CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

Perceptual Organization of eCommerce Risks Among Consumer: A Cross-Country Study

Date of Award

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Easwar Nyshadham

Committee Member

William L. Hafner

Committee Member

Ling Wang

Abstract

The purpose of this dissertation was to examine how consumers perceptually organize the risks that are associated with business-to-consumer (B2C) buying and selling of goods and services through the Internet. Prior studies did not focus on risk per se, but dealt mainly with the impact of the risks on eCommerce adoption. The existing studies assumed that the dimensions on which risks are rated are obvious to the respondents. However, electronic (eCommerce) related risks are new to the typical consumer, so, it is not yet known how consumers judge the risks. The Schema Theory states that people use generic concepts, schemata (mental structures), to organize risk perceptions in their memory. In this research, it is assumed that consumers have a schema for risk unto which online risks are embedded. Using the psychometric paradigm, respondents were asked to judge the riskiness of various risk objects in a pair-wise fashion using a similarity/dissimilarity scale, e.g., how dissimilar is Risk-object I to Risk-object 2 on a scale of I to 7? The collected data were analyzed using a Multidimensional Scaling (MDS) technique to infer the set of dimensions across which respondents evaluate risks. The data collection method and analysis aided in answering two research questions: a) the dimensions consumers use when they judge online risks, and, b) how risk perceptions differ across customers from two countries.

The study found that consumers employ a fine-grained schema to distinguish and group risks in their minds, characterize risks with more than two dimensions, and that none of the dimensions can be interpreted as pure probability or pure value. Analysis suggests that in judging online risks, subjects use three dimensions in general: familiar versus unfamiliar risk, known versus unknown, eVendor-trustieVendor distrust. Analysis suggests that differences exist in how U.S. and Nigerian subjects view online risks. For instance, on a ratio of 4 to I, the average U.S. e-consumer considered eVendor risk a major issue than the average Nigerian e-consumer. On the other hand, the average Nigerian e-consumer judged familiarity with the eCommerce risk of a major concern on a ratio of 4 to 2 than the average U.S. e-consumer.

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