Developing and testing a framework for digital channel adoption in emerging markets

Patel, Muhommed Riyaaz
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The adoption rate of mobile applications in South Africa and India, both emerging markets, is lower than in developed markets. Emerging economies are unable to use developed market solutions and realise operational efficiencies in business, which can impact customer experience and satisfaction. The effect of digitalisation through mobile commerce in South Africa and India is gaining momentum; from banking to e-commerce, the acceleration of digitalisation is evident across emerging markets. New technologies and platforms are reshaping traditional business models and mobile application adoption is key to digital transformation and commercialisation. However, the context-specific aspects that drive digital adoption in emerging economies may still benefit from further research. This study aims to enhance the literature in this field by examining mobile application adoption in South Africa and India. It develops a model that incorporates the Technology Acceptance Model, Domestication Theory, and Bottom-of-the-Pyramid emerging market characteristics through qualitative analysis. In doing so, the study investigates how digitalisation trends interface with traditional technology adoption models, emerging market characteristics, and domestication characteristics (such as lifestyle integration and community influence). Therefore, by applying a sequential mixed-methods approach, the study seeks to determine the factors that influence mobile application adoption in emerging markets, and to investigate the influence of ecosystems and bottom-of-the-pyramid characteristics on the adoption and usage of technology. The qualitative study provides insight into factors that influence mobile application adoption in India and South Africa from a theoretical framework that was developed from a qualitative analysis and tested empirically. The analysis of 31 semi-structured interviews, 15 from South Africa and 16 from India, is conducted using Computer Assisted Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS) NVivo 12. Subsequently, the data is coded and the themes validated. The quantitative study comprises 2 061 survey questionnaire responses: 1 009 from South Africa and 1 052 from India. These are analysed using SmartPLS path modelling, whereby two structural equation models are developed. The findings suggest that perceived ease of use, perceived risk, perceived value, privacy, user environment, lifestyle integration, customer feedback, awareness and access are all associated with digital adoption. Mediation analysis is also investigated. It shows that awareness and xxi customer feedback mediate the relationship between perceived risk and perceived ease of use. Tests for moderation indicate that access and affordability moderate the relationship between constructs (awareness, customer feedback, and lifestyle integration) as it pertains to intention to use. The developed theoretical framework provides a description of the drivers of digital adoption in emerging markets, specifically in South Africa and India. The findings suggest that participants in India are more knowledgeable than those in South Africa regarding the benefits and use of mobile apps. The study contributes to existing literature and discusses implications for researchers and practitioners.
A thesis submitted to the in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, School of Business Science, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2021
Mobile applications, Digitalisation, Technology Acceptance Model, SDG-8: Decent work and economic growth, SDG-9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure, UCTD