With a Little Help from My Friends: Cultivating Serendipity in Online Shopping Environments

29 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2017

See all articles by Camille Grange

Camille Grange

HEC Montreal - Department of Information Technologies

Izak Benbasat

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Sauder School of Business

Andrew Burton-Jones

University of Queensland - Business School

Date Written: June 4, 2017

Abstract

Many important findings and discoveries from science to everyday life are the result of serendipity, that is, the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. Serendipity is increasingly sought for in the domain of online shopping, where informational clutter and predetermined decision support systems can make product discovery a frustrating endeavor, but it is notoriously difficult to design environments that induce it. In this study, we explore how social media affordances (i.e., obtaining access to peer-generated content and being connected to online friends) might contribute to create the appropriate conditions for serendipity to manifest, and we supplement this analysis with an account of individual factors that are likely to be instrumental (intensity of shoppers’ search behaviors and shoppers’ risk aversion). Our investigation relies on a conceptualization of serendipity that has two defining elements: unexpectedness and informational value. The results of an experimental study in which we manipulated a product search environment to test the hypotheses reveal the superiority of designs that incorporate online friendships. Overall, this study contributes by offering a theoretical framework for the study of serendipity and by explaining how the integration of social media and electronic commerce affordances, and thus, social commerce, can cultivate it.

Keywords: Online Information Search, Social Commerce, Serendipity, Unexpectedness, Informational Value, Disconfirmation, Diagnosticity, Diversity

Suggested Citation

Grange, Camille and Benbasat, Izak and Burton-Jones, Andrew, With a Little Help from My Friends: Cultivating Serendipity in Online Shopping Environments (June 4, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2993431 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2993431

Camille Grange (Contact Author)

HEC Montreal - Department of Information Technologies ( email )

Canada

Izak Benbasat

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Sauder School of Business ( email )

2053 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2
Canada
604 822-8396 (Phone)

Andrew Burton-Jones

University of Queensland - Business School ( email )

Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

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