What makes online community members commit? A social exchange perspective

  • Jin B
  • Park J
  • Kim H
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Abstract

A growing number of firms are using online communities (OCs) as integral parts of their strategies because of the value an OC provides to a firm. This study maintains the commitment to an OC to be critical in developing a sustainable OC and examines how members' commitment to an OC develops in the context of OCs hosted by firms and freely available to anyone. Built on the social exchange theory, the proposed model posits that two aspects of OC attributes (Sociability and Usability) facilitate members' participation in an OC, as well as bring social and functional benefits to participants. In return for the benefits gained from OC participation, participants reciprocate with affective and calculative commitment to the OC. Data were collected via online survey from OC participants who were 18 years old or above and resided in South Korea. An analysis of 595 cases supported the proposed model. Results indicated that the members' perceived social benefits from active OC participation led to an affective commitment to the OC, while members' perceived functional benefits led to a calculative commitment to the OC. Theoretical and managerial implications were suggested based on the findings.

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Authors

  • Byoungho Jin

  • Jin Yong Park

  • Hye-Shin Kim

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