Date of Award

12-2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Management

Advisor

Grover, Varun

Committee Member

Thatcher , Jason B.

Committee Member

Moore , D. DeWayne

Abstract

A conspicuous paradox is evident in the statistics concerning purchases over the internet. While a majority of the US population uses the internet to seek product information for purchasing decisions, less than two percent of actual retail sales occur on the Internet. To explain this small ratio of e-channel choice for purchase, a comprehensive model that extends DeLone and McLean's (2004) e-commerce success model was developed. The model centers on the importance of perceived information quality and its relationship to e-channel choice as a purchasing channel. Using the overarching theoretical frame of motivation, two questions were examined: (a) what influences consumers' perception of the quality of information in e-channels, and (b) how information quality influences the consumers' choice of e-channels in purchasing products. Four constructs, based on dimensions of communication theories, are put forward to be important determinants in consumers' perception of information quality in e-channels, which ultimately shape their decision to purchase over the internet. Telepresence and screening capability in the message dimension, and channel trust in receiver dimension are theorized to positively affect perceived information quality. It is also hypothesized that as consumers experience higher levels of cognitive overhead as they use the internet, this will negatively impact perceived information quality in e-channels. Since telepresence is potentially the most manipulative among these factors through current web technologies, this study further investigates its antecedents. Based on human information processing styles, standardization of specification, sensory descriptiveness, feedback quality, and interactivity are presented as technological design elements to increase telepresence. The methodology used combined survey and a quasi-experiment, where several important parameters of the experiment were controlled to measure the research model. Several pilot studies were conducted to validate the quasi-experimental design and construct measurement. Analysis using structured equation modeling on a useable sample frame of 309 students provided support that perceived information quality has a positive effect on consumers' choice of e-channels over physical channels for product purchase. Support was found for all factors to information quality and telepresence except feedback quality's effect on telepresence. Overall, this study presents a framework of e-channel choice that combines motivation theory with the e-commerce success model, and enables better understanding of online consumer behavior. A common belief about the inadequacy of experience goods for electronic transaction is challenged. The results of this study provide insight into the pivotal role of information quality in addressing performance risk, thereby shedding a light on what makes consumers to use e-channels mostly as an information source rather than a purchasing point. Information quality is revealed as a key link between the evaluation aspects of the information search stage and the purchasing aspects of the choice stage. Four effective levers to increase information quality are identified, and telepresence is identified as the most promising tool to increase perceived information quality.

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