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Waiting for service on the internet: Defining the phenomenon and identifying the situations

Gerard Ryan (Department of Business Management, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain)
Mireia Valverde (Department of Business Management, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 1 April 2005

Abstract

Purpose

E‐consumers consistently complain that the internet is frustratingly slow. Most existing research on this phenomenon is based on the concept of “download delay”, that is, the time required for a web page to fully download to the e‐consumer's computer screen. This paper reports on an exploratory study of the phenomenon of waiting for service on the internet with the intention of extending the narrow conceptualisation of the phenomenon of “download delay” to a more user‐based perspective of waiting on the internet.

Design/methodology/approach

The study is based on a qualitative research methodology. The research methods are seven asynchronous virtual focus groups involving 126 intensive internet users over 17 days and 92 participants who maintained personal diaries of waiting on the internet over a nine‐week period.

Findings

A new definition of waiting on the internet is proposed based on extensive virtual focus group research. Subsequently, 14 distinct types of internet waiting situations are identified based on the analysis of a total of 1,041 waiting situations as reported by the participants in the study.

Practical implications

A number of practical implications for various functional areas of the business are outlined. Conceptual and methodological contributions are also made.

Originality/value

The study is the first to present a broader conceptualisation of waiting on the internet from an e‐consumer perspective and based on empirical research. All previous research has been based on just one type of online waiting, i.e. waiting for web pages to download to the user's screen. This paper presents 13 “new” types of waiting situations on the internet.

Keywords

Citation

Ryan, G. and Valverde, M. (2005), "Waiting for service on the internet: Defining the phenomenon and identifying the situations", Internet Research, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 220-240. https://doi.org/10.1108/10662240510590379

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited