Adoption of Mobile Commerce Services by Individuals: A Meta- Analysis of the Literature

motherlamentationInternet and Web Development

Dec 7, 2013 (4 years and 7 months ago)


Adoption of Mobile Commerce Services by Individuals: A Meta-
Analysis of the Literature

Yousuf S. AlHinai
Department of Information
The University of Melbourne

Sherah Kurnia
Department of Information
The University of Melbourne

Robert B. Johnston
Department of Information
The University of Melbourne


Mobile commerce has been a huge success in
terms of individuals’ adoption in some markets
like Japan, while, surprisingly, not as flourishing
in others. Many studies have been conducted using
traditional adoption models and theories (such as
TAM) that mainly focus on technology aspects. A
more complete understanding of the issue requires
the need to integrate three roles that m-commerce
users play: as technology users, network members
and as consumers. In this study, we review existing
literature on individuals’ voluntary adoption of
mobile commerce services to highlight the
adequacy/inadequacy of previous studies’
coverage of these three roles. We observe that
there is a lack of a complete understanding of
mobile commerce adoption in the current
literature. Several implications for future research
and practice are discussed.

1. Introduction

Mobile commerce or m-commerce is defined
as any direct or indirect transaction with a
potential monetary value conducted via wireless
telecommunication networks [1]. Using mobile
services, users can send/receive emails, download
music/graphics/animations, shop for goods and
services, play interactive online games, trade
stocks, book tickets, find friends, conduct financial
and banking transactions and so on. One of the
main benefits of using m-commerce services is the
ability to carry out tasks anywhere, anytime. Given
such uniqueness, mobile commerce has been a
huge success in some markets such as Japan.
However, interestingly this innovation has not
been as flourishing in other markets such as the
USA and Australia.
This issue has drawn a lot of attention from
researchers to understand the factors that drive
individuals’ adoption/rejection of this innovation.
Many studies have been conducted using
traditional adoption models and theories such as
the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) [2, 3],
the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) [4] and
the Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) theory [5].
However, many authors (e.g. [6-10]) have drawn
the conclusion that traditional adoption models are
insufficient to gain a comprehensive explanation
of the factors that affect individuals’ intentions to
adopt or reject the use of mobile commerce
One of the major reasons for this insufficiency
lies in the kind of role(s) played by m-commerce
services users compared to roles Played by users
of traditional technologies such as PCs. Traditional
technology users have mainly been studied in
terms of their role as technology users through
their interaction with the technology itself and as
network members through interaction with other
people. Users of m-commerce services, on the
other hand, play a threefold role: as technology
users, as network members, and as consumers [11],
[10]. Therefore, to fully understand individuals’
adoption of mobile commerce, these three roles or
perspectives have to be integrated.
In this study, we review existing literature on
individuals’ voluntary adoption of mobile
commerce services to highlight the
adequacy/inadequacy of previous studies’
coverage of the three roles mentioned. We observe
that there is a lack of a complete understanding of
mobile commerce adoption because most studies
have concentrated on investigating the issue based
on the technology user perspective using
traditional adoption theories. In addition, a smaller
number of studies have considered the role of m-
commerce users as network members and far
fewer have investigated their role as consumers. In

this study, we further argue that a more complete
understanding of mobile commerce adoption can
only be obtained if the three roles of the users are
considered in mobile commerce adoption studies.
Based on this review, directions and
recommendations for future research are identified.
Thus, this study helps synthesize prior research on
the topic and streamline the efforts of current and
future researchers in a common direction. It also
helps different stakeholders and practitioners in
the mobile industry to get a more focused insight
into the research on mobile services acceptance
and make better judgments and decisions in their
offers to the mobile service users.
The paper is organized as follows. Section 2
discusses what makes the adopters of m-commerce
services different than the adopters of traditional
technologies. Section 3 outlines the boundaries of
this review and the research approach followed.
Section 4 presents the findings and discussion.
Finally, section 5 concludes with
recommendations for future research.

2. The uniqueness of mobile commerce

Mobile commerce users are more than just
technology users. Two other roles make them
unique compared to adopters of traditional
technologies such as computers, fax machines and
software. First, they are usually part of a social
network of people such as friends and family. This
network would usually influence an individual’s
perceptions, opinions and actions in regard to
different objects including service offers. People
usually recommend good services to each other
and equally they oppose and discourage
unfavourable services to each other. Therefore,
depending on the level of interaction with others,
the decision to adopt or reject a certain service in
not only a result of a mere personal evaluation, but
is usually affected by others.
Second, in order to be able to use a mobile
commerce service, an individual first needs to
subscribe to a mobile telephony service with a
service provider. Only after becoming a mobile
phone user, he/she can make a decision about
becoming or not becoming an m-commerce
adopter. Consequently, being a customer of a
business in the first place raises the importance of
many factors that can affect subsequent intentions
and decisions to accept new service offers. A
customer’s evaluation of such factors can result in
either positive or negative outcomes. In either case,
this evaluation would have an impact on his/her
future service adoption decisions.
Therefore, there are three roles that have to be
considered when investigating individuals’
adoption of m-commerce services as explained
below (figure 1):

Technology User
Network Member
Figure 1. Roles played by mobile
commerce users (adopted from Pedersen,
Methlie and Thorbjørnsen 2002)

2.1. M-commerce adopters as technology

This perspective, in its bases, conforms to
traditional technology adoption research concepts.
Here, all adoption factors studied relate one way or
the other to the technology or service
characteristics and its use. Studies investigating
this role mainly use traditional theories such as the
Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) [2, 3], the
Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) [4] and the
Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) theory [5]. Based
on these theories researchers of mobile commerce
adoption studied the effects of factors such as
usefulness, ease of use, enjoyment of using a
service, content and system quality, impact of
technical issues such as bandwidth and line
capacity and so on.

2.2 M-commerce adopters as network

This perspective or role takes account of
factors that relate to the user’s surroundings and
interactions with other people in his/her personal
network of family, friends, colleagues and other
important people. This perspective is based on the
fact that an individual’s decisions and behaviours
are not made solely by him/her, but rather are
influenced by the opinions and recommendations
of other important people. As a person is part of a
social network, he/she normally interacts with
others in daily life and talk and share with others
what he/she sees, thinks and experiences. That is
why, for example, word of mouth is known as one
of the most effective channels through which

positive and negative ideas and perceptions spread
in a social setting. Ignoring such effects in m-
commerce adoption research would result in an
incomplete understanding of the power of social
networks in impacting one’s beliefs, attitudes and
Some traditional adoption theories such as
TRA and TPB included such influences as part of
their basic concepts. Mobile commerce adoption
researchers (for example, [12] [13] [14]) used
these role to better understand its adoption by
individuals. It is crucial to include such factors
because the usage nature of many m-commerce
services (e.g. mobile chat services) requires
interaction with others. Therefore, researchers in
the area have accounted for factors such as
subjective norms and recommendation of
important others.

2.3 M-commerce adopters as consumers

This role or perspective makes a key difference
between m-commerce adoption research and
adoption research on most traditional technologies.
The majority of adoption determinants that
influence individual acceptance of traditional
technologies (such as PCs) mostly lie in the
interaction of the user with the technology and/or
with people around him/her. However, the case
with mobile services is different. Mobile service
users are normally customers of a business and
pay fees in order to receive services for as long as
they remain customers of the business. * There is
therefore a continuous interaction between the
mobile customer and his/her service provider(s).
Such interaction opens the door to a wide rage of
adoption determinants that might not be as crucial
for traditional technologies adoption.
Not integrating the factors that stand behind
the fact that m-commerce adopters are also
consumers or customers of a business would result
in a deficient view on the issue. As stressed above,
prior to adopting any m-commerce service, a
person would normally decide on becoming a
customer of a certain service provider to get
his/her mobile telephony service. From that point
on, an association is built between the customer
and the business in which he/she is affected by
everyday experiences with the company.
Therefore, there are many factors that accumulate
to form and influence individuals’ intentions to
adopt or reject a service provided by a company.
Failing to integrate such factors would result in
only a partial explanation of the topic.
Consequently, this perspective gives
importance to the impact of marketing and
business related factors such as cost/price, value
perceptions, promotions, offers and people
exposure to the services through different
marketing efforts. Unlike the other two roles, the
consumer perspective is new to the technology
adoption research. Therefore, to understand what
factors influence individuals based on this
perspective, researchers may need to investigate
and integrate theories from areas other than
Information Systems. Unless such integration is
made, there will always be a lack of a complete
understanding of consumers’ adoption of m-
commerce services.
As a result focusing on m-commerce adopters
as technology users only would mean omitting a
great deal of factors related to the other two roles.
Unless enough consideration is given by
researchers to all three roles, the recommendations,
advices and practical implications provided by
research to mobile stakeholders will be incomplete
and inadequate.

3. Research boundaries and approach
of the meta-analysis

During the past few years, mobile commerce
adoption research has grown dramatically. A large
number of studies have covered the topic from
different angles and tens of more studies are added
to the literature every year. The following review
is by no means exhaustive, it aims to highlight to
researchers and practitioners how the research has
been progressing and build a ground on which
future research can be directed. The review is
guided by relevance to the three roles explained in
section 2.
[15] recommend precision about the
boundaries and scope of literature reviews in
Information Systems in order to make them more
informative and insightful to fellow researchers
and practitioners. Following this guideline, some
decisions had to be made in order to establish the
specific focus and boundaries for this review.
First, mobile technologies and services can be
used in many different contexts such as Business
to Business (B2B), Business to Consumer (B2C)
and social contexts. Since each of these contexts
has distinct implications on the kind of theories
and concepts used by relevant studies, a decision
had to be made on which context this review
concentrates on. Second, because research on
mobile commerce is very wide and dramatically
expanding, it was important to decide on which

branch of m-commerce research this study focuses.
Third, the nature of mobile ‘services’ (such as
mobile internet) has many unique implications on
adoption research that might not be of the same
significance when studying the adoption of mobile
‘technologies’ (such as cell phones). Therefore, it
had to be decided if this review investigates the
adoption of mobile services or mobile
technologies. Fourth, some mobile services are
tailored for individuals use while others are
targeted towards businesses and organizations
needs and use. Studying individuals’ adoption of
m-commerce is different than investigating its
adoption by businesses in terms of the theories,
concepts, and perspectives that have to be
considered. Hundreds of studies exist on each of
these two lines and, therefore, a choice had to be
made about which one this review focuses on.
Finally, past adoption research made a clear
distinction between voluntary adoption and
compulsory adoption. Each of these kinds of
adoption significantly differs in terms of its
underlying determinants and decision processes.
As a result, it had to be decided which kind of
adoption to concentrate on.
Based on the above, the following identifies
the precise boundaries of this review and the scope
it covers:
1- Focus on B2C and social contexts (as
compared to B2B, business,
organizational and work environments)
2- Focus on the mobile commerce adoption
literature (as compared to other branches
of the literature such m-commerce
applications, m-commerce infrastructure,
m-commerce business models, etc)
3- Focus on adoption of mobile services (as
compared to adoption of mobile
technologies such as cell phones, walkie-
talkies, etc)
4- Focus on Individual users’ adoption as
the level of analysis (as compared to
adoption of m-commerce technologies
and services by organizations and
5- Focus on voluntary adoption and use (as
compared to compulsory or forced
adoption by management, for example)
Consequently, this review concentrates on
reviewing studies that investigated:
Individuals’ Voluntary Adoption of Mobile
Commerce Services
The above defines an appropriate set of
boundaries for this review because it seeks a
focused view on the topic. Mixing each point in
the list above with its alternatives would mean
mixing different concepts on somewhat
uncommon grounds. For example, factors
affecting individual’s voluntary adoption differ
from those influencing compulsory adoption. One
point of difference is the fact that when voluntarily
adopting a mobile service, individuals usually
personally bear all risks and costs associated with
their adoption actions (albeit monetary, emotional,
etc). Such a small difference largely reflects on the
kind of factors, concepts and theories that have to
be considered. Similarly, discussing issues relating
to individuals’ adoption of services in social
contexts involves a different set of perspectives
and considerations compared to studying
businesses’ adoption of mobile technologies in
organizational and work contexts.
Studies examined in this review came from
journals such as Journal of Electronic Commerce
Research, Information and Management, Journal
of American Academy of Business, Decision
Support Systems, Electronic Commerce Research
and Applications, Communication of the ACM,
Journal of consumer marketing and Journal of
Interactive Marketing. Other studies were
published in conferences such as Hawaii
International Conference on System Sciences
(HICSS), International Conference on Mobile
Business (ICMB), and Bled eConferences. Since
research in the area is relatively recent, studies
reviewed covered the period 2000 to 2006.
Because of the large number of studies on the
topic, the authors had to make a judgment in terms
of how each study conceptually differentiates itself
from other studies based on the three roles
emphasized (section 2).

4. Findings and discussion

Following the basics of traditional adoption
and diffusion research, m-commerce adoption
researchers built on these basics to develop models
that included various variables and concepts drawn
from Information Systems, Psychology, Sociology,
Marketing, Economics and other fields. One of the
attitudes are a result of various perceptions
stemming from past experiences and interactions
that people encounter in their daily lives.
Building on this line of logic, researchers have
therefore focused on users perceptions in regard to
a wide range of factors. Table 1 on the next page
presents a summary of the most frequently studied
adoption factors and how they relate to each of the
three roles or perspectives played by m-commerce
adopters. The table also shows if there is a

consistency/inconsistency in the results found on
each group of factors.
From the table, many observations can be
made. First, the vast majority of studies have
investigated m-commerce adopters as technology
users. This is not surprising since most m-
commerce research used traditional technology
adoption theories and concepts that have mostly
focused on technology aspects. However, it can
also be noted that not all technology-related
factors came from traditional theories. The unique
context and characteristics of mobile commerce
services required the addition of many new
technology related determinants such as content
availability and quality, connection speed, service
speed, bandwidth, and other technical issues. The
technology user perspective has heavily been
investigated in the current literature. By far, the
Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) [2, 3] and
it usefulness and ease of use context is the most
frequently used theory in such studies.
Second, a number of studies have examined
factors based on m-commerce adopters’ role as
network members. Most of these studies combined
such factors with ones related to adopters as
technology users. This combination allowed
researchers to get a better understanding of
important factors that affect individuals’ intentions
and adoption behaviours. This line of factors is not
new to the traditional adoption research since
network and people effects on individuals’
perceptions have been investigated in past studies
using traditional theories such as TRA, TPB and
DOI. The inclusion of determinants that relate to
individuals as network members is very crucial
because the use of many m-commerce services
depend on the interaction between the user and
other people (mobile chatting and fiend find, for
Third, very few studies have investigated the
adoption factors related to the role of m-commerce
users as consumers. While some studies included
factors related to this role along other technology-
user and network-member determinants, the level
of emphasis given to this perspective if very
minimal. There seem to be a lack of understanding
among researchers in the area of the criticality of
including this perspective along the other two.
Only a few attempts have been made on this side.
Pedersen and his colleagues [11] were among the
first to note the need for a triangulation of the
three roles highlighted in this study when
examining the adoption of m-commerce services.
They integrated concepts from Diffusion, adoption,
uses and gratification and domestication research
in order to come up with a better view and
understanding of the issue. [10] On the other hand
integrated and extended the concepts of TAM
using concepts from the theory of consumer choice
and decision making from economics and
marketing research to come up with a value-based
understanding of the issue.
Fourth, the long list and the variety of factors
that have been investigated in the current literature
can be understood by the kind of mobile services
and the contexts investigated in each study. The
nature of different services produces a different set
of important factors. For example, investigating
individuals’ adoption of mobile Internet services -
where WWW content can be accessed through a
mobile screen- may involve a different set of
influences compared to mobile parking services
where simple SMS is the way to exchange needed
information. Because of the wide variety of
services under the umbrella of mobile commerce
and their unlimited use contexts, the scope of
combining existing factors and adding new ones
by each study is, therefore, broad.
Fifth, while the table shows some factors where a
common sense of significance has been reached, it
is important to note the fact that empirical research
in m-commerce tends to be country, sample,
context, and service dependent. Each of these
factors produces different set of results. For
example, investigating the adoption of mobile
Internet among professionals might yield a
different set of conclusions compared to a group of
teenagers. On the other hand, studying the
adoption determinants of an application in a
mature market like Japan could also give different
outcomes than if the same study was carried out in
another market or culture. However, such
unanimous conclusions, despite underlying
differences in the empirical investigation, gives
valuable and very critical insights to relevant
organizations operating in more than one market.

Table 1. M-commerce adoption factors in
the existing literature
Example studies
[6, 7, 16-19]
Direct/indirect effect on
Intentions was found
[7, 9, 10, 18, 20]
Direct/indirect effect on
Intentions was found
image, lifestyle
[7, 9, 21]
* *
Direct/indirect effect on
Intentions was found
User satisfaction (with
using the service
[21-23] *
Direct/indirect effect on
Intentions was found
Relative advantage
and perceived value
[10, 24] * * *
Direct/indirect effect on
Intentions was found
Technical Issues such
as connection speed,
service speed,
bandwidth, device
limitations, etc
[10, 23, 25, 26] *
Direct/indirect effect on
Intentions was found
Contents and functions
availability and quality
[16, 18, 22, 23, 26] *
Direct/indirect effect on
Intentions was found
[6, 25, 27, 28] *
Direct/indirect effect on
Intentions was found
Behavioural Control
facilitating conditions,
[6, 7, 9, 25, 29, 30]
Mixed results were
Compatibility, prior
experience, relevant
past knowledge
[1, 16, 19, 24, 28] * *
Mixed results were
Ease of use,
complexity, effort
[1, 7, 16, 18, 19, 24-26, 28, 31]
Mixed results were
Service cost, price,
fee, perceived
financial cost,
perceived financial
[1, 10, 21-23, 25, 30-32] * *
Mixed results were
Trust, Risk, Security,
perceived credibility,
privacy issues
associated with using a
[1, 6, 22, 24, 30, 31] * *
Mixed results were
Subjective norm (peer
influence, external
influences, normative
beliefs, others
[6, 7, 9, 13, 21, 22, 24, 25, 29, 31] *
Mixed results were
Triability, exposure to
service through
[19, 21, 24, 26, 29] * * *
Mixed results were

5. Conclusions and recommendations
for future research

Based on the preceding discussion, it can be
seen that there is a lack of a complete
understanding of the three roles that mobile
commerce adopters play. Such understanding will
allow researchers and practitioners to gain better
insights on the factors that influence m-commerce
adopters’ intentions. While the current literature
has given a lot of attention to factors affecting
adopters given their role as technology users, less
has been given to the network member role.
Adopters’ role as consumers or customers has
been left with insufficient exploration (Table 2).

Table 2. Level of exploration of adopter
roles in the current literature
Adopter Role
Technology user Widely explored
Network member Scarce to explored
Consumer/Customer Unexplored

Some recommendations for further research
are outlined below. First and most importantly,
more studies integrating the three perspectives
presented in this study are needed in order to gain
a comprehensive view on the adoption
determinants that influence individuals’ intentions
and decisions. A complete understanding of the
issue requires more efforts from researchers to
integrate consumer, marketing, and business
influences in their studies. This would mean going
beyond the theoretical and conceptual bases of
Information Systems. The Information Systems
field by its definition is inter-disciplinary.
Therefore, for any IS issues to be fully
comprehended, investigation must span over other
related areas. For this to be achieved, one
suggestion would be joining forces with other
experts and researchers from related areas such as
Marketing, Economics, Human Behaviour,
Consumer Behaviours and Management. Such
extensions would allow practitioners to gain
greater benefits from studies conducted.
Second, it has been highlighted that the
beginning of any new technology passes through
three stages: substitution (people use it only as a
substitute of similar innovations), adaptation
(people discover new ways of using the
innovation), and revolution (people actually start
to use the innovation in new ways) [33]. This
concept applies to m-commerce services because
most mobile services either substitute another
innovation or replace a manual way of performing
a task. For example, mobile Internet could
substitute many aspects of traditional wired
internet, mobile banking could substitute physical
and wired internet banking, and mobile chat could
also substitute its PC-based counterparts. Given
this, researchers of m-commerce adoption have to
understand the requirements of each applicable
stage and how these requirements impact the
attitudes, intentions and decisions of potential
adopters. For example, a focus on the substitution
stage shows the importance of comparative studies
with similar or related technologies such as
electronic commerce. According to [34] this area
of research is still highly unexplored.
Third, the majority of studies on individuals’
adoption of m-commerce services investigated
adoption decisions are cross-sectional and
therefore are limited to a certain point of time.
However, very few, if any, studies have
investigated how individuals’ reactions change
over time [30], [19]. Such longitudinal research in
m-commerce will help determine which factors of
adoption are more salient than others. For example,
[1] found that ease of use does not have a
significant effect on intentions to use m-commerce.
They explained such finding postulating that
consumers change their ease of use perceptions
about a specific system over time as they become
more familiar with the system. This indicates that
time has an effect on the significance people give
to each adoption factor or determinant.
Longitudinal adoption studies that pay attention to
such changes will have a great impact on theory as
well as practice. Consequently, relevant marketing
and management polices, strategies, and efforts
can be more effectively carried out and distributed
over time to cope to the changes consumers go
Finally, while conceptual studies add
acknowledgeable contributions to the current
literature, more empirical studies are needed. This
review joins previous calls for more empirical tests
in the m-commerce area in order to come up with
more reliable and practical recommendations for
relevant stakeholders [34, 35]. On another side,
there is also a need to extend such efforts to cross-
national and cross-cultural scales [21]. There have
been some attempts on this path (see for example,
[27], [36] but these are still scarce. The need for
such studies arises given the fact that existing one-
culture one-sample empirical studies are context
and sample dependent which makes them hard to
generalize. For greater insights, interested
researchers from various countries should work
together on validating and testing existing and new
models in their respective cultures. Such

comparative studies would highly help and
develop the research area as well as assist national
and multinational corporations in the market to
better customize their efforts and strategies.
While this review is in no way exhaustive, it
theoretically adds to the growing body of IS
literature in general and to the mobile commerce
adoption research in specific. This conceptual
examination of various m-commerce adoption
studies will help future researchers to observe the
trends and design studies on mobile commerce
adoption appropriately and therefore significant
contributions can be made to both theory and
practice. Along with other literature reviews in the
area, this review will help make obtaining useful
insights from existing literature an easier task for
marketers, managers, and other practitioners. As
this study have highlighted, there is still a
limitation and inadequacy in the way the current
literature on m-commerce adoption has
investigated the issue. Therefore, this study guides
practitioners in the way they should interpret the
findings of existing studies. Mobile commerce
stakeholders can, therefore, make improved,
insightful and better directed decisions and

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