PACIS 2020 Proceedings


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The effectiveness of online social referral systems (such as mobile app social referrals) as a means of new customer acquisition is investigated in this study from the perspectives of the referral proposer and responder. Specifically, a 2×2×2 within-subject experiment (N = 38) and a between-subject quasi-field experiment (N = 138) were conducted to explore the effects of referral information order (between app introduction and referral reward), social distance (between the proposer and the responder) and reward size (large versus small) on both the proposer’s willingness to send a referral and the responder’s decision to accept a referral. The results reveal that given reward primacy, close distance and large rewards, proposers’ referral intentions may be higher with complicated interaction effects, while only social distance may influence responders’ decisions. This paper sheds light on social referral systems research and provides practical suggestions for managers designing app social referral systems.



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