er behaIntern. J. of Research in Marketing 21 (2004) 241 – 263 www.elsevier.com/locate/ijresmar
A social influence model of consumer participation in network- and small-group-based virtual communities Utpal M. Dholakiaa,*, Richard P. Bagozzia, Lisa Klein Pearob a
Rice University, Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management, 6100 Main Street, 314 Herring Hall-MS 531, Houston, TX 77005, USA b Cornell University, Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA Received 8 May 2003; received in revised form 1 September 2003; accepted 5 December 2003
Abstract We investigate two key group-level determinants of virtual community participation—group norms and social identity—and consider their motivational antecedents and mediators. We also introduce a marketing-relevant typology to conceptualize virtual communities, based on the distinction between network-based and small-group-based virtual communities. Our survey-based study, which was conducted across a broad range of virtual communities, supports the proposed model and finds further that virtual community type moderates consumers’ reasons for participating, as well as the strengths of their impact on group norms and social identity. We conclude with a consideration of managerial and research implications of the findings. D 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. Keywords: Virtual communities; Internet marketing; Consumer behavior; Electronic commerce; We-intentions
A web of glass spans the globe. Through it, brief sparks of light incessantly fly, linking machines chip to chip, and people face to face (Cerf, 1991, p. 72) 1. Introduction Marketers have become more and more interested in learning about, organizing, and managing * Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 713 348 5376; fax: +1 713 348 6331. E-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org (U.M. Dholakia)8 email@example.com (R.P. Bagozzi)8 firstname.lastname@example.org (L.K. Pearo). 0167-8116/$ - see front matter D 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ijresmar.2003.12.004
virtual communities on their internet venues (Bagozzi & Dholakia, 2002; Balasubramanian & Mahajan, 2001). Such an interest stems not only from their ability to influence members’ choices, and to rapidly disseminate knowledge and perceptions regarding new products (e.g., Dholakia & Bagozzi, 2001), but also from the numerous opportunities to engage, collaborate with, and advance customer relationships actively in such forums. In the current research, consistent with the prevailing view (e.g., Rheingold, 2002; Wellman & Gulia, 1999), virtual communities are viewed as consumer groups of varying sizes that meet and
U.M. Dholakia et al. / Intern. J. of Research in Marketing 21 (2004) 241–263
interact online for the sake of achieving personal as well as shared goals of their members. Researchers have employed various theories such as social network analysis (e.g., Wellman & Gulia, 1999), life cycle models (e.g., Alon, Brunel, & Schneier Siegal, 2004), and motivational theories (e.g., Bagozzi & Dholakia, 2002) for studying virtual communities, examining such issues of marketing relevance as what draws participants to such communities, what they are used for, and how they influence the subsequent knowledge, opinions, and behaviors of participants. A common theme underlying many of these investigations is to better understand the nature and role of the social influence exerted by the community on its members (Alon et al., 2004; Postmes, Spears, & Lea, 2000; see Dholakia & Bagozzi, 2004 for a review). Bagozzi and Dholakia’s (2002, hereafter B&D) study provides a useful starting point for framing our discussion since it adopted a marketing lens to identify two key social influence variables, group norms, and social identity, impacting virtual community participation. Using the social psychological model of goal-directed behavior (e.g., Perugini & Bagozzi, 2001) and social identity theory (e.g., Tajfel, 1978) as underlying frameworks,...
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