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Posted on Dec 10, 2010 in Research summaries

Granados et al 2010: Information Transparency in Business-to-Consumer Markets: Concepts, Framework, and Research Agenda

Granados et al 2010: Information Transparency in Business-to-Consumer Markets: Concepts, Framework, and Research Agenda

Granados, Nelson, Alok Gupta and Robert J. Kauffman (2010). Research Commentary—Information Transparency in Business-to-Consumer Markets: Concepts, Framework, and Research Agenda. Information Systems Research (21:2), June 2010, pp. 207-226.

I read this as a literature review in ISR.

  • Rationale: In the past decade (2000 to 2010), there has been an increasing trend for companies to make more internal information about themselves and their products and services available for customers to see. The industry-changing nature of the Internet has forced companies' hands, regardless of whether they want to be more transparent or not. An increasing number of companies have explicitly started making information transparency ("the level of availability and accessibility of market information to its participants," p. 209). a part of their competitive strategy.
  • Objectives: This article reviews research on this trend towards information transparency specifically in business-to-consumer (B2C) markets, and proposes a research agenda to further explore this phenomenon.
  • Theoretical background: The article presents a research framework based on their own organization of the body of research literature. Their framework considers from whom the information originates (that is, suppliers or intermediaries); to whom it is available (targeted to consumers, but also available to competitors); the information elements for which transparency is being considered (products information, prices, costs, inventory levels, processes); potential actions reflecting different levels of information transparency strategy; the systems design that enables or inhibits transparency; the transforming effects on industries of information transparency practices (which they call "transparency regime"; and complementary strategies affecting business strategy.
  • Key questions: Based on their research framework, the authors asked what we know about information transparency (synthesis of existing research), and what we don't know about it (agenda for future research).
  • Methodology: The authors conducted "an extensive review of relevant literature" (p. 211); however, their review is not a systematic literature review. As far as I can tell, their synthesis approach was pretty ad hoc, which led to the research framework that they presented.
  • Key findings: Table 2 on p. 219 summarizes what we know from the existing literature and also summarizes future research questions:

Granados et al 2010, Table 2

  • Key contribution to knowledge: This paper is valuable in highlighting a specific trend in research while arguing compellingly for its practical relevancy, then summarizing the existing research knowledge, and then charting a path for further research.
  • Key implications: Such research enables practitioners to intelligently develop and execute information transparency strategies. For research, this area requires interdisciplinary research, which, while challenging, is an opportunity for information systems researchers to take advantage of our field's hybrid nature.
  • Comments: Although the literature review that produced this study is decidedly non-systematic, the final result is a clear and coherent research framework. The paper uses numerous examples from industrial practice of information transparency to illustrate and argue its points. These illustrations greatly concretize the theoretical arguments and also give the paper a high sense of practical relevance.

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