Date of Award

August 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Management Science

First Advisor

Sanjoy Ghose

Second Advisor

Amit Bhatnagar

Committee Members

Sanjoy Ghose, Amit Bhatnagar, Xiaojing Yang, Swarnjit Arora


Cross-cultural, E-commerce, Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions, Mobile-only-internet-users (MOIU), Online Buying Behavior, Online Search Patterns


Researchers have been interested in understanding the online purchase intentions of consumers. It’s interesting to see why consumers differ in the way they navigate the Internet. However, it’s still not very well explored as to what role a country's cultural variables play in online purchase behavior of its users. The goal of this dissertation is to identify the determinant variables of online buying behavior of users from different cultural environments. Hofstede's cultural dimensions are used to understand some of the differences. This study also conceptualizes attitudes toward search on mobile devices vs. desktops. The search behavior on mobile devices is analyzed based on demographic profiles of the e-shoppers.

In Chapter 1, the background of the research is set by looking into the web adoption patterns for multiple needs, and the distinction is made between the users’ behaviors focused on actual use of the services offered versus the internet access for general purpose i.e., without any specific service in mind. This helps segment the consumers based on demographic variables and the social context of the user. The primary factors affecting the internet penetration rate in different countries are looked into too. This gives an important perspective of the key foundation of the e-commerce industry i.e., access to Internet to the populace — which forms the superset of potential buyers. The effects of high education, per capita income and telephone connectivity are explored. It's intuitive to see that credit card penetration level will have a positive correlation with the online purchase rate. In this research, it is found that countries with low credit card penetration have less e-commerce even though the cash on delivery option is available there.

In chapter 2, the consumer behavior in different countries is analyzed through the lens of Hofstede's cultural dimensions – Uncertainty avoidance (UAI), Individualism vs. Collectivism (IDV), Masculinity (MAS) and Long-term orientation (LTO). We use the browsing behavior data of the top 5 e-commerce websites of 45 countries obtained through the Alexa website. In order to approach a conceptualization of cultural dimensions with regards to the web, we work with Hofstede’s cultural dimensions and consider how cultures might affect user interface design. It is found that consumers from countries that are high on uncertainty avoidance search for longer durations. In addition to that, consumers from countries high on collectivism are more likely to come to a shopping website from social media websites as compared to that from search engine websites. With the data collected from Globalwebindex platform, the online purchasing drivers for 36 countries are also explored and it is found that the social network's influence on purchase decision is more for countries with low IDV scores and the chances to buy on social network are less for users of high IDV countries. Similarly, we find that users from countries with low UAI and high IDV are more likely to use private browsing window during the online purchase as it protects the users' browsing behavior data on e-commerce websites. And it's also found that users from countries low on IDV are more likely to write post-purchase online reviews.

The results support the conjecture that examining the cultural dimensions and customers' attitudes for online shopping is critically important for e-commerce players intending to make their mark in the global arena. They should consider these different types of online buying behaviors when it comes to web design.

In chapter 3, we attempt to model consumer choice behavior towards web search engines, taking into account users' demographic and cultural dimensions too. The factors that contribute towards the choice of a consideration set of web search engines are explored—using consideration set theory. The choice of the number of web search engines is modeled, taking into account three different categories of variables i.e., ‘who’ – which includes consumer characteristics including cultural dimensions, ‘what’ – which includes information search characteristics and ‘why’ – which includes attitudinal characteristics. Results of the study indicate that 'Age' and 'Uncertainty Avoidance' have significant effect on choice of number of search engines by consumers. Attitudinal characteristics don't contribute significantly towards explaining the choice behavior towards web search engines but information search parameters are significant in that regard.

In chapter 4, the roles of uncertainty avoidance and the demographic variables are identified in online purchase behavior of mobile-only-internet-users (MOIU) vs. desktop-internet users. It is found that the countries with high IDV scores have higher percentage of MOIU and UAI has no effect irrespective of the fact that internet access with mobile devices offers less data privacy. The more individualistic nations have better infrastructure, they have more opportunities to use other mobile devices like iPad and laptop to access the Internet. So, they are less likely to be mobile only. The effect of income per capita on a PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) basis has no significant effect on MOIU. An explanation for it could be the one mentioned above—the required infrastructure not being in place for potential users to access the Internet on desktops. In addition to that, it is found that the effect of IDV scores and the age of users— on MOIU number—are significant too. Also, the young users, aged between 25 – 35 years, are much more likely to fall into the MOIU category, irrespective of which country they are from.

In chapter 5, we conclude with our findings and identify the limitations and the future research directions.

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