Document Type


Date of Award

Fall 1-31-2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems - (Ph.D.)


Information Systems

First Advisor

George Robert Widmeyer

Second Advisor

Starr Roxanne Hiltz

Third Advisor

Julian M. Scher

Fourth Advisor

Sanchoy K. Das

Fifth Advisor

Jia Shen


Virtual worlds are computer-simulated worlds in which multi-players can simultaneously interact in a rich graphical environment. The development of virtual worlds, along with the massive growth of users, creates opportunities for business organizations. This dissertation involves many studies regarding virtual world adoption in business by virtual consumers.

Most of the research in Information Systems (IS) was conducted investigating factors influencing technology adoption, such as ease of use and usefulness, subjective norms and behavioral controls, self-efficacy, performance and effort expectancy, flow, etc. However, most of these research studies focused neither on design aspects related to affordances nor users' goal-oriented behaviors, such as need satisfaction.

This dissertation examines the effect of affordances, referring to a property of an object, animal, or environment that affords, or makes available certain actions. Particularly, this dissertation investigates the users' perceived affordance of virtual products and environments, in which business transactions take place. In addition, relationship-based trust and need satisfaction are considered as crucial determinants of virtual world commerce adoption in this dissertation.

There are three studies that were conducted in Second Life in this dissertation, which are two preliminary studies and a main study. The preliminary studies use multiple data collection methods, including user interviews, documentation, direct observations, and questionnaire surveys. The results of the preliminary studies suggest that trust, social influence, system security, system quality, and service quality are vital for users when they make purchase decisions. The initial measurement model containing valid and reliable measurement scales of the main research constructs was proposed.

The main study, using a revised questionnaire survey from the preliminary studies, was conducted to develop the conceptual framework of Virtual World Commerce Adoption (VWCA). Covariance-based and PLS-based path analyses were employed based on the data obtained from the participants who have different experience levels with online business transactions. The final results show a significant relationship between perceived affordances and intention to purchase products in the virtual world. This relationship is mediated by need satisfaction. However, the mediating effect of relationship-based trust is not significant. This is due to more concern about trust related to technical aspects of the system rather than trust from social exchange process.



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