Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Information

Understanding Exchangers' Attitudes and Intentions to Engage in Internet Bartering Based on Social Exchange Theory (SET) and the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA)

Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Information

Understanding Exchangers' Attitudes and Intentions to Engage in Internet Bartering Based on Social Exchange Theory (SET) and the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA)

Article excerpt


Barter is an act in which two parties trade goods or services without the transfer of payment. Those who barter often bring goods that they no longer find necessary in the hope of exchanging them for goods from other participants (Flanigan, 2008). With the rapid growth of the Internet and the constraints of economic recession, online bartering has come to be seen as a new channel for consumers to acquire goods that they want (Blackwell, 2013). In Internet bartering, one participant (hereafter, exchanger) provides a list of his or her goods on a barter exchange website, and other exchangers bring different goods in order to make exchanges for the listed goods (Devries, 2014). Both exchangers benefit from exchanging these goods and services, and bartering enables people who lack money to obtain goods and services that they need. In addition, the bartering of second-hand items reduces the demand for new goods (Thomas, 2003), mitigates waste, and acts as a counterpoint to today's disposable economy.

Bartering on the Internet is on the rise worldwide (Lee, Chen, & Hung, 2014). Global barter transactions account for approximately 23% of the total value of worldwide business transactions, which is estimated at $15.9 trillion (Pop, 2014). Moreover, a report by Barter News Weekly shows that almost one-third of all small businesses in the U.S. and 65% of corporations listed on the New York Stock Exchange are involved in some form of bartering (Toth, 2014).

Apart from business-to-business (B2B) network bartering, customer-tocustomer (C2C) online bartering is becoming increasingly popular among Internet users because of today's harsh economic environment. Craigslist, one of the largest online classified ad websites, indicates that the number of bartered items posted increased by 100% in 2008 (Forsloff, 2009). Internet bartering has also become acceptable in Taiwan. Many Internet bartering websites and apps have emerged, such as the E1515 website ( and Swapub app ( Swapub, founded in 2015, offers a bartering platform for users to trade almost anything. There have been more than one million downloads, 600,000 users have signed up, and one million products have been available for exchange.

Despite the growing popularity of online bartering, there has been scant academic research on Internet bartering behavior. Research on what motivates Internet users to barter online is needed, both to provide insight into the industry and to offer information and suggestions for future development. Because of the difficulties encountered while measuring online bartering behavior, previous studies usually refer to intention in order to measure consumer behavior (Venkatesh, 1999). The focus of the current study is on the exchangers' intentions to engage in Internet bartering. The theory of reasoned action (TRA) has been shown to be sound when it comes to investigating intentional behavior from both the personal and social perspectives, and it has been applied in the investigation of intentions and attitudes toward new technology (Tarhini, Arachchilage, & Abbasi, 2015). Specifically, TRA indicates that social behaviors are motivated by individual attitudes, and is specifically designed to predict information systems use. Therefore, it is suitable for us to explore the factors influencing exchangers' attitudes toward Internet bartering from the perspectives of personal perception and social factors.

Internet bartering, like online auctions, lacks face-to-face interactions and requires negotiation and trust between strangers. The uncertainty and risk of online transactions are reduced, and a positive intention toward transaction behavior is created as trust increases between exchangers. Social exchange theory (SET) indicates that exchange behavior is determined by a comparison between cost and benefit. Trust, a core concept of SET, plays a critical role in the creation and maintenance of social exchange relationships (Blau, 1964), such as purchasing online (Wang, Wang, & Liu, 2016), and sharing knowledge in virtual teams (Chen & Hew, 2015; Liang, Chang, Rothwell, & Shu, 2016). …

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