Consumers and Producers
In the last few decades, advances in information and communication technology have dramatically changed the way consumers and producers interact in the marketplace. The Internet and social media have torn down the information barrier between producers and consumers, leading to increased transparency. Moreover, while in the past there was a clear distinction between production and consumption of goods, nowadays this distinction is more blurred. Consumers are often involved in the production process of firms, or even create and sell products by themselves. In this dissertation, I examine some consequences of these changes for both consumers and producers.
First, I focus on consumers. Given the enormous availability of information on the Internet, consumers are exposed to information about company strategy that is not immediately relevant for consumption decisions. Here, I investigate how consumer behavior is influenced by exposure to information about company acquisitions. Second, I focus on consumer-producers, consumers who engage in production and online commercialization of goods. I investigate the psychology of consumer-producers, and especially the factors that keep them motivated in spite of scarce economic returns. Finally, I turn to individual producers (e.g., workers in factories). I investigate whether providing personal information about the consumer is a viable intervention for reducing the distance between producers and consumers that characterizes post-industrialized production settings.
By taking the different perspectives of consumers, consumer-producers, and producers, this dissertation uncovers some of the opportunities and challenges introduced by recent advances in information and communication technology.