Swift Guanxi in Online Marketplaces: The Role of Computer-Mediated Communication Technologies

MIS Quarterly (2014), 38 (1), 209-230

Fox School of Business Research Paper No. 14-002

25 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2013 Last revised: 31 Dec 2016

See all articles by Carol Xiaojuan Ou

Carol Xiaojuan Ou

Tilburg University

Paul A. Pavlou

Temple University - Department of Management Information Systems; Temple University - Department of Strategic Management

Robert Davison

City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK)

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

The concept of guanxi (i.e., a close and pervasive interpersonal relationship) has received little attention in the literature on online marketplaces, perhaps due to their impersonal nature. However, we propose that computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies can mimic traditional interactive face-to-face communications, thus enabling a form of guanxi in online marketplaces. Extending the literature on traditional guanxi, we herein introduce the concept of swift guanxi, conceptualized as the buyer’s perception of a swiftly formed interpersonal relationship with a seller, which consists of mutual understanding, reciprocal favors, and relationship harmony.

Integrating theories of CMC and guanxi, we develop a model that explains how a set of CMC tools (i.e., instant messaging, message box, feedback system) facilitate repeat transactions with sellers by building swift guanxi and trust through interactivity and presence (social presence and telepresence) with sellers. Longitudinal data from 338 buyers in TaoBao, China’s leading online marketplace, support our structural model, showing that the buyers’ effective use of CMC tools enable swift guanxi and trust by enhancing the buyers’ perceptions of interactivity and presence. In turn, swift guanxi and trust predict buyers’ repurchase intentions and their actual repurchases from sellers. We discuss the implications of swift guanxi in online marketplaces with the aid of CMC technologies.

Keywords: Guanxi, swift guanxi, computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies, media synchronicity theory (MST), computer-mediated communication interactivity model (CMCIM), instant messenger (IM), online marketplaces, interactivity, presence, trust

Suggested Citation

Ou, Carol Xiaojuan and Pavlou, Paul A. and Davison, Robert, Swift Guanxi in Online Marketplaces: The Role of Computer-Mediated Communication Technologies (2013). MIS Quarterly (2014), 38 (1), 209-230; Fox School of Business Research Paper No. 14-002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2369896

Carol Xiaojuan Ou

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC 5000 LE
Netherlands

Paul A. Pavlou (Contact Author)

Temple University - Department of Management Information Systems ( email )

1810 N. 13th Street
Floor 2
Philadelphia, PA 19128
United States

Temple University - Department of Strategic Management ( email )

Fox School of Business and Management
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

Robert Davison

City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK) ( email )

83 Tat Chee Avenue
Kowloon
Hong Kong

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