The Special Section on information and technology that opens this issue of the Journal shows once again the intimate relationship between the deployment of information technology (IT) and the operation of modern firms, business networks, and markets. The strategies of many organizations are fundamentally predicated on IT; the strategies of others are dependent on it. The firms that act in the space of digital---or digitizable---content are in the seek mode, as they encroach one another’s business models, attempt to create engaged customer communities, and rebrand themselves in the business universe of the ever-more rapid change. All companies and other organizations redevelop---or need to---their business processes to garner the opportunities and to respond to the threats occasioned by the IT-based ways of doing business. The papers of the Special Section run the gamut of settings: information diffusion in virtual communities, effects of à la carte airline pricing, global supply chain management, innovation strategies by IT firms, electronic procurement channels, and platform-based two-sided marketplaces. Our field has developed, adapted, and adopted a rich array of research methods to carry out the studies, and they are demonstrated here. The Guest Editors of the Special Section, Eric K. Clemons, Robert J. Kauffman, and Thomas A. Weber, introduce each of the papers and their research methodologies to you.
The general section of the issue begins with the paper by Ken H. Guo, Yufei Yuan, Norman P. Archer, and Catherine E. Connelly that empirically investigates workplace security violations related to information systems (IS). The focus here is on the motivations of end users who commit nonmalicious---but knowing---violations. The authors present a theory-based multifaceted model, whose validation surfaces the key determinants of the user intentions to engage in such behavior. Once such fine-grained understanding of these rather rife violations is reached, with some quite potent potential motivators eliminated from consideration as the result of this research, the authors are able to provide effective and efficient guidelines for organizational practice.
Virtual communities are the principal locus of value co-creation by consumers. As the community members (also known as consumers in some settings) share information and build up the community’s aggregated knowledge stock, the value is being created. The arrogation of this value is a---big---question for another day. What matters here is that the value created depends on the quality of information contributed. There are various means of inducing higher quality of comments and discouraging or eliminating the lower-quality ones. In the next paper, Jianqing Chen, Hong Xu, and Andrew B. Whinston study the effects of moderation in the communities where the principal motivation of contributors is achieving high reputation. The moderators serve as filters and the keepers of the gate opening to the reputational tokens (such as karma points). Using formal analysis, the authors show that the use of moderators leads to improved quality of information shared by its contributors. The authors offer further results regarding the effects of the frequency and quality of moderation, thus presenting a comprehensive picture of one path to quality of user-generated content in virtual communities.
Andreas I. Nicolaou and D. Harrison McKnight use the setting of electronic data exchanges, that is, business-to-business marketplaces, to study the effectiveness of the IT features leading to information transparency and providing outcome feedback. Even more important, the authors address a broader question: Do the design features of an exchange (or of any major IS) have the same effect at two different points in time, say, at the initiation, and then two weeks later? The authors address the question empirically and arrive at results that make a significant contribution to the way we should study IS going forward. These results tell us to not arrive at conclusions about the effectiveness of an IS on the basis of a single snapshot of its use.
Standardization is necessary for progress in e-commerce. It is also the domain of opportunistic behavior that can lead to highly suboptimal results. The study of motivators that drive firms to participate in the consortia that develop e-commerce standards is therefore of the moment. Here, Kexin Zhao, Mu Xia, and Michael J. Shaw present an empirical study of the drivers, based on their model grounded in the collective action theory. By testing the model, the authors offer their conclusions as to the factors that lead the member firms to provide resources for the operation of the consortia. Notably, the interests of consortia members and the users diverge, and the authors’ research should help in seeking out the common ground.