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A Distributed Cognition Framework to Compare E-Commerce Websites Using Data Envelopment Analysis

Authors: C. lo Storto


This paper presents an approach based on the adoption of a distributed cognition framework and a non parametric multicriteria evaluation methodology (DEA) designed specifically to compare e-commerce websites from the consumer/user viewpoint. In particular, the framework considers a website relative efficiency as a measure of its quality and usability. A website is modelled as a black box capable to provide the consumer/user with a set of functionalities. When the consumer/user interacts with the website to perform a task, he/she is involved in a cognitive activity, sustaining a cognitive cost to search, interpret and process information, and experiencing a sense of satisfaction. The degree of ambiguity and uncertainty he/she perceives and the needed search time determine the effort size – and, henceforth, the cognitive cost amount – he/she has to sustain to perform his/her task. On the contrary, task performing and result achievement induce a sense of gratification, satisfaction and usefulness. In total, 9 variables are measured, classified in a set of 3 website macro-dimensions (user experience, site navigability and structure). The framework is implemented to compare 40 websites of businesses performing electronic commerce in the information technology market. A questionnaire to collect subjective judgements for the websites in the sample was purposely designed and administered to 85 university students enrolled in computer science and information systems engineering undergraduate courses.

Keywords: Website, e-commerce, DEA, distributed cognition, evaluation, comparison.

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