Professionalization in Action: Accountants' Attempt at Building a Network of Support for the Webstrust E-Commerce Seal of Assurance

43 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2002

See all articles by Yves Gendron

Yves Gendron

Université Laval

Michael Barrett

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School

Date Written: February 1, 2002

Abstract

In 1997, the North American accounting Institutes launched the WebTrust seal of assurance, aimed at providing comfort to consumers who buy online. This paper uses actor-network theory to better understand how and why the construction of the need for WebTrust was difficult. Specifically, we examine how WebTrust was developed and promoted through the use of rhetorical devices such as market research data that emphasized consumer concerns of electronic transactions and consumer interest in Web assurance.

Our analysis also provides insights into the difficulties that WebTrust proponents had in building a network of support for the seal in the marketplace. For example, managers of online organizations objected to WebTrust on the grounds that customers are neither aware of the seal nor interested in actively learning of it. They also objected because, in their view, consumer fears are not justified given that e-commerce information technology (which relies on encryption) virtually eliminates the risk of unsecured transmission of data. Furthermore, accountants' support of the Institutes' initiative was decreasing, and a significant number of them tended to be quite critical of the way in which WebTrust was implemented. These criticisms suggest that the credibility of the Institutes in the eyes of their members in sustaining concerted competitive efforts in the marketplace is far from being established.

Keywords: WebTrust, E-commerce, Actor-network theory, Professionalization

JEL Classification: M49

Suggested Citation

Gendron, Yves and Barrett, Michael Ian, Professionalization in Action: Accountants' Attempt at Building a Network of Support for the Webstrust E-Commerce Seal of Assurance (February 1, 2002). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=304879 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.304879

Yves Gendron (Contact Author)

Université Laval ( email )

Faculte des sciences de l'administration
2325 rue de la Terrasse, Local 2636
Quebec City, Quebec G1V 0A6
Canada
418-656-2131 ext. 2431 (Phone)
418-656-7746 (Fax)

Michael Ian Barrett

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School ( email )

Trumpington Street
Cambridge, CB2 1AG
United Kingdom
+44 01223 339600 (Phone)
+44 01223 339701 (Fax)

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
225
Abstract Views
2,098
rank
148,522
PlumX Metrics