Editor’s Introduction 23(4)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 23, Number 4, 2019, pp. 451-452.

Value co-creation by users is an encompassing phenomenon of the contemporary Internet, with many and various components and motivations [1]. Articulations on social media are a prominent part of it. The greater the engagement and the lasting commitment of the users of a social media platform, the more extensive the breadth, depth, and reach of information sharing among them, the more successful can the platform be. Information sharing among users produces content, a commodity subject to mining, possibly trading, and driving the monetizing third-party messages, also known as advertising. This sharing also feeds back to enhance the engagement and the lasting commitment to the site. Not only that. Among the benefits of a greater information sharing on the organizational social media sites may be a better performance of the host firm, co-creation of value with the customers, tighter collaboration with the firm’s other external stakeholders, and heightened esprit de corps of the firm’s employees. As with all the Internet-related phenomena, the darker sides may show themselves as well. The antecedents and the motivations behind the user behavior that co-creates value for the platforms is, therefore, of interest not only to the researchers but to the practitioners as well. Two papers that open this issue of IJEC investigate this information sharing.

The authors of the first paper, Xiaolin Lin, Saonee Sarker, and Mauricio Featherman, present a comprehensive model of information-sharing behavior on social media. The novelty of their approach is the inclusion of the psychological factors that guide people’s decision-making in the articulation and disclosure on social media. Combined with the social capital theory deployed by the authors, this leads to a richer and a better-grounded picture of the information-sharing attitudes and motivations that we had before, and to the suggestions for the offerors of social media sites.

A different aspect of value co-creation by a category of users is researched by Min Zhang, Xitong Guo, and Tianshi Wu. A certain type of online healthcare communities are platforms on which doctors connect with patients and offer free advice, along with paid service. Why would they? The authors show, within the context of such a community, the spillover from the free advice-giving on a Q&A forum used by the community into the private benefits the doctors garner from their paid services. The researchers offer more granular results on the relationship between the free contributions and private benefits accruing to the doctors with various rankings.

The two works show that value co-creation phenomenon by users occupies a wide spectrum of content, activities, and motivations, which we are only beginning to understand in all its richness. As the infusion of artificial intelligence will increasingly challenge jobs and entire categories of occupations, co-creation will become increasingly important in not only changing the way work is defined but also providing livelihoods and the meaning to lives. Our field is well positioned to contribute to this understanding.

As Amazon does, so do many other large retail platforms: The reselling of products by the platform owner is accompanied by so-called agency selling by the retailers that are accommodated on the platform. In the cases of some of the products offered, the agency sellers directly compete with the reseller (i.e., the platform). Of course, agency selling increases the footprint of the platform and leverages the platform’s own investment. What is then the total effect of agency selling on reselling? Qi Li, Quansheng Wang, and Peijian Song present a formal economic analysis of these hybrid platforms. The dominant conclusion is that agency selling has a cumulative positive effect on reselling. Several more nuanced results allow the authors to offer sound advice to the platform owners while contributing to our knowledge of multisided markets.

The two concluding papers of the issue further our knowledge about online reviews, another component of user co-creation of value. This well-researched domain now calls for more refined contributions that qualify the interaction between the reviews and their intended recipients. The first of the works, by Jiaming Fang, Lixue Hu, Md Altab Hossin, Jingjing Yang, and Yunfei Shao, carries the title of “polluted online reviews.” This should pique your interest, as the authors show the effects of the air quality on the ratings and reviews posted by consumers. In a theory-grounded econometric analysis, the authors are able to show that the days of high air pollution bring out more negative reviews (on a restaurant-review site). The study pioneers in helping us see how the environmental factors affect and potentially bias what becomes a lasting body of opinion about a business.

Jieun Lee and Ilyoo B. Hong look at the other side of the reviewing, the reception by the reader of the opinions. The authors study the factors that influence the adoption by a consumer of a review produced by an unknown individual. The theoretical perspective of the authors is that of trust transfer. An unknown reviewer is trusted or not by the consumer based on the trust evoked by the factors that surround the review. Here, the authors find empirically the role of the given community of reviewers in the process of trust transfer from the review site to a specific reviewer. The practical advice to the review platforms suggests the honing of the entire body of the reviewers who are active on the site.


Zwass, V. Co-creation: Toward a taxonomy and an integrated research perspective. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 15, 1 (Fall 2010), 1148.