Reader Participation in the E-News Service in Taiwan

Article excerpt

The Internet has become increasingly widespread in recent years and the service sector is also booming all around the world. Customer participation in the production of goods and services appears to be growing. Most research has largely been focused on the economic implications of this trend but researchers have seldom examined customers' intention to participate and respond.

The quality of products and services as well as their attractiveness have important impacts on the level of customer participation. Therefore, information service providers and government agencies have strong incentives to develop well-structured information systems. However, Porter (2001) argued that there is a need to move away from the rhetoric about the Internet industries and e-business strategies and there are other experts who agree that the Internet is just one of the new technologies of the 21st century relevant to the click-and-mortar news services.


Evans (2001) pointed out that "Website and email reports might enrich war coverage, but their openness also means they can be easily manipulated." The ill-defined empowerment for participation of the customer through their service process can be manipulated in an industry that holds a monopoly or duopoly. If there are nontariff barriers such as blocking or censoring, or a service is denied, then technically that consumer surplus is deprived. Deregulation in newspapers during the 1980s and development of information communication technology (ICT) sectors was the trend in Taiwan. Several media groups extended their service channels into Internet e-news services beyond the so-called "free information environment" that is dependent on Microsoft computer software for its operation. Therefore, the purpose of this paper was to study reader participation in e-news services in Taiwan as one of the New Industry Countries (NICs).

Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry (1985, 1988; see also Zeithaml, Berry, & Parasuraman, 1996) evaluated service quality and the gap between expectations and services received. Wikstrom (1996) described the buyer-seller interaction in the industrial market as a widely applied work logic, which can be applied to the service industry where the customer receives services delivered by the provider as he/she participates in the service process. Bendapudi and Leone (2003) examined the effects of choice of participation on customer satisfaction and found that when offered an identical outcome, also providing customers with a choice as to whether or not to participate in the process has an influence on customer satisfaction. Dellarocas (2003) discussed the effect of "word of mouth" on online feedback mechanisms in the digitized environment. Eroglu, Machleit, and Davis (2003) conducted empirical tests with online stores and shopper responses to find the causes of customer buying behavior.

Stiglitz (2001) concluded that the information economy has changed the paradigm of the market system economy, and according to Akerlof (2001) the situation of asymmetric information in which the seller/provider has more information than the purchaser/recipient could be eliminated by the individual's involvement and participation in the transaction process. Information asymmetry is even more pronounced in some Asian high-power-distance political-economic systems such as Cambodia, Vietnam, or North Korea. Koo, Koh, and Nam (2004) compared the strategies of 123 Korean firms including those that operated exclusively online and "click-and-mortar" companies. They concluded that online firms preferred the differentiation strategy but "click-and-mortar" companies preferred the focus strategy concentrating on a specialized field. As an NIC, Taiwan's power distance has been described as mid level (Hofstede, 1980, 1983) among all the countries he studied. Li (2004) studied media competition and performance in Taiwan's cable television industry and found a positive relationship between market competition and market performance. …