable contribution to an underresearched area.