The Moderating Role of Online Community Participation in the Relationship between Internal Marketing and Organizational Citizenship Behavior

Article excerpt

Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) is concerned with employee behaviors in the workplace. People who perform citizenship behaviors in their employment are expected to go beyond the basic requirements of the job, in order to enhance the company's performance. There are five variables that are considered as important determinants of organizational citizenship behaviors: job satisfaction, organizational commitment, perceptions of fairness, perceptions of leadership supportiveness, and employee morale (Dimitriades, 2007). Internal marketing and OCB are considered to be highly related because the variables of job satisfaction and organizational commitment can be enhanced by internal marketing (Hwang & Chi, 2005). Cheng et al. (2006) identified a significant correlation between the internal marketing of a business and the OCB of the employees.

Lee, Vogel, and Limayem (2002) defined a virtual community as a digital-based environment supported by technology where participants develop relationships with one another through communication and interaction. The development of online communities in industry has coincided with businesses becoming more aware of the burgeoning development of the Internet (Weng & Chen, 2009) and these communities have served diverse functions, by creating online platforms in which knowledge management and sharing, staff interaction, professional training, thought leadership, customer relationship building, product marketing, and internal communication can be carried out. In light of these advantages, a growing number of businesses have begun to promote the creation of such communities in order to increase competitiveness. However, the success of an online community relies heavily on the OCB of the employees involved in the online community; that is, the willingness of the members to be active in sharing knowledge and to interact with one another.

There is currently a large body of literature (Kankanhalli, Tan, & Wei, 2005; Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Paine, & Bachrach, 2000; Weng, 2005; Zhu, 2007) in which researchers have focused on whether or not virtual community members perform OCBs, and in which online communities have been examined as a platform used by members, instead of as a potential factor influencing OCB. Given that users' involvement in an online community plays a fundamental role in its development, it is worth exploring whether or not active participation will catalyze the realization of OCB.

In some studies (Chou, 2007; Huang & Yen, 2009; Wang & Lee, 2005) researchers have found that online community participation had a moderating effect on some relationships involved in internal marketing and OCB but these findings were not specifically related to the relationship between internal marking and OCB. Therefore, as there is limited research available in which evidence is provided of the interaction or moderating effect of online community participation on the relationship between internal marketing and OCB, in the present study our aims were to examine the influence of internal marketing on OCB in a company promoted by an online community, and also to establish whether or not online community participation acts as a moderator on this relationship.

Literature Review and Hypotheses

Internal Marketing

Bell, Menguc, and Stefani (2004) stated that internal marketing strategies promote the positive treatment of employees, and enhance the relationship between employees and the organization by providing support and ensuring effective communication. Internal marketing can be presented in a variety of forms, such as training, motivation, reward system, internal communication, and exchange relationship (i.e., affective interaction among staff). Internal marketing causes employees to be more likely to perceive the goals of the enterprise for which they work, and thus show willingness to make contributions toward the realization of those goals. …