E-commerce use in urbanising China: the role of normative social influence

Shizhan Zhu, Juan Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


In the past 30 years, China has undergone unprecedented urbanisation: the country's urban population surpassed that of rural areas for the first time in 2011. Despite its soaring popularity, the urban–rural divide in e-commerce use has been persistent and striking. How to promote e-commerce use among the new urbanites to ensure its sustainable development and reduce the digital divide in China's rapid urbanisation context? Drawing on the diffusion of innovations theory and the Theory of Planned Behaviour, using data from a survey of a representative sample of China's urban population (N = 1288), this study investigates the various effects of normative social influence on online shopping application and intention among urban residents, rural-to-urban migrants, and in-situ urbanised rural residents. Normative social influence is found to be significantly associated with actual online shopping application, particularly among in-situ urbanised rural residents. The research suggests that the new urbanities in China can benefit from e-commerce use if strategies focusing on expanding and strengthening normative social influence are promoted. Policies that intend to address the urban–rural digital divide in information and communication technology adoption should also consider approaching the issue by utilising the normative social influence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-367
Number of pages11
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2016


  • digital divide
  • e-commerce
  • ICT adoption
  • normative social influence
  • subjective norm
  • urbanisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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