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Researchers Synthesize Gaps Found in Academic Literature to Promote New Research


June 4th, 2014

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Gaps in academic literature focusing on computer-mediated environments have been synthesized to offer potential for new research and design models.

Milton F. Stauffer Professor of Information Technology and Strategy Paul A. Pavlou, of Temple University’s Fox School of Business, and Macy’s Foundation Professor Manjit S. Yadav, of Texas A&M University, organized and synthesized academic research around four key interactions in CMEs: consumer-firm, firm-consumer, consumer-consumer and firm-firm.

Pavlou and Yadav synthesized 124 articles from four widely recognized journals — Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Marketing Science and Journal of Consumer Research — into specialized topics to identify gaps by juxtaposing current research with marketplace practices and emerging trends.

“Of course, in any literature, there are gaps.” Pavlou said. “This type of literature is very broad, and it’s natural for people to focus on what’s interesting and timely. That’s why there are gaps.”

Gaps found in consumer-firm interactions indicate the needs to understand that there are new shopping contexts that may be useful for categorization and research. The gaps also suggest that the structure of consumers’ shopping funnel — a large number of choices winnowed down to a final selection — needs to be examined more closely.

Furthermore, as little is known about how consumers navigate and integrate information from various types of devices and interfaces in CMEs, finer process models need to be developed, which would enhance consumer-firm interactions.

There are also gaps in theory development opportunities that affect firm-consumer interactions. In order to fill this, enhanced consumer visibility, which will allow firms to capture and detail consumers’ activities in CMEs, needs to be given a more central role in theory development. In doing so, a more integrated view can be provided of firms’ marketing activities across online and offline environments.

In terms of consumer-consumer interaction, gaps related to the growing interest in social commerce as well as the shift in the type of content generation that occurs in social networks need to be addressed. These gaps pave the way for three main avenues for theory development.

First, social commerce needs to be clarified to include purchase and non-purchase activities in social networks. Second, understanding the creation, consumption and dissemination of content in social networks should be an important priority. Third, theoretical work is needed that delineates the costs and benefits of consumers’ investments of time and effort on social media.

In order to address the gaps found in firm-firm interactions, research needs to focus more closely on concepts such as external and internal coordination that are important to transaction costs analysis and agency theory. This is because of the inter-organizational shifts due to emerging intermediaries in business-to-busines marketplaces, platform-based competition, and new types of reverse auctions.

By synthesizing literature, Pavlou and Yadav also yielded suggestions to develop methodological innovations as it pertains to new data, new designs and new models.

“Multiple parties can benefit from this research,” Pavlou said. “I see graduate students, PhD students and novices in the area getting the most benefit. It’s easier for them to read over a synthesis versus trying to synthesize over 100 papers to find gaps on their own.”

Pavlou and Yadav’s article, Marketing in Computer-Mediated Environments: Research Synthesis and New Directions, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Marketng, an A journal.

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