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

See all articles by Nigel P. Melville

Nigel P. Melville

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business; University of Michigan, College of Engineering

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://www.nigelpmelville.com/

University of Michigan, College of Engineering ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI
United States

HOME PAGE: http://isd.engin.umich.edu/graduate-degree-programs/design-science/

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

HOME PAGE: http://www.olegpavlov.org

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