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The Making of a Modern Market: eBay.com

  • Author(s): Kashkool, Keyvan
  • Advisor(s): Fligstein, Neil
  • et al.
Abstract

This dissertation explores why and how eBay, an online, person-to-person, marketplace, evolved from a libertarian vision of the perfect market with minimal regulation and oversight into a complex set of governance structures. I use the case of eBay, one of the largest online retail sites in the world, to examine how market entrepreneurs--the market makers and designers within eBay and buyers and sellers on eBay--solve certain problems in the construction of a market. I use a mixed-method approach: I analyze two unique quantitative data sets and over 50 formal, in-depth and informal interviews to show that eBay's success required market makers and designers to address two fundamental problems: the technical problems of reducing risk and uncertainty in one-time exchanges, and mediating competition by managing a complex, diverse, and growing group of sellers and buyers with often incongruent interests. My dissertation explores the construction of alternative forms of governance of online markets; the formation and organization of trade-unions and seller communities and their influence on market rules; and eBay's relation to and involvement in the emerging eCommerce industry.

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