Ongoing Research

The Protestant Work Ethic and the Adoption of Smart Products

Smart products free consumers from daily chores by taking over manual tasks that consumers used to perform. We argue that the protestant work ethic (PWE) acts as barrier to the adoption of smart products, with consumers high in PWE subscribing to the notion that effort and hard work yield desirable outcomes. A series of field and experimental studies, employing measures and manipulations of PWE at the individual and country level, show that high (vs. low) PWE reduces the adoption of smart products. Specifically, consumers high in PWE derive more meaning from manual tasks, which in turn reduces their willingness to delegate these tasks to smart products. However, high PWE consumers are more willing to adopt smart products after learning that the time gained by using smart products can be used for more meaningful activities, providing an effective intervention for firms.

Further Reading

de Bellis, Emanuel and Gita Venkataramani Johar (2020), “Autonomous Shopping Systems: Identifying and Overcoming Barriers to Consumer Adoption,” Journal of Retailing, forthcoming.

Leung, Eugina, Gabriele Paolacci, and Stefano Puntoni (2018), “Man versus Machine: Resisting Automation in Identity-Based Consumer Behavior,” Journal of Marketing Research, 55 (6), 818-831.

Porter, Michael E. and James E. Heppelmann (2014), “How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition,” Harvard Business Review, 92 (11), 64-88.

Rijsdijk, Serge A. and Erik Jan Hultink (2009), “How Today’s Consumers Perceive Tomorrow’s Smart Products,” Journal of Product Innovation Management, 26 (1), 24-42.

Schmitt, Bernd (2019), “From Atoms to Bits and Back: A Research Curation on Digital Technology and Agenda for Future Research,” Journal of Consumer Research, 46 (4), 825-832.