Positioning Online Consumer Reviews (OCRs) as a Form of Regulatory Governance and Exploring Methods for Addressing OCR Limitations
thesisposted on 15.06.2021, 14:13 authored by Lukas Parker
This thesis investigates the online consumer review (OCR) mechanism and process by positioning OCRs within the existing state and non-state regulatory structure, identifying limitations and problems of OCRs from multiple perspectives, and suggesting possible ways of addressing these limitations and problems. It examines the OCR mechanism to understand where it fits as a regulatory tool within the existing government and non-state set of regulatory arrangements, using the sustainable governance (Webb, 2005) concept and framework as a lens for analysis. The thesis suggests that OCRs are a new non-state way of regulating business behavior in which an online platform is created by a firm, and this platform provides a structured process for individual consumers to make and publish reviews of individual businesses, who then respond to these reviews in an effort to maintain or increase their profitability. The thesis then identifies key problems with the OCR approach and explores how conventional state-based approaches to consumer information (e.g. laws) and non-state approaches (e.g., multi-stakeholder standards) can address these problems, and by so doing, move from the current ad hoc state/non-state approach for the dissemination of consumer information about businesses to a more systematic and coordinated approach, in keeping with the concept of sustainable governance. The thesis draws on a literature review as well as surveys and semi-structured interviews to support its analysis.