Editor’s Introduction 5(4)

Vladimir Zwass
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 5, Number 4, Summer 2001, pp. 3.

Abstract: In the past few years, we have realized that e-commerce is not creating a new world even as it is changing the old one, is not creating a new economy to bury the old one even as it is transforming many aspects of the global economy, and that the pace at which real change will take place is not set by dot-coms. In contradiction to some earlier claims, particularly those coming from the equities industry, e-commerce is subject to quite traditional economic laws-so long as we can interpret them in the new context. That task is not easy. Many of those who will be undertaking it in the future will find the paper by Robert Kauffman and Eric Walden, which opens and magisterially dominates this issue, of great help and guidance. The authors offer a thoroughgoing analytical survey of the present state of economic research on e-commerce. Beyond that, they map out promising directions for future work in the domain. Considering that a (senior) undergraduate textbook on the economics of network industries, including Internet-based ones, has just appeared [1], we are in for many fascinating developments in the field. Kauffman and Walden rightly stress the synergies among the multiple business-school disciplines that will contribute to the work. Indeed, their paper will serve as a road map for this multidisciplinary research.

In the second paper of the issue, Albert Lederer, Dinesh Mirchandani, and Kenneth Sims investigate the strategic aims that firms pursue through their Web sites. Using a rigorous method, they find that firms are after a rather limited set of objectives from the overall spectrum of possibilities. Difficult as it is to establish competitive advantage with information technology, the task is even less promising if the horizon is narrowed. The Web emerges here as a means of improving customer relations.

The final paper of the issue, by David Griffith, Robert Krampf, and Jonathan Palmer, in a way complements the preceding one. In B2C e-commerce, the Web is in many ways an alternative to print catalogs. The authors use a theoretically grounded method to compare the level of consumer involvement with a Web-based as opposed to print catalog. The results show that measures need to be taken to compensate for the inherent advantages of the print medium in stimulating consumer involvement.

Reference Shy, O. The Economics of Network Industries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.