Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

Effects of Social Capital and Community Support on Online Community Members' Intention to Create User-Generated Content

Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

Effects of Social Capital and Community Support on Online Community Members' Intention to Create User-Generated Content

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Because of the rapid development of Internet technologies, research on online communities with an emphasis of user-generated content (UGC) has attracted a substantial amount of attention [Shao 2009]. Data from eMarketer indicate that the user-generated content platform has attracted more than 1.61 billion users worldwide and generated more than $10 billion in advertising revenue as of the end of 2013. Furthermore, the number of users is expected to reach 2.33 billion in 2017 (www. eMarketer.com). Typically, online communities facilitate content transmission in which users collaborate to create and share UGC. The sustainability of online communities depends on the willingness of online community members to spend time and effort creating UGC and responding to other members' UGC. In the context of online communities, it is important to understand how to encourage members to continuously contribute to the creation of UGC and to assist other community members in sharing their content [Wiertz & de Ruyter 2007].

Because an online community is a virtual society, it is not surprising that many studies have explored the influence of social capital on individuals' participation behavior in online communities [Hung & Li 2007; Chang & Chuang 2011; Nov et al. 2012]. Social capital refers to the network of relationships possessed by an individual or social unit and the resources embedded within this network [A. Bandura 1986; Putnam 1995]. Wasko and Faraj [2005] indicated that concerns related to social capital are important in motivating individuals' UGC creation behavior in online communities. Similarly, Chiu et al. [2006] studied the influences of social capital on online knowledge sharing. On the basis of interaction among the members in a network, social capital can be classified into three dimensions: structural, relational, and cognitive [Nahapiet & Ghoshal 1998]. Structural social capital indicates the overall pattern of connections between members. Relational social capital focuses on the particular relationships that members have with one another, such as respect and friendship. Cognitive social capital refers to shared language, code, and narratives among members [Nahapiet & Ghoshal 1998]. Tsai and Ghoshal [1998] empirically tested how the three dimensions (structural, relational, and cognitive) of social capital interact with one another in the business units of a multinational company. Some researchers have found that different social capital dimensions have varying effects on online user behavior. For example, Scott et al. [2013] investigated the role of social ties in user content generation in online networks and found that content creation is more convenient for members with strong social ties. Hsu and Hung [2013] explored the interaction effects of paired dimensions of social capital on information system development performance at both the process and product levels. Although extensive research has examined the effects of social capital and its dimensions in online communities in general, little research has focused on dynamic changes in these effects. The present research seeks to extend the literature by exploring the dynamic change of the effect of social capital on individuals' behaviors in an online community. Specifically, using longitudinal data collected from a 6-year period, we aim to study whether three dimensions of social capital (i.e., structural, relational, and cognitive) have a stable and constant influence on members' intention to create user-generated content.

Furthermore, an online community can be regarded as an organization that clearly has management attributes. Successfully operating online communities depend heavily on the instructions and rules offered by the regulators or "elders" and "core" members who play the role of regulators in controlling the information flow and directing the online behavior of other members [Barzilai-Nahon & Neumann 2005]. …

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