Unblackboxing IT Certifications:
A Decompositional Analysis of IT Certifications in Electronic Markets and their Impact on Customer and Platform Provider Perceptions

Goal of the research project:

Buying in electronic markets has become an important part of everyday life during the twenty-first century. Yet, customers are facing new uncertainties (i.e., platform security issues or malicious online platform providers) and an increasing vulnerability regarding frauds (i.e., sharing sensitive (payment) information) compared to brick-and-mortar markets. These uncertainties and frauds make many customers reluctant or doubtful to engage in exchange relationships with online platform providers. To counteract these issues, practitioners and academics recommend to use and embed IT certifications, thereby reducing uncertainties and fostering the development of stable electronic markets.

However, the academic literature presents a pattern of inconsistent findings with regard to intended effects of such certifications. Moreover, previous studies primarily focus on whether or not displaying a certification has an impact on customers´ perception. Yet, a comprehensive analysis on which certification elements are essential for a certification to be effective has been neglected. Therefore, this project aims to identify and measure how different certification configurations influence customers´ and platform providers´ perceptions and thus IT certification´s effectiveness. Further on, previous literature has merely focused either on the customer or the platform provider perspective. Hence, as a second objective of this research project, we aim to compare and analyze perceptions of customers and providers to resolve emerging conflicts, and thereby increase certification effectiveness. Finally, various research has argued and shown that customers are not familiar with certifications, tend to have a limited understanding of embedded assurances or misunderstand them altogether, resulting in calls for innovative and informative certification designs. To address this gap, this research project analyzes how to design and display certifications to foster their effectiveness. Hence, this research project will result in essential insights about certification structuring, customers´ and providers perceptions about certifications, and finally certification design. Project findings will provide a fundamental basis for future research, enabling scholars to extensively and profoundly analyze IT certifications in electronic markets.

Key Data:


Project duration: Mai 2017 – April 2020

Funder: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)