The impact of social learning in prosumption

Tianshu Sun, Ravi Bapna, Jae Hwuen Jung, Joseph Golden

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


With the wide adoption of information technology, a customer can now actively participate in the design and production process for a wide range of products, as a 'prosumer'. A significant portion of the value for those products is generated through the prosumption process. However, a major challenge in prosumption is the efforts involved and the ideas required in the process. In this study, we ask whether social learning, the act of showing the focal consumer creations made by other consumers, can improve customers' project creation and purchase decisions. Arguable, by showing others' product design to the focal customer, the firm may help the customer learn ideas from peers, reduce her cost and uncertainty in evaluating the product and improve their self-efficacy. We conduct a large scale randomized field experiment in close collaboration with an Ecommerce platform specialized in customized photo products, and examine whether and how other users' photo collage design would affect the product design and purchase behavior of the focal user. Our experiment shows that under certain conditions, showing other users' design can be highly effective in influencing the purchase and design behavior of the focal customer, but firms must choose the right customers and carefully select the type of user design at play. Our study is among the first to test and understand whether and how firms can leverage social learning to improve customer prosumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Information Systems 2018, ICIS 2018
PublisherAssociation for Information Systems
ISBN (Electronic)9780996683173
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Event39th International Conference on Information Systems, ICIS 2018 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: Dec 13 2018Dec 16 2018

Publication series

NameInternational Conference on Information Systems 2018, ICIS 2018


Conference39th International Conference on Information Systems, ICIS 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© International Conference on Information Systems 2018, ICIS 2018.All rights reserved.


  • Prosumption
  • Randomized field experiments
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social learning


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