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Title: A hermeneutic investigation of online consumer decision making
Authors: Cole, Melissa
Advisors: Paul, R
Keywords: Consumer behaviour;Consumer interface;Consumer perceptions;Online convenience;Surrogacy
Issue Date: 2005
Publisher: Brunel University, School of Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics
Abstract: This is a multidisciplinary information systems thesis with a strong sociological focus. Theoretically it uses the technical concerns of human-computer interaction as the background to consider the separate theories of consumer decision-making and the diffusion of innovations. Emphasis is placed on understanding how consumers make sense of the Internet and come to define the role and use of the Internet in their lives. A practical framework for hermeneutic investigation was created to access the unreflective thoughts and actions driving online consumer decision-making. Implicit within hermeneutics is the prospect of transcendental interpretations and the ability to investigate in situ new avenues of research that emerge as a result of anomalous comments or findings. Hence, this thesis presents two different, but inter-related, research inquiries and their associated findings. Initial interest was centred on consumer behaviour and interface design. Specifically, can a dedicated 'consumer interface' be designed using principles based on consumer perceptions of online convenience. The resulting data analysis created a framework of advice that interface designers can use to improve their understanding of the nature and limitations of convenient interfaces and associated consumer decision-support technologies. A second research theme emerged from the data analysis which broadened the focus into a consideration of online consumer behaviour as a distinct issue. Specifically, a new from of interactive behaviour prevalent in electronic retail markets was identified and, following a second literature review, labeled "surrogacy". Related in form to the personal shoppers found in traditional marketplaces, surrogacy differs from electronic intermediaries with regard to (i) the motivations of use and (ii) the symbolic and functional benefits of usage. The emergence of this phenomenon suggests that interactions between individuals (as consumers) and Web-based systems are maturing, albeit in a non-predictable manner. Together, the methodological refinements presented here with the accompanying research findings provide a reference point for further work in the following three areas: interface design for electronic marketplaces; Web-based consumer decision support technologies; and the development of interpretive approaches suitable for socio-technical investigations.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University, 16/06/2005.
Appears in Collections:Computer Science
Dept of Computer Science Theses

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