Online shopping, activity fragmentation and multi-tasking
Elms, Jonathan and Jouan de Kervenoael, Ronan and Canning, Catherine (2011) Online shopping, activity fragmentation and multi-tasking. In: 18th Recent Advances in Retailing & Services Science Conference, San Diego, USA
The significance of online communities (Muniz and O’Guinn, 2001) has spawned new lines of academic research across social sciences. Academic research on e-communities have found that they are (i) creating a parallel source of information for customers and (ii) more credible than the marketers’ message being supported by what is called “the wisdom of the crowd”, i.e beyond the control of the firm. Much less theoretical attention has been given to understanding the practices associated with travel blogs (Pan et al., 2007; Akehurst, 2009). A specific gap in the literature appears regarding the under-developed appreciation of the changing market conditions and ascendance of new or different institutional actors – the blogs- in the provision of travel information. Through these online communities, users and new institutional actors are gaining power (Newell, 2003) and could become key in shaping the decision process by challenging and contesting established travel institutions (e.g. travel agents and guide books) (Haugtvedt et al., 2005). These online communities represent a key transformation in the market but also great opportunities to challenge traditional conventions providing a novel basis for judging the (in)appropriateness of acts by self and other and most of all for judging the inertia inherently present in this ‘old’ institutionalised industry. Still it is important to note that these changes are not uncontested with controversy and contention over information legitimacy, bitter rivalry over the dominant logic and entrenched market conventions (e.g see the airline industry -disclaimers, insurance, quality standards -) present in many key areas of the industry such as seen with the debate associated with low cost airline and landing rights (Brown (1991), Barkin et al. (1995), Graham and Volwes (2006) and Jarach, 2002). The context chosen for this paper is travel social networks and in particular the Peer-to-Peer virtual communities such as blogs and forums. Virtual communities have been the object of quite a few studies and are defined by a gathering of people linked by common interests and using online technology to communicate (Rheingold, 1994). The quick development of such communities, have has been found to provide members with (i) the opportunity to dialogue (Casalo et al. 2008), (ii) share knowledge with each other (Hsu et al., 2007) and (iii) provide a flow of constant updated information free of market driven strategies (Biggart and Blemish, 2003). As Such, knowledge sharing has been defined by Usoro et al. (2007) as the process of communication between two or more participants involving the provision and acquisition of knowledge. The literature identified various antecedents for knowledge sharing: personal interests (the Economic Exchange Theory), individual characteristics such as propensity to trust (Hsu et al., 2007), relational capital i.e. members’ commitment and reciprocity in the sharing (Casalo et al., 2008), desire of reputation (Wasko and Faraj, 2005; Kwok and Gao, 2004; Lee et al., 2006; Hendriks, 1999) and mere enjoyment of doing it (Hsu and Lin, 2008). Among all these antecedents, trust is the most important one because it can overcome the barriers to knowledge sharing such as the fear of no reciprocity, the fear of losing face or one’s low self-confidence in the quality of one’s knowledge. Blogs in that sense provide the distinction between prescriptive knowledge found in books and institutions’ manuals/strategies documents and knowing through real experience.
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