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


Understanding online community members' intention to create user-generated content (UGC) can help in determining how to better manage online communities. Drawing on social capital theory and adopting the management perspective, this study investigated how online community members' social capital dimensions (structural, relational, and cognitive) and community support dynamically influence their intention to create UGC based on two waves of data collection in 2008 and 2014. The results demonstrated that cognitive social capital has a positive influence on members' intention to create UGC in the early stages of online communities and that community support for member communication is an important factor in encouraging members' UGC creation when online communities mature. In addition, the structural and relational dimensions of social capital were found to be non-significant in determining members' intention to create UGC. This finding suggests that members' intention to create UGC may not be dependent on the overall social interaction pattern or on their reciprocity with and trust in other specific individuals. The study provided an in-depth understanding of the roles of social capital and community support in the context of online communities.

Keywords: Social capital; User-generated content (UGC); Community support; Online community

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. 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. …

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