Role of electronic trust in online retailing: A re-examination of the commitment-trust theory

Avinandan Mukherjee*, Prithwiraj Nath

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

416 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - Trust and commitment are the central tenets in building successful long-term relationships in the online retailing context. In the absence of physical interaction between the buyer and the seller, how websites can gain the trust of the buyers and deliver on the promises made have become central issues in online customer relationship management. This paper aims to re-examine the commitment-trust theory (CTT) of relationship marketing in the online retailing context. It seeks to theorize the antecedents and consequences of commitment and trust in the online context and identify how CTT can be adapted in a digitized business environment. Design/methodology/approach - Modified constructs and their measures are developed to understand the antecedents and the outcomes of commitment and trust. Survey data from British online customers (n=651) are used to test CTT hypotheses with structural equation modelling. Findings - The study suggests a significant modification to the traditional CTT model in the online environment. Privacy and security features of the website along with shared values are the key antecedents of trust, which in turn positively influences relationship commitment. Behavioural intentions of customers are consequences of both trust and commitment. The relationship termination cost has a negative impact on customer commitment. Research limitations/implications - The paper identifies interesting differences between the original work by Morgan and Hunt and the findings presented, but basically concludes that the commitment-trust theory applies to online retailing. Originality/value - Contributions of this study in re-examining the CTT model of relationship marketing in an online context are manifold. This paper proposes a modified model to understand the role of consumer trust and commitment in a digitized environment. The modified constructs and measures truly reflect the dynamism of online business. The extended CTT model can provide better insight into managing customer relationships in online retailing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1173-1202
Number of pages30
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number9-10
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2007
Externally publishedYes


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