In the Netherlands, over a million businesses regularly have to deal with complex matters imposed by the government (e.g., managing tax problems). To solve their problems, businesses have various potential sources to consult (e.g., Tax Office, advisor, friends/family). The myriad sources can be coupled with an increasing number of channels (e.g., face-to-face, telephone, website). Governments search for efficient service delivery strategies to support businesses, but these are not yet found. Although theories exist, that can help us understand a) why individuals use certain channels, and b) the processes by which sources are selected, there are two main drawbacks: 1) a lack of unified or generalizable theories and research outcomes, and 2) a lack of integration among theories focusing on channel and source selection processes. An exploratory qualitative study was conducted to identify and understand the underlying mechanisms behind source and channel choices. Single and focus group interviews were held with employees who are responsible for financial matters in their businesses. This resulted in a conceptual framework. A quantitative study was conducted among 1218 businesses of varying sizes to test the framework. The questionnaire designed for this study is a combination of various methods (e.g., Likert/Semantic differential scales, vignette method). One of the key conclusions is that selection processes for sources and channels are different. We reject the notion that sources and channels can be used as interchangeable conceptualizations. However, two notions are presented that put the difference into perspective: 1) there are interdependencies between both selection processes (e.g., the effect of source and relationship characteristics on channel choices) and 2) source and channel choices may occur as a clustered choice that consists of a single action (possible due to prior experiences). Further, although many existing theories present a generic model of choice behavior, our findings indicate that such a generic model does not exist since sources and channels fulfill various roles in information-seeking processes (with their own influencing factors). All this elucidates the importance of 1) studying source and channel choices in more real-life settings such as information seeking, and 2) creating an integrated theory of source and channel choices.
|Award date||26 Jun 2014|
|Place of Publication||Enschede|
|Publication status||Published - 26 Jun 2014|