Emergent Technology Use in Consumer Decision Journeys: A Process-as-Propensity Approach

Fei Liu

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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Statement of the Problem/Background:
Empowered by rapid advances in Business-to-Consumer (B2C) digital infrastructure, consumers are be-ginning to follow an increasingly convoluted path when making purchase decisions for products and ser-vices. They use technologies on B2C match-making platforms to guide their decision journeys in ways that are neither premeditated nor intended. This emergent technology use has remained poorly under-stood within extant literature due to the implicit assumption that consumers adhere to well-defined deci-sion-making processes in which the effectiveness of technologies remains constant regardless of how they are used.

Research Question/Hypothesis:
How do consumers engage in emergent use of the technologies on B2C match-making platforms during their decision journeys?

Research Design and Methods Used in the Investigation:
In this thesis, behavioral analytics, as conceptualized in the computational social sciences field, was em-ployed to empirically validate hypothesized relationships. Process modeling was combined with econo-metrics to analyze emergent technology usage behavior that was embedded in event log data. Essay 1 is devoted to a field experiment conducted with the goal of examining the emergent use of search features on a custom-made restaurant review platform. Three hundred and seventy-seven crowdworkers were recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk to participate in the experiment. Essay 2 is an investigation of consumers’ emergent use of platform features based on an analysis of a secondary cruise-booking dataset provided by a major travel-planning platform. This dataset contains 117,218 records of bookings made by 74,557 consumers between 2015 and 2017.

Results/Summary of the Investigation:
The results show that consumers adjust their emergent search strategies to take advantage of the search features that enable them to find the most desirable restaurants. The effectiveness of each emergent search strategy in economizing the costs and maximizing the benefits of a search depends on the goal specificity of the search task. Likewise, consumers make emergent use of eWOM and the cross-channel access provided by travel-planning platforms to rebook their trips. How consumers change their previous bookings can be leveraged to predict whether they will switch companies. Additionally, consumers who rebook appear to be less likely to abandon their purchases and more likely to share their experiences via eWOM.

Interpretation/Conclusion of the Investigation:
The results of this investigation showed that consumers’ emergent technology use is indeed enabled by digital generativities. Moreover, the attention allocation propensity that drives consumers’ emergent use of technologies is the key to predicting the outcome of a consumer decision journey. Future studies can leverage the process-as-propensity approach advanced in this thesis to theorize emergent technology use in various contexts, including those of digital innovation and mixed reality. Empirical findings from this thesis can yield insights for enhancing service marketing and platformization in relation to consumers’ increasingly emergent decision journeys.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherCopenhagen Business School [Phd]
Number of pages211
ISBN (Print)9788793956865
ISBN (Electronic)9788793956872
Publication statusPublished - 2021
SeriesPhD series

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