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The Evolution from E-Commerce to M-Commerce: Pressures,
Firm Capabilities and Competitive Advantage in Strategic
Decision Making.
Article · January 2012
DOI: 10.4018/jebr.2012010101 · Source: DBLP
3 authors:
Esther Swilley
Charles Hofacker
Kansas State University
Florida State University
Bruce Lamont
Florida State University
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International Journal of E-Business Research, 8(1), 1-16, January-March 2012 1
The Evolution from E-Commerce
to M-Commerce:
Pressures, Firm Capabilities
and Competitive Advantage in
Strategic Decision Making
Esther Swilley, Kansas State University, USA
Charles F. Hofacker, Florida State University, USA
Bruce T. Lamont, Florida State University, USA
This study focuses on the isomorphic pressures and firm capabilities that affect strategic decision-making in
organizations in the context of m-commerce. The authors take into consideration that the three isomorphic
forces set forth by DiMaggio and Powell (1983), mimetic, coercive and normative pressures, work together
to impact strategic decisions based on stakeholder influences. This study found that the effects of mimetic
pressures seen in results of previous studies may be the result of model misspecification. Findings also indicate
that firms want to leverage capabilities gained from e-commerce in the m-commerce wave in order to gain a
competitive advantage in the marketplace
Dynamic Capabilities, Electronic Commerce, Institutional Theory, Isomorphism, Mobile
During the first days of the commercialization
of the Internet, many retailers were reluctant
to develop an e-commerce presence fearing
cannibalization of offline sales. At the same
time, retailers felt pressure to develop an online
presence due to forces within the retail industry.
Sears, for example, went kicking and screaming
to the Internet, starting as an information-only
Web site, reluctant to use the Internet as a retail
channel (Ranganathan et al., 2004). As consumers began to purchase more items online,
manufacturers developed direct relationships
with consumers through online sales, and purely
virtual merchants began online businesses to
attract consumers. An online presence soon
became a strategic advantage for many of those
who developed e-commerce Web sites. Because
of what was happening between consumers and
suppliers, brick and mortar retailers felt pres-
DOI: 10.4018/jebr.2012010101
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2 International Journal of E-Business Research, 8(1), 1-16, January-March 2012
sure to develop an online presence in order to
stay competitive.
Mobile business (m-business) is emerging;
however, many firms are not committing themselves. Marketers have been slow to optimize mbusiness, even though firms see the importance
of having m-business as a strategy. Even though
forecasters expect mobile spending to increase,
it has not garnished the spending that has been
expected for the past few years (Hilimire, 2011).
As of 2010, almost 80% of U.S. retailers had
not developed mobile business capabilities
(eMarketer, 2010). This reticence is perhaps not
surprising. Mobile is different. The platform is
characterized by ultra-portability, location sensitivity and untetheredness (Shankar, Venkatesh,
Hofacker, & Naik, 2010). The mobile device is
intensely personal with different input/output
sensibilities (Shankar et al., 2010).
Companies find themselves asking many
of the same questions asked at the very onset of
the e-business era. Do we have the capabilities
necessary for entry in m-business? Why should
we invest in the new medium or channel? Which
stakeholders might m-business affect? The
purpose of this study is to examine capabilities
and the pressures exerted by stakeholders, both
intraorganizational and interorganizational,
that affect investment and strategy decisions
in m-business.
Isomorphism can be competitive, meaning
organizational changes are based on market
competition, or isomorphism can be institutional, whereby organizations change for legitimacy, that is they change to create social or
economic compatibility (DiMaggio & Powell,
1983). The pressures, or forces, through which
isomorphism occurs are mimetic, coercive and
normative (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983). The
research questions center on the different types
of pressures that influence firms as they make
strategic decisions about m-business. Also asked
is whether firms’ sense, from their e-business
capabilities built up in the recent past, that they
have the capabilities to have a competitive
advantage in the mobile enabled marketplace.
Realizing sustained competitive advantage is the goal of firms; stakeholders of these
firms may influence the achievement of this
competitive advantage. These stakeholders
can be internal as well as external to the firm.
Mobile devices have become indispensable
in corporate culture. As more and more of the
firm’s stakeholders use mobile technology, these
stakeholders will influence firms in the decision
to adopt m-business. In this case, stakeholder
refers, in its broadest sense, to include suppliers,
customers, and competitors.
The attraction of managerial attention to
mobile business is obvious since the technology
of mobile devices is advancing at a dizzying
pace. Improved wireless infrastructure and
user interfaces, as well as quality middleware,
are all critical to the success of mobile business (Yeo & Huang, 2003) and all these are
rapidly improving. Personal digital assistants
have evolved into smart phones that allow users to combine their productivity helpers with
cell phones, and laptops are evolving into still
smaller netbooks and tablets. Now all these
devices have converged with Internet technology to create a host of opportunities, as well
as challenges, for marketers. However, firms
are not convinced that m-business is worth
pursuing. Mobile conversion rates are seen as
“anemic” and total revenue figures are “modest”
(Andrasick, 2011). How to generate revenues,
development of new business models, as well
as costs have kept many firms from exploring
m-business (Kini & Bandyopadhyay 2009).
While many published studies help the
understanding of the consumer in the adoption
of mobile commerce, the generation of only
minimal research in the understanding of the
firm in the adoption of mobile business is available. The purpose of this research is therefore to
investigate the internal and external influences
and pressures acting upon the firm with respect
to mobile commerce adoption, and to detect the
existence of carryover from e-business capabilities to m-business in the decision making
process. Using institutional theory to understand
better influence, a conceptual model examines
the power of firm stakeholders over marketing
and general business strategy. We look at how
stakeholder influence affects the performance
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International Journal of E-Business Research, 8(1), 1-16, January-March 2012 3
of the firm, as well as the firm’s competitive
advantage as mediated by these strategic decisions. A model is developed and tested, and
results explored through managerial implications and future research avenues.
Institutional Theory
Institutional theory, simply put, claims that
the environment strongly influences the development of business organizations and other
institutions (Selznick, 1957). This theory has
been applied to firms as a whole (Chatterjee et
al., 2002; Cheng, 2010; Clemens & Douglas,
2006; Tan et al., 2007; Teo et al., 2003), and has
been empirically studied within the context of
the marketing function (Handelman & Arnold,
1999). Institutional theory holds that organizations incorporate myths, norms, practices,
procedures, and mimicry to maximize their
legitimacy and thereby increase access to environmental resources and survival capabilities.
Legitimization is defined as the assumption
that industry norms, values and beliefs will be
seen as desirable and appropriate (Suchman,
1995). After all, if everyone is adhering to certain structures and rules, firms that do not do so
are not as “legitimate.” Instead, firms become
legitimate when adopting structures and strategies similar to others within the firm’s environment (Deephouse, 1996). Organizations seek
legitimization within an industry by adhering to
specific business practices; full legitimization of
e-commerce has surely occurred. Mobile business, on the other hand, is still at an early stage
and is just now starting to become legitimized.
The development of industry norms for mobile
business is now occurring.
DiMaggio and Powell’s (1983) forces have
almost entirely been studied in isolation (Teo et
al., 2003) so remains unclear as to whether the
three forces truly exert independent pressure on
firms. To study one type of pressure without the
others in the same model leads the researcher
open to potentially biased coefficients (e.g.,
Bentler & Choi, 1987).
Historically, the observation of this process
began in the middle of the 1990s when e-commerce began with no formalized structures. At
first, many organizations did not know where
to place an e-commerce department. Some felt
e-commerce should go under the jurisdiction of
the IT department, with the CIO as the overseer.
Other firms saw the importance of the customer
in e-commerce, and placed e-commerce in marketing. Others either outsourced e-commerce,
or set up as its own department; in both cases,
hoping e-commerce would either blossom or go
away. On the other hand, marketing departments
saw e-commerce as a customer touch point and,
when placed in charge of the Internet channel
for the corporation, emphasized content as
king as is consistent with marketing procedures
(Esch, 2002).
It was not until standards had developed
for how sites should look how sites should
be developed and maintained, that the Web
became fully institutionalized and legitimized
in a process that was, in our view, consistent
with institutional theory. Pizza Hut, one of the
first online ecommerce sites, used strictly text
and their logo. Many retailers followed this
design seeing the Internet only as an information
resource for customers. Integration of online
and offline communication strategies was not
taken into consideration in terms of Web site
design. Cannibalization of brick-and-mortar
operations kept many retailers from using the
Internet as a retail channel. Virtual stores took
advantage of this fear by offering consumers
the opportunity to shop online. At some point
after these uncertainties and corporate procedures, the Internet became entrenched and
users became habituated to certain Web site
norms. Institutionalization had arrived and at
that point, no “legitimate” company could be
without a Web presence.
Mimetic Pressure
Mimetic isomorphism stems from the pressure
to imitate others within the same industry.
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4 International Journal of E-Business Research, 8(1), 1-16, January-March 2012
Figure 1. Conceptual model
Mimetic pressures are a natural response to
uncertainty, for example, the uncertainty that
stems from a turbulent technological environment, and as pointed out by Selznick (1996),
anxiety and compulsion drive imitation more
than rational thought. Mimetic pressures have
been the most widely studied of the three types
of pressure. Firms will respond to what is happening in the marketplace, not because mimicry
is a sound business practice, but because that is
what the competition is doing (e.g., Stockport,
Kunnath, & Sedick, 2001).
In the framework, mimetic pressure specifically refers to the perception of competitors after their adoption of m-business, and its
effect on the intention of other firms to adopt
m-business. In effect, in the ambiguity created
by rapid technological change, the sense that
“it seems to be working” for other firms leads
to isomorphism created from imitation. In
uncertain times, when firms that have taken a
specific technological direction seem to be the
recipient of positive stakeholder attitudes and
emotions, mimetic pressure is at its strongest
(DiMaggio & Powell, 1983). Teo et al. (2003)
found that the greater the mimetic pressure, the
more likely firms would adopt current tech-
nologies. For example, many established firms
responded to the dot.com craze with a simple
if we build it, they will come philosophy. A
number of startup companies bet on technology
coupled with advertising rather than thinking
about profit. In the beginning established retail
firms resisted e-commerce as these values and
norms differed from those used in their brick
and mortar businesses. Eventually, however,
retailers relented to the pressures to conform as
the number of online consumers and favorable
business press articles swelled. Manufacturers
also moved online, while retailers faced fears
of disintermediation (Alba et al., 1997;Erdem
& Utecht, 2002; Jelassi & Leenen, 2003). Of
course, many of these fears were unfounded,
despite all the imitation.
Consideration is given to the fact that
firms face these same pressures as they move
with uncertainty into m-business as users and
business press articles on the topic are beginning to increase. Though the pioneering firms
are currently smaller, non-established firms,
eventually some brick and mortar retailers
will imitate their strategies in order to compete
(Haverman, 1993). These pressures in the face
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International Journal of E-Business Research, 8(1), 1-16, January-March 2012 5
of uncertainty will move organizations to imitate
others’ m-business strategies. Therefore,
H1: Mimetic pressures are positively associated
with intention to adopt m-business.
Coercive Pressures
Coercive pressures are exerted by those with
power, both externally and internally, for the
adoption of values, beliefs and processes within
the firm (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983). Coercive
pressures refer to both external and internal
stakeholders who can force certain decisionmaking outcomes within the firm through
the adoption of structures and rules. External
pressures would include governmental laws and
regulation, as well as industry persuasion or
self-regulation. For example, Zhu et al. (2004)
found the regulatory environment affected ebusiness diffusion.
Internally, these pressures can come from
parent corporations, firm top management or
investors. An example here would be the adoption of e-business by travel agencies, affected
by pressures of top management (Wang &
Cheung, 2004). Intrafirm pressures can also
come from the top management team’s beliefs
in technology. Chatterjee (2004) found that top
management influenced the assimilation of the
technologies used in e-commerce. Conversely,
when management sees technology as potentially hindering its policies, firms are more likely
to freeze in the face of technological change
in the environment, and respond with policies
impeding technological change. Therefore,
in summary, the policies set forth by industry
regulators, as well as top management, affect
decision-making made by the marketing department. Therefore,
H2: Coercive pressures are positively associated with intention to adopt m-business.
Normative Pressures
Normative pressures manifest themselves
through interorganizational contact (Teo et al.,
2003). Normative pressures refer to pressures
that firms face when dealing with competitors,
suppliers and customers through social networks. Unlike mimetic pressures where firms
copy or mimic others out of uncertainty, normative pressures stem from adopting structures
or procedures because these are thought to be
superior. The assumption often arises from
socialization. For example, MBA students
begin their socialization via the same courses
taught around the world. Once on the job, their
professional peers and others exert implicit
and explicit pressure to conform. Likewise,
normative pressures arise not only just listening to the customer, but through the need to do
what the customer wants in order to maintain
the relationship with the customer – to be superior in the mind of that customer. Similarly,
competitors create normative pressure. For
example, Amazon sued Barnes & Noble for
patent infringement when B&N offered a oneclick ordering option. B&N had copied what
they thought to be better, aiding in developing
a competitive advantage.
Teo et al. (2003) argued that pressures
described in institutional theory were influenced by dominant suppliers, as well as major
customers, leading to the adoption of new
technologies. Strategic marketing decisions
replicate the goals and objectives of the company
and help to support the firm in obtaining high
levels of performance. These same strategic
decisions can reflect the goals and objectives
of major customers and suppliers. For example,
customers and suppliers have influenced the
development of new products (LaBahn, 2000)
as well as distribution channel relationships
(Boyle & Dwyer, 1995) where the goals and
objectives of the firms are similar.
Consider also that normative isomorphism
comes from the need to be part of the professional member collective, including professional organizations, networks and strategic
groups (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983). The decision to adopt m-business may also arise from
the pressures outside the business, including
those from others in the industry, professional
and trade association members. Several industry
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6 International Journal of E-Business Research, 8(1), 1-16, January-March 2012
organizations sprang up early in the history of
the Internet. Many of the online firms joined
these organizations for legitimization. Two of
these organizations are TrustE, a self-regulating
entity for privacy to develop consumer trust
validation, and The Interactive Advertising
Bureau to evaluate and recommend standards
for Internet advertising. Just as the decision
to enter the online space, in many cases, was
spurred by relationships with others in the same
industry, business and trade associations, firms
will likely need to imitate those in mobile business in order to demonstrate their fitness to do
business (Teo et al., 2003). Therefore, taking
these pressures into consideration,
H3: Normative are positively associated with
intention to adopt m-business.
E-Business Capabilities
Firms, according to Kogut and Zander (1992),
are repositories of capabilities. These capabilities are entrenched in relationships that are
structured by the culture of the firm and the
creation of knowledge is developed from the
recombination of these capabilities (Kogut &
Zander, 1992). Dynamic capabilities are defined
as the firm’s ability to integrate, build, and reconfigure internal and external competencies to
address rapidly changing environments (Teece
et al., 1997). Daniel and Wilson (2003) found
that the commitment to e-business had to be
shared by both internal and external stakeholders
as the changes would be affecting most functions across the firm (Daniel & Wilson, 2003).
In this case, the technological opportunity
is mobile business, and the knowledge obtained
through e-commerce and e-business. Saeed
et al. (2005) argued that competence in electronic commerce allows for higher customer
value, and also gives an organization the ability to accumulate knowledge, both tacit and
codifiable, concerning operating in an online
environment, developed through a path dependent history (Saeed et al., 2005). Positing that
these capabilities will be important due to the
fact that e-business, like m-business, requires
customer-centric IT assimilation and therefore
requires the same unique capabilities,
H4: E-business capabilities are positively associated with intention to adopt m-business.
Competitive Advantage
Managers are held accountable to the performance of the firm, as well as any advantage or
disadvantage vis-a-vis the competition. Higher
market share, an increased number of customers
and sales, as well as strengthened shareholder
relationships are some of the performance
measures that link managerial action to the
growth of the firm. The overall assessment of
strategic marketing decision-making is the ability to move the company forward. According
to Porter (1985), a firm needs to be “a moving
target to its competitors.” Arguably, firms pressured to change, which also have the capabilities
to change, will achieve greater competitive
advantage in the marketplace.
H5: Pressure to adopt mobile business will
lead to a more sustainable competitive
Sample and Data Collection
Data were collected through an online panel survey developed by Study Response at Syracuse
University. Study Response developed a sample
of respondents based on researchers’ criteria
(see http://www.studyresponse.com), which
included managerial level, title, and industry.
A total of 298 managers started the survey, with
272 individuals completing it. After eliminating
those not in a managerial capacity, 249 were
complete and usable. Thirty-seven percent of
the respondents reported as simply managers,
18% represented C-level management, 8% were
directors and 4% general managers. Over 43%
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International Journal of E-Business Research, 8(1), 1-16, January-March 2012 7
of the respondents were from firms with less
than 1000 employees, and 38% of the firms
were those with less than $1billion in sales
per annum. Most of the respondents reported
to be in Manufacturing (28%), IT (17%) and
Financial (9%) industries, followed by Food
(4%), Construction (3%) and Retail (3%). See
Tables 1 and 2 for more details.
The instrument began with an introduction to
and definition of m-business, followed by a
questionnaire derived from the scales discussed
below. The base of the indicators was a sevenpoint Likert-type response format ranging
from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”
The basis of analysis for mimetic pressures
(MP) was Perceived Competitor Adoption and
Perceived Competitor Success, developed by
Teo et al. (2003) in their operationalization of
mimetic pressures. To measure coercive pres-
sures (CP), utilization of the Top Management
Championship as developed by Chatterjee et
al. (2002) in looking at the organizational assimilation of Web technologies, as well as items
from Perceived Pressure from Major Customers
and Perceived Pressure from Major Suppliers
based on the Teo et al. (2003) are the items
within the variables.
The normative pressure (NP) measurement
used the normative pressures scale in Wu et al.
(2003). The e-business capabilities scale (EBC)
was adapted from Raymond & Bergeron (2008),
Saini and Johnson (2005), and Chewlos et al.
(2001). The intention to adopt scale (MBAI) by
Chwelos et al. (2001) as a dependent variable in
studying a firm’s intention to adopt EDI is the
basis of the scale in this study. EDI Technology
was the base for the measures in their study,
modified to quantify m-business adoption intention within this study. Items for Competitive
advantage (CA) were adapted from Wu (2010).
The questionnaire used is in Table 3.
Table 1. Number of employees
What is the size of your firm in terms of number of employees?
Over 10,000
Not reported
Table 2. Sales volume
What is the size of your firm in terms of annual sales volume (dollar amount)?
$500M - $1B
Over $5B
Not Reported
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8 International Journal of E-Business Research, 8(1), 1-16, January-March 2012
Table 3. Measures employed
Mimetic Pressures
MP1 Our main competitors are currently using m-business to conduct business
MP2 Our main competitors that have adopted m-business are perceived favorably by others in the industry
MP3 Our main competitors that have adopted m-business are perceived favorably by suppliers
MP4 Our main competitors that have adopted m-business are perceived favorably by customers
Coercive Pressures
CP1 - With regard to my main customers that have adopted m-business, my firm’s well-being depends on their purchases
CP2 - Our firm MUST maintain good relationships with my main customers that have adopted m-business
CP3 - With regard to my main customers that have adopted m-business, they are target customers in the industry
CP4 - With regard to my main suppliers that have adopted m-business, my firm cannot easily switch from them
CP5 - my firm MUST maintain good relationships with my main suppliers that have adopted m-business
CP6 - My main suppliers that have adopted m-business are core suppliers in a concentrated industry
CP7 The senior management of our firm actively participates in articulating a vision for the organizational use of
CP8 The senior management of our firm believes in the potential of m-business to provide significant business
benefits to the firm
CP9 The senior management of our firm believes m-business will create a significant competitive advantage
Normative Pressures
NP1 A large number of our business partners have already adopted m-business practices
NP2 In our industry, firms that do not readily adopt new technologies will be left behind
NP3 We would be considered technology-deficient if we do not implement m-business practices
NP4 It is important that we are seen as a cutting edge business that adopts innovative technologies
NP5 In our industry, most firms will ultimately end up adopting a wide range of m-business practices
E-Business Capabilities
EBC1 We currently use e-business for developing business intelligence
EBC2 We currently use e-business for prospecting for new customers
EBC3 We currently use e-business for interacting with business partners
EBC6 We currently use e-business for selling products/services
EBC7 My firm currently has the skills to integrate the various information technology (IT) components
EBC8 My firm currently has adequate IT infrastructure capabilities
EBC9 My firm can easily apply our e-business resources to a wide range of uses
EBC10 My firm can easily modify our e-business capabilities for m-business
EBC11 Our e-commerce alliance partners exert influence on our technological decisions
EBC12 We can find other firms to provide resources comparable to those provided by our e-commerce alliance partners
EBC 13We continue/intend to continue our e-business alliances into m-business
Intentions to Adopt M-Business
MBAI1 We are contemplating adopting m-business in a year’s time
MBAI2 We are likely to adopt m-business in a year’s time
continued on following page
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International Journal of E-Business Research, 8(1), 1-16, January-March 2012 9
Table 3. continued
MBAI3 We have a commitment to have a m-business presence
Firm Performance
Competitive Advantage
CA1 Over the past 3 years, our financial performance has been higher than that of our competitors
CA2 Our speed to market changes is above the industry average
CA3 Over the past 3 years, our marketing performance has been higher than that of our competitors
CA4 So far, we have been able to achieve our organizational objectives more effectively than our competitors
CA5 Our speed of innovation is above the industry average
Firm Information
What is your position in your organization?
What is your major industry?
What is the size of your firm in terms of number of employees?
What is the size of your firm in terms of annual sales volume (dollar amount)?
SEM and Hypotheses
Confirmatory Factor Analysis
The structural model was then assessed and
provided a good fit to the data, with CFI = .92,
TLI = .91 and IFI = .92 (Bentler, 1990; Hu &
Bentler, 1999). The absolute fit of the model
was good with χ2 = 2107.11 with 977 degrees
of freedom, and a χ 2/df = 2.15, which is less
than the 3:1 cutoff suggested by Carmines and
McIver (1981). The RMSEA of the model was
.06, again suggesting good fit of the model
(Steiger & Lind, 1980).
The results of all hypothesis tests are in
Table 5. First, note no significant relationship
exists between mimetic pressures and the intention to adopt m-business (H1). However, reliable
evidence exists that coercive pressures (H2)
and normative pressures (H3) have a positive
impact on the intention to adopt m-business. In
addition, Table 2 shows that e-business capabilities have a positive impact on the adoption of
m-business (H4). Additional reliable evidence
shows that firms more likely to adopt mobile
business would be then more likely to expect
higher firm performance and a stronger competitive advantage, supporting H5.
Analysis of the proposed model used Structural
Equation Modeling, using AMOS with full
information maximum likelihood estimation.
The data analysis was carried out using the
two-stage approach (Anderson & Gerbing,
1988) where the measurement model is first
evaluated by a confirmatory factor analysis
and the structural model is then used to test a
series of nested models in order to explain the
different relationships among the variables.
The CFA model fit the data well, as the
goodness of fit measures were above conventional levels; CFI = .93, TLI=.92, IFI=.93, χ2 =
1978.68, df=968, and χ2/df = 2.04 (Bentler &
Bonett, 1980). RMSEA was .06, which indicates
a good fit of the model as suggested by Browne
and Cudeck (1993) and Hu and Bentler (1999).
Fornell and Larcker (1981) recommend
assessment of the internal consistency via
construct reliability estimates. Construct reliabilities ranged from .91 (MBAI) to .97 (CP
and EBC). Table 4 gives a description of the
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10 International Journal of E-Business Research, 8(1), 1-16, January-March 2012
Table 4. Descriptive statistics
Table 5. Hypothesized paths
Hypothesized Path
t Value
H1: Mimetic pressures are positively associated with intention
to adopt m-business.
H2: Coercive pressures are positively associated with intention to
adopt m-business.
H3: Normative pressures are
positively associated with intention to adopt m-business.
H4: E-business capabilities are
positively associated with intention to adopt m-business.
H5: Pressure to adopt mobile
business will lead to a more sustainable competitive advantage
The march to m-business has been slow. The
diffusion into firms, including retailers, has
not been at all fully realized. This research
examines m-business in order to understand
the pressures that firms are facing the decision
to use m-business in strategic decision-making.
As the academic interest has been scarce, an
understanding would aid firms in the development of an m-business strategy.
Mizruchi and Fein (1999) noted that mimetic isomorphism has received a disproportionate amount of attention in comparison to
coercive and normative isomorphic pressures.
In this article, all three forms of isomorphism
are included, arguing that each are to be taken
into consideration when assessing impact on the
behavior of an organization both for theoretical as well as methodological reasons. While
previous research has focused on mimetic pressure in isolation, the possibility exists of being
misled by missing variables, or in other words,
specification error in such models (Bentler &
Choi, 1987). In the study, coercive pressures
and normative pressures were carefully controlled, and in doing so, the impact of mimetic
pressures vanished.
Mimetic Pressures: Findings in this study indicate that mimetic pressure does not affect
adoption decisions. While Zhu et al. (2003)
discuss the role of influences in the deci-
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International Journal of E-Business Research, 8(1), 1-16, January-March 2012 11
sion to adopt e-commerce; results indicate
that mimetic forces are not influential in
the m-business adoption decision. Firms
may be waiting to enter mobile business
because they do not feel that there is pressure in the environment. As the adoption
rate of m-business been slow, this may be
an indication of why mimetic pressure was
not a significant indicator of the adoption
decision. The rush to conform during the
dot.com boom, and eventual bust, may have
led many retailers to move more cautiously
with the advent of mobile.
Coercive Pressures: Coercive pressures do
have an impact on the intention to adopt
m-business by a firm, in terms of top management and customers. Such pressures
were also felt during the implementation
of e-commerce (Chatterjee et al., 2002),
and now history is repeating itself with
m-business. In an environment of a lagging economy and decreasing sales, firms
are cautiously evaluating their course of
action. Boards, investors and employees
are looking to develop strategies that will
keep their companies moving forward.
Corporate decision makers must develop
strategies that will help them outrun the
competition, but a minimum requirement
is to keep the company functioning. Mobile
business allows firms to interact with their
customers and suppliers relatively easily.
Moreover, as this core group has adopted
m-business strategies, it behooves other
firms to do the same. According to Varnali
and Toker (2010), because of the developments in mobile technology and increased
penetration rates, businesses can use this
channel as the ultimate marketing vehicle
and then realize its business potential.
Normative Pressures: Social influence has a
positive effect on m-business adoption
intentions. Approval or disapproval from
those in the industry social network is
important in the m-business decision. It
is interesting to note the frequent use of
mobile devices to develop social networks,
whether personal or professional, using the
older telephone network or new platforms
like Facebook specifically adopted for
social networks. Normative pressure for
work uses may be more apparent than
previously. Since managers routinely call
or email associates at other firms through
a mobile device, it can be very apparent if
the receiver is, or is not, using m-business
as a strategy as part of their marketing efforts. The possible collapse of Blackberry
during its patent infringement lawsuit in
2010 made business (as well as government) users nervous, as this may have had
a very negative impact on communications
between customers and suppliers.
In terms of industry pressures, trade associations within the mobile sector have now
developed. The Mobile Marketing Association established a forum for firms focused on
the potential of marketing via mobile devices
(MMA, 2011). Several countries including India
and Finland have developed associations that
promote mobile business within these countries,
as well as promoting their products to firms in
other countries. These associations will aid firms
in developing m-business practices through
relationships within the associations, as was
done with e-commerce.
E-Business Capabilities: Relationships established during e-commerce have a large
impact on the intention to adopt m-business.
Chatterjee (2004) found that resource
dependency determined if a firm would
continue with an alliance. In this case,
sampled managers sense that e-commerce
relationships, skills and capabilities are a
resource worth continuing into another
technology generation. Even though their
partners may exert some influence on the
relationship, this will only aid firms in mbusiness with comparable resources and
technical alliances. In particular, alliances
developed during the implementation and
continuation of e-commerce could have
a large impact on a firm’s decision to
adopt an m-business marketing strategy.
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12 International Journal of E-Business Research, 8(1), 1-16, January-March 2012
Such relationships in fact might serve as
a more potent advantage than the technology itself. Firms see themselves as
easily modifying their capabilities used in
developing a strong e-commerce platform
to m-commerce.
Overall, respondents felt that there are
pressures on the firm to develop a strategic
deployment of mobile business, as this strategy
will aid the firm in continuing its competitive
advantage in the marketplace. Firms that see
themselves as above their competition see mbusiness as aiding in staying above the industry
average in terms of performance. Those firms
that have been able to achieve their organizational objectives see m-business as adding to
that advantage in the near future.
Limitations of the Study
All research has inherent limitations that
ought to be acknowledged and this study is
no exception. Data collection through a panel
relies on the respondents’ discernment of the
variables. Response drop-off was eliminated
with the online survey as respondents had to
complete the entire survey, though taking the
survey could be done at different times, and
were not allowed to manipulate the results by
responding several times. Lastly, because of the
length of the survey, the possibility of fatigue
exists. The average completion rate was just
under ten minutes.
Recommendations for
Future Research
The results of this study suggest the promise
of the adoption of m-business as a strategic
advantage to those firms that choose to adopt
it as a marketing channel. As this study took an
overall or high-level view of m-business adoption with the firm, a great deal of research can
be done at other levels, in terms of the adoption of mobile business by sectors, functional
areas, departments, individuals, supply chains
or consumers.
The amount of mobile or ubiquitous commerce research at the firm level is quite modest.
On the other hand, a wealth of e-commerce
research exists that has tended to concentrate
on consumer behavior, interaction design, globalization and the supply chain. The historical
adoption of online business occurred at such
a rapid pace that firm-level researchers were
barely able to study the phenomenon in real
time. Given a similarly rapid onset of m-business, forewarned by the e-commerce “wave,”
the mobile wave is watched more carefully.
Researchers can also see how elements of the
first wave carried over to the second.
Okazaki (2005) has also addressed some
of these concerns in his research agenda for
the development of mobile commerce as
many unanswered questions asked during the
e-commerce boom addressing them now to
m-business. For example, what is the value of
m-business to the firm? An exploration of how
m-business adds to firm performance, in terms
of developing market share, sales, and customer
relationships can be examined. In addition,
speaking of these relationships, what can mbusiness add in terms of customer relationship
management? An investigation of m-business
advantages to the customer can lead to the simple
research question: is m-commerce simply wireless e-commerce, that is, e-commerce through
another marketing channel? In what ways is
m-commerce different or the same? Which
customers are more likely to use m-business?
Which of these customers are pressuring firms
to adopt m-business? Moreover, are these customers going to use m-commerce (if you build
it, will they come)?
Who owns m-business within the firm?
Many firms grappled with having either marketing or IT at the helm of the e-commerce platform. Is m-commerce a marketing department
or IT function? On the academic side most of
the literature is coming from the MIS tradition.
What role will the different traditional academic
functional areas play in the emerging research
stream in m-business?
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International Journal of E-Business Research, 8(1), 1-16, January-March 2012 13
Balasubramanian et al. (2002) asserted that
conceptualizing m-business is a key research
activity that needs execution. This study conceptualized m-business in terms of firm’s adoption as a viable strategy in the face of pressures
brought on by its stakeholders. Results suggest
that the intention to adopt mobile commerce has
its basis in the relationships of a firm, including
internal and external relationships. Firms also
recognize that the time put into building relationships and capabilities through e-commerce
can be of value with the implementation of
Based on these findings, firms finding
themselves in sharpening their m-business focus
could enhance this development by
Working closely with their major customers and suppliers to develop an m-business
adoption plan that meets the needs of all
involved and which highlights the value of
using m-business for each involved firm,
Working closely within e-commerce alliances to strengthen the relationships
already in place and grow these relationships with a focus on m-commerce, and
Working closely throughout the firm to
develop a strategic m-business plan that
allows the firm to keep its advantage
in the marketplace in order to enhance
In summary, m-business can be viewed
as a strategic competitive advantage in the
marketplace as seen through the relationships
with stakeholders of the firm. This research
contributes to the study of ubiquitous commerce in that this study discusses the affect
of relational resources on the decision to use
mobile commerce as part of an overall marketing
strategy. The external environment can weigh
heavily on the decision process as competitors
use and find success in m-business. Inherent in
that decision may be the draw that the Internet
had once more companies went online. Though
the dotcom crash slowed the growth for a while,
companies stayed online, riding out the storm,
continuing to see the value of this marketing
channel. Though the surge to m-business is not
as swift, the growth is steady, assuming, by this
research, it will continue to expand.
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16 International Journal of E-Business Research, 8(1), 1-16, January-March 2012
Esther Swilley is an assistant professor at Kansas State University. She received her PhD from
Florida State University. Her academic research interests include strategic mobile and e-commerce
decision-making, and the integration of technology and marketing within the organization.
She has published in the International Journal of Electronic Marketing and Retailing, Journal
of Consumer Marketing, Journal of Value Chain Management, and the International Journal
of Mobile Marketing. Prior to her academic career, she worked in marketing and advertising.
Charles F. Hofacker has a PhD in mathematical psychology from the University of California,
Los Angeles, and is professor of marketing at Florida State University. He was visiting professor
at Università Bocconi in Milan, Italy in 2001 and 2007. His current research interests are at
the intersection of marketing and information technology. His work in that and other areas has
appeared in the Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science,
Psychometrika, Management Science, and other outlets. He is currently editor of the Journal of
Interactive Marketing. Dr. Hofacker is also the moderator of ELMAR, an electronic newsletter
and community platform for academic marketing with nearly 7,000 subscribers.
Bruce T. Lamont is the DeSantis professor of business administration and Associate dean of
graduate programs in the college of business at Florida State University. Professor Lamont received his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has published numerous
journal articles, appearing in such outlets as the Academy of Management Journal, Academy
of Management Review, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Management, and
Strategic Management Journal. He currently serves on the editorial review board for the Strategic Management Journal and as a Representative at Large on the Board of the Strategy Process
Interest Group of the Strategic Management Society. He has also served on the editorial review
boards of the Academy of Management Journal and the Journal of Management, the Executive and Research Committees of the Business Policy and Strategy Division of the Academy of
Management, and the Board of Governors of the Southern Management Association. His current
research addresses the effective management of acquisition integration processes, knowledge
investments and novel applications of organization theory.
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