Date of Award

Winter 2001

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration-Marketing

Committee Director

Earl D. Honeycutt, Jr

Committee Member

J. Taylor Sims

Committee Member

Edward Markowski


There exists an electronic digital divide within the United States. This digital divide concerns access to the Internet and its corresponding technologies. The U.S. government is concerned about the digital divide because it appears that certain ethnic groups and income levels are being excluded from computer technologies and the Internet. These groups include African Americans and Hispanics, who are lagging the Caucasians significantly in gaining access to the Internet. For a while the gap between majority and minority groups appeared to be widening. Since Internet access is a prerequisite to electronic commerce, an understanding of the relationship between the digital divide and marketing is important. Numerous Federal, State, and Local governments are trying to reduce or eliminate the digital divide to ensure equal access to all citizens. Marketing would benefit if equal access also meant increased electronic commerce.

Business leaders are also concerned about the digital divide because it affects access to the Internet and corresponding technologies. If the consumers are denied access to the Internet, it will be difficult for them to participate in business to consumer (B2C) level electronic commerce. However, this research has shown statistically that solving the problems of the digital divide will not necessarily aid business to consumer level electronic commerce. The research has further found that the apparent reasons for the digital divide, currently thought to be income, education, and ethnic orientation, may be less important than initial government surveys indicate.

The research demonstrates that between Internet access and consumer intent to purchase goods and services in business to consumer electronic commerce lies at least three other considerations that need to be addressed by business leaders. These areas are: consumer trust, consumer commitment, and consumer involvement with Internet technologies. All are important links between using the technology at all and using the technology for business to consumer electronic commerce. The research also shows that these three areas have a combined relationship to the magnitude of the digital divide. Thus, any actions that affect these constructs will also affect the digital divide.

Business leaders seeking to engage in business to consumer electronic commerce must pay attention to consumer trust, consumer commitment, and optimizing the consumer experience (involvement) when using the Internet. Not addressing these issues proactively will increase the likelihood of failure while engaging in electronic commerce.