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Hierarchical value-attainment paths of CBEC consumers: a means-end-chain perspective

Xiao-Yu Xu (Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China)
Syed Muhammad Usman Tayyab (Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China)
Fang-Kai Chang ( Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan)
Kai Zhao (Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 13 November 2020

Issue publication date: 10 March 2021




This study elicits the critical attributes, consequences and values associated with the purchasing process in the context of cross-border e-commerce (CBEC). The purpose is to provide a better understanding of the fundamental factors that determine consumer values in CBEC.


The study applies the means-end-chain theory and soft-laddering techniques to interview 60 CBEC consumers to construct an implication matrix and a hierarchical value map (HVM) of the consumer purchasing process, consisting of attribute-consequence-value (A-C-V) paths.


By analyzing the significant linkages, elements, ladders and chains in the HVM, four dominant A-C-V paths were identified: economic-driven, efficiency-driven, progress-driven and quality-driven paths.

Research limitations/implications

This study included only Chinese CBEC buyers. This limitation might affect the generalizability of the conclusions as culture, purchase habits and economic development differ between China and other countries.

Practical implications

The results of this study provide CBEC practitioners an understanding of the consumer purchasing process and how consumer values are associated with platform characteristics. Thus, the results aid practitioners in allocating resources and developing CBEC platforms in an appropriate manner and direction.


This study sheds lights on the emerging phenomenon of CBEC. By applying the means-end-chain approach, the study provides a comprehensive HVM for interpreting the consumer online purchasing process in this novel context. By illustrating the dominant paths, this research provides deeper theoretical insights into the specific focuses of CBEC consumer purchasing.



This paper is developed from the authors’ research-in-progress manuscript presented in the seventh Taiwan summer workshop on information management (TSWIM, 2019) as “Eliciting consumer values in cross-border e-tailing: a mixed means-end chain approach.” This study was funded by National Social Science Foundation of China (grant numbers: 19CGL066) and Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan (grant numbers: 106-2811-H-004-006, 107-2410-H-212-001).


Xu, X.-Y., Tayyab, S.M.U., Chang, F.-K. and Zhao, K. (2021), "Hierarchical value-attainment paths of CBEC consumers: a means-end-chain perspective", Internet Research, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 699-736.



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