PULLMAN, Wash. — Supported by a Marketing Science Institute grant, three Washington State University marketing scholars are asking Wall Street what works, and what doesn’t, when companies put brokerage business onto the Internet.

Associate professor Jean Johnson, student Amit Saini, and assistant professor Rajdeep Grewal received word in December that their research, “A Capabilities View of the Strategy Implementation for the Internet,” had been accepted for funding. In the upcoming year, they will poll decision-makers at 300-500 financial firms that engage in electronic commerce.

“This stamp of approval from MSI is a strong indication that our electronic commerce/marketing topic is of great and current interest to the business community,” says Johnson. “MSI is the lead and most prestigious granting organization in marketing, and its members include many of the leading companies in the world.”

The WSU researchers choose to study the “implementation” phase of strategy over the more well-understood “content” and “control” aspects, says Johnson. Within the topic of implementation, they plan to investigate several key issues — trust building, information technology capability, interfunctional coordination, and managerial commitment and buy-in. They are looking for qualitative answers to these three questions:

— “What impact do implementation capabilities have on the e-commerce/Internet performance of a firm?”
— “How is this influence moderated by the implementation culture of the firm?” And,
— “How is this influence moderated by the nature of the firm?”

“Nature” refers to the emerging stand-alone e-commerce firms versus hybrid firms that have both physical offices and broker/employees which customers can visit as well as online sites for customers’ financial transactions. Contemporary labeling jargon draws distinctions between these traditional “brick and mortar” firms and “bricks-and-clicks” firms.

With an MSI working paper deadline of February 2002, work has already begun. Saini traveled in December to New York City and conducted preliminary interviews with 15 financial and investment managers in the Wall Street financial district. Information gleaned will be incorporated into the researchers’ data collection guidelines. This month and next, they will telephone hundreds of target bricks-and-clicks brokerage companies to identify key informants on corporate implementation strategies. A survey will be mailed to the informants in April, followed by months of data analysis. The final results will be made available to MSI members early next year.

“Our results will give managers an enhanced understanding of key issues in implementing e-commerce strategies, of how firm culture affects implementation of critical strategies, and probably of the role of the bricks-and-clicks combination in e-commerce success,” says Johnson.

For more information on Drs. Johnson and Grewal and doctoral candidate Saini, go to http://www.cbe.wsu.edu/faculty/marketing/index.html. Additional information on MSI is available at www.msi.org.