Marketing on the World Wide Web: An empirical investigation of the relationship between strategy and the performance of corporate web sites

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration


Clint B. Tankersley


web sites

Subject Categories



The Internet and the World Wide Web are currently enjoying phenomenal growth rates. It is estimated that over 35 million people in 130 countries now have access to the Internet and that number is expected to reach over 200 million by the end of this century. Most of the growth in Internet use can be attributed to its rapid commercialization. Today, there are thousands of firms that use the Web to conduct a broad range of business activities such as market research, customer service, advertising, and selling. The Web offers businesses the ability to interact directly with their customers and present information in an engaging hypertext, multimedia format.

In this dissertation, the relationships between strategy and the performance of corporate Web sites were investigated. The results of the study have important managerial, theoretical, and methodological implications and are based on the responses of 176 senior-level managers whose small businesses operated a corporate Web site. More specifically, the dissertation studied the relationships between business-level strategy, functional-level strategy, and three measures of Web site performance. For the business-level strategy relationships, the results revealed that multi-objective sites, especially those with a mix of transactions and image/product information objectives, had the strongest association with the performance measures. Furthermore, a certain level of transactions as a Web site objective also appeared to be desirable as demonstrated by the relatively strong association between that objective and the financial performance of the Web sites.

For the functional-level strategy relationships, the results indicated that the importance placed by managers on advertising their Web site was strongly and positively associated with all three measures of performance. Furthermore, the frequency of Web site updates, the importance placed on market research activities, the number of order methods and payment methods available at the site, and the number of visitors to the Web sites were also positively associated with the performance of the site. The results also suggested a lack of association between firm characteristics, types of products and Web site design features, and the performance measures.


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