Portrait of Dr Des Laffey

Dr Des Laffey

Senior Lecturer in E-commerce

About

Des is a Senior Lecturer in E-commerce at Kent Business School. He has been a lecturer for 20 years and has taught at the Universities of Bradford, Humberside and Hull in the UK, in Greece, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. 

Dr Laffey is interested in the role of digital marketing in organisations and society. He joined the University in 2000 to set up the MA in E-Commerce, an online programme established in collaboration with the ifs School of Finance and major financial institutions. 

Des also holds the position of Head of Academic Disciplinary Committee. 

Research interests

Social media, online gambling, search engines, comparison websites and new venture creation. 

Des has international recognition of his research:

  • Ranked 9th in the world in Information Systems Research (2007-2009)
  • Co-Editor of the Journal of Strategic Management Education (2009-2012)
  • Guest Editor of a Special Issue of the International Review of Entrepreneurship (2009). 
  • His research papers are used as reading material at other Universities with his paper “Paid Search: The Innovation that changed the Web” required reading on Digital Marketing modules at several US Business Schools. 

He is involved in the wider academic community and has presented at a range of conferences. He was a track chair for European Marketing Issues at the Academy of Marketing Sciences conference in Monterey in 2013. Des has given invited seminars at the Universities of Oxford, Cranfield, Manchester and Stirling.

Teaching

Des teaches modules in the Digital Marketing field to undergraduates and postgraduates. 

  • CB602 E-Marketing (undergraduate)
  • CB587 E-Commerce and Business (undergraduate)
  • CB903 Economics of the electronic marketplace (postgraduate)

His teaching consistently receives excellent feedback from students and draws on his research to ensure the modules are leading edge. Recognition of this came from the award of a University of Kent Faculty Teaching Prize on the use of Twitter in his modules in 2011. 

Supervision

Current Supervisees:

Past Supervisees: 

  • Mathew Todres: What Makes Social Enterprise 'Social'?
  • Andrew Robertson: A Website Service Quality Model for B2B SME's
  • Zheng Zeng: Quantitative Modelling of Marketing for E-Commerce
  • Adel Salloum: Investigation of influencing factors of IT adoption in National Health Services in the UK

Professional

Des has delivered corporate training programmes and consultancy for organisations in the Oil and Gas, Media, Financial Services and Telecommunications sectors. He also collaborates closely on research in financial services with the ifs School of Finance. 

Des has been an external examiner at Surrey University and Nottingham Trent University. 

Publications

Article

  • Laffey, D., Della Sala, V. and Laffey, K. (2015). Patriot games: the regulation of online gambling in the European Union. Journal of European Public Policy [Online] 23:1425-1441. Available at: http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1080/13501763.2015.1105281.
    The recent economic crisis has brought into focus how even open and highly interdependent economies in the European Union try to govern their economies according to territorially defined interests. The aim of this article is to examine an area, online gambling, with the technological and legal conditions that challenge approaches that favour economic patriotism. The article compares two cases, the United Kingdom and Italy, that represent two different models of economic governance to argue that they are similar in which interests they seek to protect and at which level.
  • Laffey, D., Lowe, B. and Gandy, A. (2015). Online Retail Financial Services in a Changing World. Service Industries Journal [Online] 35:499-501. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02642069.2015.1048432.
    After the hype of the dot-com boom and the lessons which were learnt, financial services have seen the emergence of many successful innovations. Falling search costs through comparison websites, search engines and review websites have lowered information asymmetries enabling consumers to compare prices and products. The online environment has also changed dramatically with the emergence of social media, and in recent years mobile, and the challenges this poses for organisations.
    This special issue is thus topical and makes a contribution both to researchers who focus on online services, and particularly financial services, and to managers looking for guidance.
  • Lowe, B., d’Alessandro, S., Winzar, H., Laffey, D. and Collier, W. (2013). The Use of Web 2.0 Technologies in Marketing Classes: Key Drivers of Student Acceptance. Journal of Consumer Behaviour [Online] 12:412-422. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cb.1444.
    With the proliferation in Web 2.0 technologies, many marketing educators are experimenting with new teaching and learning tools (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Second Life). The benefits of such technologies are often touted by scholars, and indeed, there is a good deal of evidence to support such a view. However, increasingly, educators are highlighting some of the limitations of technology in the learning environment. To draw parallels with other new product research in marketing, the adoption of new learning technologies is often not so widespread. The literature exhibits inconsistency about the willingness of students to adopt new technology in a learning environment, but no systematic research into the factors that affect technology acceptance yet exists. This research fills a gap in the literature by applying an augmented Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) to understand students' future intentions to adopt Twitter, a Web 2.0 technology shown to offer students a variety of benefits. By using partial least squares, the research shows that the main proximal driver of student adoption of Twitter is a utilitarian attitude. Students need to be convinced about ‘what's in it for me’, rather than persuaded about the technology's hedonic benefits. Other affective variables such as an individual's affinity with computers and risk tolerance were also found to be important drivers of perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness, the TAM's key antecedents.
  • Lowe, B. and Laffey, D. (2011). Is Twitter for the Birds? Using Twitter to Enhance Student Learning in a Marketing Course. Journal of Marketing Education [Online] 33:183-192. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0273475311410851.
    Recent years have seen unprecedented possibilities for the use of different technologies to enhance learning in marketing courses. Given the rapid and widespread diffusion of these technologies, particularly within the demographic of the student population, it is pertinent to explore and examine how such technologies can benefit student learning. This article discusses and empirically evaluates students’ experiences of using Twitter as a tool to facilitate learning in marketing courses. Although Twitter’s unique characteristics were used to enhance and facilitate the learning of marketing concepts, the use of Twitter also helped illustrate marketers’ use of innovative technologies and, therefore, added valuable contemporary curriculum content. Using in-depth interviews, and a questionnaire to evaluate learning outcomes, this research concludes that students’ perceptions of using Twitter were largely positive, though some anticipated and unanticipated barriers emerged to incorporating Twitter into marketing courses. Recommendations for adopting Twitter into the marketing curriculum are made, and future areas for research are identified.
  • Laffey, D. (2010). Comparison websites: Evidence from the service sector. Service Industries Journal [Online] 30:1939-1954. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02642060802627558.
    Comparison websites, also known as aggregators, have become a prominent aspect of e-business. They enable users to specify their requirements and then select from a range of sellers usually ranked according to price. Comparison websites also appeal to sellers as they refine users who are then more likely to buy. This paper analyses comparison websites using Amit and Zott's value creation in e-business model, with a specific focus on the service sector, drawing on secondary material and case studies from the UK. The paper also outlines the limitations of the value creation model, implications for practitioners and outlines areas for future research.
  • Laffey, K. and Laffey, D. (2010). Risky Business: London’s Listed Firms and their American Gamble. Journal of Strategic Management Education 6:265-282.
  • Laffey, D. and Gandy, A. (2009). Applying Stabell and Fjeldstad’s Value Configurations to E-Commerce: A Cross-Case Analysis of UK Comparison Websites. Journal of Strategic Information Systems [Online] 18:192-204. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsis.2009.10.002.
    This paper analyses the comparison website sector in the UK using what Stabell and Fjeldstad (1998) term the three generic value configurations: the value chain, the value shop and value network. Drawing on secondary material and case studies from the United Kingdom, the key finding is that these frameworks all offer partial explanations of value creation in comparison websites. An amended version of the value chain termed the click chain, outlined by Laffey (2009), is most effective in explaining the source of online traffic for comparison websites and in explaining their costs and revenues. This is an important finding as the literature has identified the value chain as being of limited relevance outside of the manufacturing sector. In addition the value shop offers insights into how the sector deals with more complex products such as mortgages and life insurance, whilst the value network helps to explain the growth of comparison websites. The paper also suggests how this framework can be used for e-commerce markets in general before it concludes.
  • Laffey, D. and Gandy, A. (2009). Comparison websites in UK retail financial services. Journal of Financial Services Marketing [Online] 14:173-186. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/fsm.2009.15.
    Comparison websites have become a fundamental part of UK retail financial services. These websites appeal to both buyers and sellers. They offer buyers the ability to enter their details once and then quickly compare a range of products, usually ordered by price. For sellers they offer a supply of potential customers who have refined their needs through the comparison process and are thus more likely to complete a purchase.

    This paper analyses the role of comparison websites, drawing on case studies with three major providers of UK financial services comparisons. The paper also analyses the criticisms made of comparison websites, draws out implications for practitioners and consumers and outlines areas for future research.
  • Laffey, D. (2009). Click Trading: A Case Study Of Moneynet. Journal of Strategic Information Systems [Online] 18:56-64. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsis.2009.01.001.
    Moneynet, launched in 1997, was the United Kingdom’s first comparison website in financial services. It enables its users to specify their needs and then select from suitable product providers, who in turn benefit from potential customers with refined needs.
    This article makes both a theoretical and applied contribution to the Information Systems literature. It develops an amended version of the Porter value chain, which it terms the click chain, as a theoretical framework which is then used to analyse Moneynet. This framework analyses how Moneynet creates value and in doing so identifies key implications for comparison websites and product providers.
  • Laffey, D., Hunka, C., Sharp, J. and Zheng, Z. (2009). Estimating Advertisers’ Values for Paid Search Clickthroughs. Journal of the Operational Research Society [Online] 60:411-418. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.jors.2602570.
    Paid search is an important form of online advertisement. Clickthroughs from slots are bid for by advertisers. The process of formulating bids is a complex one involving bidders in competing against other advertisers in multiple auctions. It would be helpful in managing the bidding process if it were possible to determine the values placed on a clickthrough by different advertisers. The theory of two models for estimating advertiser values and associated parameters is presented. The models are applied to a set of data for searches on the term Personal Loans. The results of the model that fits the data better are evaluated. The utility of the model to practitioners is discussed. Some issues raised by the results about the role of bidding agents and the discriminatory power of Customer Relationship Management systems are considered. Ways to develop the preferred model are outlined. It is suggested that the model has implications for evaluating forecasting methods for use in paid search auctions.
  • Laffey, D. (2009). Glasses Direct: A Case Study of Market Entry in the UK Opticians Market. Journal of Strategic Management Education [Online] 5:45-56. Available at: https://www.senatehall.com/strategic-management?article=347.
    Glasses Direct, a 2004 start-up founded by a student James Murray Wells, represented a major threat to the operations of UK opticians. Its major innovation was to offer prescription glasses at up to 90% cheaper than available on the high street, disrupting the price stability which characterises the oligopolistic industry.The case study analyses the market entry of Glasses Direct and its rapid growth, the controversy it has caused and its future prospects. Analysis of the case requires the use of theory from strategy, entrepreneurship, economics and e-commerce.
  • Laffey, D. (2009). Web 2.0 - New World or Old Hype?. International Review of Entrepreneurship 7:95-110.
    Web 2.0 was added to the complex vocabulary of the Internet in the first decade of the new millennia. It is a nebulous term which has been used to describe some of the most prominent recent entrepreneurial ventures of the Web; social networking such as MySpace and Facebook, user generated video with YouTube, the micro blogging service Twitter, and virtual worlds such as Second Life. The term, however, is controversial being described as “hype” by the founder of the Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. This article analyses what Web 2.0 means in the entrepreneurial context, drawing on a range of examples. The paper identifies a lack of revenue streams in Web 2.0 as a fundamental problem, drawing parallels with the dot com boom. A further contribution of the paper is the connection made to the rivalry of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, who have provided exit opportunities for Web 2.0 entrepreneurs and funders, in the absence of a Web 2.0 IPO market.
  • Laffey, D. and Sharp, J. (2008). Paid Search Wars, Communications of the Association for Information Systems. Communications of the Association for Information Systems [Online] 22:589-602. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.17705/1CAIS.02232.
    This case analyzes the complex interactions between firms in the interrelated areas of search engines and portals after the dot com crash of 2000. Overture, a 1998 start-up, had transformed the online advertising market through the innovation of paid search, in which advertisers bid for top position for search terms. These results were provided to the portals and appeared alongside organic search results when a search was done. But Overture became a victim of its own success as the portals used their audience control to gain a greater share of advertising revenues. Google entered the paid search market in 2002 which ultimately led to Overture losing its independence and becoming a Yahoo subsidiary in 2003. As Google grew rapidly and expanded into other markets Yahoo and MSN attempted without success to counteract its influence. By February 2008 Google had been the clear winner of this rivalry, with Yahoo severely weakened. This culminated in an attempted Microsoft takeover of Yahoo with the main aim of stopping Google, a development Google was determined to prevent. This led to Google cooperating with Yahoo on paid search and Microsoft subsequently withdrawing its bid in May 2008.
  • Laffey, D. (2007). The ultimate bluff: a case study of partygaming.com. Journal of Information Technology [Online] 22:479-488. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.jit.2000096.
    June 2005 was to bring online gambling out of the shadows and into the spotlight. PartyGaming, a start-up formed in 1997, launched a flotation (Initial Public Offering) on the London Stock Exchange that valued the firm at 4.64 pound billion giving it a larger market capitalisation than British Airways. PartyGaming had become the dominant player in the booming online poker market with its PartyPoker brand having over 50% market share. However, this float - as with Internet gambling in general - was not without controversy. While PartyGaming had an online gambling license from the tax haven of Gibraltar, nearly 90% of its revenue came from the United States, where the authorities viewed Internet gambling as illegal and threatened legal action. The complex operations of this truly global firm with bases in London, India, Gibraltar and Canada, the background of its founder Ruth Parasol in Internet pornography and the handling of its flotation also raised concerns from an ethical perspective, with some commentators questioning whether the float should have been allowed at all. These concerns were then confirmed as US legislation to curb online gambling was passed in September 2006, leading to PartyGaming's exit from the US market and an immediate fall of 58% in the share price. This case study analyses the entrepreneurs behind PartyGaming, its growth, the challenges it has faced, the ethical issues it poses and its future prospects. The case draws on theory from e-commerce, strategy and ethics.
  • Laffey, D. (2007). Paid search: The innovation that changed the Web. Business Horizons [Online] 50:211-218. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2006.09.003.
    Search engines are key to the operation of the World Wide Web. This
    centrality, however, presents challenges: search engine providers face the problem of
    revenue generation when users expect free content, while advertisers need to
    attract the interest of searchers. The innovation that effectively addresses these
    challenges is the use of text advertisements based upon search topic, known as paid
    search. The method entails advertisers competing for top listing position through
    bidding in ongoing auctions and then paying when users click on their advertisements,
    making paid search a flexible and accountable form of advertising. Since its
    introduction in 1998, paid search has become the dominant form of online advertising
    and led to Google's $140 billion market capitalization in 2006. This article analyzes
    the emergence of paid search and the mechanics of its operation, and offers
    managers guidance on its effective usage.
  • Laffey, D. (2006). The Nostalgia Network: A Case Study of Friends Reunited. Management Online Review [Online]. Available at: http://morexpertise.com/download.php?id=33.
    In the early years of the new millennia Friends Reunited became a dramatic addition to the popular culture of the United Kingdom. Friends Reunited was launched with minimal funding from a back room in London in 2000 offering a website which put old friends back in touch with each other. After a slow start growth was dramatic and Friends Reunited received wide coverage in the UK media. By 2005 it had 12 million members and was sold to the UK broadcaster ITV for £120 million. The case study analyses the entrepreneurs behind Friends Reunited, its start-up and rapid growth, the challenges it has faced and its future prospects. Analysis of the case requires the use of theory from strategy, entrepreneurship, economics and e-commerce.
  • Laffey, D. (2005). Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the United Kingdom Betting Industry: The Rise of Person-to-Person Betting. European Management Journal [Online] 23:351-359. Available at: https://doi.org/doi:10.1016/j.emj.2005.04.013.
    The emergence of Web based ventures in 2000 offering person-to-person (P2P) betting represented a genuine revolution in the oligopolistic United Kingdom betting industry. The radical innovation of P2P betting was that it enabled punters (the term for betting customers) to lay (accept) bets, a role that had previously been the preserve of bookmakers. This created a free market in betting offering dynamic markets to punters and also enabled trading style activities as seen in financial markets. P2P betting flourished and by 2004 it was estimated that it accounted for up to 25-30% of UK betting turnover. However, the oligopolistic bookmakers claimed that P2P betting encouraged cheating as corrupt insiders could lay bets on horses riding to lose. In response the P2P firms argued that these criticisms were levelled at them solely for commercial reasons, and that rather than encouraging corruption, P2P betting brought innovation and transparency to betting markets.
  • Laffey, D. (2005). Against the Odds - Case Study of Betfair.com. International Journal of Entrepreneurship Education 3:99-114.
    Betfair can claim to be Britain’s greatest dot com success story. Launched in 2000 its radical innovation was that it enabled people to bet (wager) directly against each other thus cutting out the dominant bookmakers. Rejected by venture capitalists, Betfair raised £1 million (UK Pounds) from private investors and successfully entered the oligopolistic UK betting industry. By 2005 it had made such an impact that it was rumoured to be preparing for an IPO which would value the company at £700 million.
    The case study analyses the entrepreneurs behind Betfair, its start-up and rapid growth, the product innovation Betfair has brought, its impact on the UK betting industry, the challenges it has faced and its future prospects. Analysis of the case requires the use of theory from entrepreneurship, economics and e-commerce.
  • Laffey, D. (2004). The Rise and Fall of the Dot Com Enterprises. International Journal of Entrepreneurship Education 2:167-202.
    This paper looks at the dot com phenomenon drawing mainly on examples from the USA where the boom started and was most pronounced, but also from the UK which had a number of high profile dot coms. It starts by asking the question, ‘Who were the dot coms?’. It then goes on to consider the factors which led to the emergence of the dot coms such as the emergence of the commercial Internet, the lowering of entry barriers which followed from this and the funding available for new businesses through venture capital.
    The article also looks at the reasons why it was believed that the dot coms represented a threat to established businesses. The article then looks at the booming IPO market for dot coms and the opportunities this provided for exit by venture capital investors.
    The crash of 2000 is considered, lessons are drawn for entrepreneurs and investors and finally the article looks at future prospects for the dot com sector.

Book section

  • Lowe, B., Lowe, J., Lynch, D. and Laffey, D. (2012). Non-price Drivers of Household Water Consumption. In: Hulbert, B., Harrigan, P. and Harris, L. eds. Marketing : Catching the Technology Wave : Academy of Marketing Conference. Southampton, England: University of Southampton.
    The unique role of marketing in bringing about voluntary behavior change is becoming more important in addressing a wide variety of societal challenges. Particular challenges where the role of marketing is becoming more prominent include a vast array of environmental issues (Kotler 2011). The research presented here outlines a social marketing intervention, Project Hydro, which was initiated to reduce household water consumption in a drought affected part of Australia. Project Hydro has led to a 30 percent reduction in household water consumption over five years. In contrast to costly supply side solutions, this research identifies key drivers of household water consumption, using a large scale survey extending the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) to the context of household water consumption. Implications for policy makers and social marketers are discussed.
  • Laffey, D. and Reid, P. (2010). Search Engines: Past, Present, Future. In: Lee, I. ed. Encyclopedia of E-Business Development and Management in the Digital Economy. IGI Publishing, pp. 1256-1265. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.4018/978-1-61520-611-7.
  • Laffey, D. (2006). The Rise and Fall of the Dot Com Enterprises. In: Burke, A. E. ed. Modern Perspectives on Entrepreneurship. Co. Dublin: Senate Hall Academic Publishing, pp. 111-145.
    This paper looks at the dot com phenomenon drawing mainly on examples from the USA where the boom started and was most pronounced, but also from the UK which had a number of high profile dot coms. It starts by asking the question, ‘Who were the dot coms?’. It then goes on to consider the factors which led to the emergence of the dot coms such as the emergence of the commercial Internet, the lowering of entry barriers which followed from this and the funding available for new businesses through venture capital.
    The article also looks at the reasons why it was believed that the dot coms represented a threat to established businesses. The article then looks at the booming IPO market for dot coms and the opportunities this provided for exit by venture capital investors.
    The crash of 2000 is considered, lessons are drawn for entrepreneurs and investors and finally the article looks at future prospects for the dot com sector.

Monograph

  • Laffey, D. (2008). Ethics or Euros? Policy towards Cross-Border Gambling in the European Union. University of Kent Canterbury. Available at: http://www.kent.ac.uk/kbs/research/working-papers.html.
  • Laffey, D. (2008). Risky Business: London’s Listed Gambling Firms and Their American Gamble. University of Kent Canterbury. Available at: http://www.kent.ac.uk/kbs/research/working-papers.html.
  • Laffey, D. (2004). The Rise and Fall of the Dot Com Entrepreneurs. Kent Business School.
    This paper looks at the dot com phenomenon drawing mainly on examples from the USA where the boom started and was most pronounced, but also from the UK which had a number of high profile dot coms. It starts by asking the question, ‘Who were the dot coms?’. it then goes on to consider the factors which led to the emergence of the dot coms such as the emergence of the commercial Internet, the lowering of entry barriers which followed from this and the funding available for new businesses through venture capital. The article also looks at the reasons why it was believed that the dot coms represented a threat to established businesses. The article then looks at the booming IPO market for dot coms and the opportunities this provided for exit by venture capital investors. The crash of 2000 is considered, lessons are drawn for entrepreneurs and investors and finally the article will look at future prospects for the dot com sector.

Conference or workshop item

  • Laffey, D. and Gandy, A. (2013). Why do Financial Services retailers use comparison websites. In: British Academy of Management.
  • Laffey, D., Plannger, K. and Nel, D. (2013). Marketing Golden Bytes: A revised online value creation model. In: AMS Conference.
  • Todres, M., Lewis, P. and Laffey, D. (2012). Just Add and Stir A critical Appraisal of the Social Entrepreneurship Studies. In: Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Available at: http://www.isbe.org.uk/ISBE2012.
  • Lowe, B., Laffey, D., d’Alessandro, D. and Winzar, H. (2011). Student Acceptance of Twitter in Marketing Course: An Application of the TAM. In: 15th Annual AMS World Marketing Congress.
  • Laffey, D., Lowe, B. and Gandy, A. (2011). Social Media: Past, Present and Future. A Review of the Literature. In: 15th Annual AMS World Marketing Congress.
  • Laffey, D. (2005). Against the Odds - Case Study of Betfair.com. In: Research in Entrepreneurship: Bridging Theory and Practice Conference.
    Betfair can claim to be Britain’s greatest dot com success story. Launched in 2000 its radical innovation was that it enabled people to bet (wager) directly against each other thus cutting out the dominant bookmakers. Rejected by venture capitalists, Betfair raised £1 million (UK Pounds) from private investors and successfully entered the oligopolistic UK betting industry. By 2005 it had made such an impact that it was rumoured to be preparing for an IPO which would value the company at £700 million.
    The case study analyses the entrepreneurs behind Betfair, its start-up and rapid growth, the product innovation Betfair has brought, its impact on the UK betting industry, the challenges it has faced and its future prospects. Analysis of the case requires the use of theory from entrepreneurship, economics and e-commerce.
  • Laffey, D. and Sharp, J. (2004). Evaluating the Quality of Local Authority Websites in England. In: The 4th European Conference on E-Government. Academic Conferences International.
    A high quality website is an effective way for a local authority to demonstrate its commitment to the UK Central Government’s agenda to modernise local government.
    This suggests that English local authorities deemed Excellent by the Audit Commission’s Comprehensive Performance Assessment should have high quality websites. This notion is explored by evaluating the quality of the e-service offerings of four representative Excellent English local authorities using a tool based on e-servqual, a methodology originally developed to evaluate financial services websites.
Last updated