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Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail: Empirical Analysis of a Digital Commons

International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Vol.10, No. 4, pp. 143-168, 2006

Posted: 24 Oct 2008  

Nigel P. Melville

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Aaron Stevens

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Robert K. Plice

San Diego State University

Oleg V. Pavlov

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) - Department of Social Science & Policy Studies

Date Written: July 1, 2006

Abstract

Unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE) is a significant problem of the digital commons, but there has been little empirical analysis of proposed solutions and underlying mechanisms. This study, based on an analysis of 47 million inbound e-mail messages drawn from a cross-section of e-mail inbox owners over a one-year period, characterizes resource overuse in the e-mail commons. The absence of a growth trend in UCE message volume raises questions about the sampling methodologies underlying media reports about spam. The distribution of UCE messages reveals a cyclical trend, peaking in mid-week and subsiding on weekends, that can be explained in part by the trend of regular e-mail messages-an unanticipated finding given the difference between UCE and ordinary email communication. Ruling out technological constraints and workweek conventions, the study suggests that these co-varying patterns come about because UCE senders strategically exploit the unique features of the on-line commons, including instantaneous feedback, information transparency, identity misrepresentation, and technological progress. Analysis of these properties can lead to improved management of the digital commons.

Keywords: Attention endowment, Box-Jenkins, common-pool resource,digital commons, exclusion, e-mail marketing, IS management, rival, spam,time series, UCE

Suggested Citation

Melville, Nigel P. and Stevens, Aaron and Plice, Robert K. and Pavlov, Oleg V., Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail: Empirical Analysis of a Digital Commons (July 1, 2006). International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Vol.10, No. 4, pp. 143-168, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1288276

Nigel P. Melville (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

HOME PAGE: http://webuser.bus.umich.edu/npmelv/

Aaron Stevens

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Robert K. Plice

San Diego State University ( email )

San Diego, CA 92182-0763
United States

Oleg V. Pavlov

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) - Department of Social Science & Policy Studies ( email )

100 Institute Road
Worcester, MA 01609
United States
508-831-5234 (Phone)
508-831-5892 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://users.wpi.edu/~opavlov/

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