نقش موقعیت شبکه مصرف کنندگان بر رفتار جستجوی اطلاعات کارشناسان و تازه کار ها : چشم انداز قدرت
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|1831||2012||7 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Business Research, Available online 20 July 2012
Results from two studies demonstrate that depending on consumers’ network positions (peripheral or central), experts and novices behave differently when seeking information about their networks or products related to those networks. Experts in central network positions (vs. peripheral) seek more network-related information, while novices in the same positions seek more product-related information. In contrast, experts in peripheral network positions (vs. central) seek more product-related information, while peripheral novices seek more network-related information. Findings also suggest that desire for power (social or personal) mediates these relationships. Given the importance of social networks in consumer decision making, this research demonstrates the influence and importance of consumer's network position on information-seeking behavior of experts and novices.
What role does power have on consumers' information-seeking behavior? This question is important in marketing given that information about products is constantly being shared among consumer networks and information provided by others constitutes a significant proportion of the information search process (Flynn et al., 1996 and Kiel and Layton, 1981). Power refers to a person's ability to influence others and make them do things they would not do otherwise (Weber, 1978). As a relational variable, a person's power influences another person or group, representing an asymmetric relationship (Anderson & Galinsky, 2006). This power type is referred to as social power ( Lammers et al., 2009 and van Dijke and Poppe, 2006). However, power is also a person's ability to do and to get what they want, without outside influence (Emerson, 1962). That is, power can reflect individuals’ ability to take control over their own outcomes and to be independent of others' influences. This power type is referred to as personal power ( Lammers et al., 2009 and van Dijke and Poppe, 2006). Smith and Fink (2010) show a person's network location conveys information about that person's power. They conclude structural positions with higher centrality (one who has many ties) generate greater perceived social power than people residing in the network's periphery. Social capital theory suggests individuals’ network structure (who one is tied to and how one is tied to them) may provide individuals with unique benefits (e.g., power) because “social advantage is created by a person's location in a structure of relationships” (Burt, 1992, p.4). Since social power associates with interdependence rather than independence (Lammers et al., 2009), social power comes from occupying network positions with a more optimal social structure (Smith & Fink, 2010). Complicating the issue is how product-specific information accumulation serves as a proxy for power. For instance, French and Raven (1959) describe expertise as another form of power. Arguably, expertise in the consumer domain provides individuals with more personal power since they have higher cognitive capacity (i.e., beliefs about product attributes) and cognitive processing capacity (i.e., decision rules for acting on those beliefs) to perform product related tasks successfully and independently (Alba & Hutchinson, 1987). These individuals tend to be less dependent on others and are less influenced by the behavior of others. To extrapolate power's role on information-seeking behavior, this research seeks to understand how consumers' level of expertise and their network position interact to affect information-seeking behavior, and how desire for power (social or personal) acts as the motivating force behind this process. This inquiry fills a void in the extant literature. Prior researchers focus on how individual differences or social contexts change consumers' information-seeking behavior (e.g., Goldsmith and Clark, 2008 and Mitchell and Dacin, 1996); often overlooking how a network position affects consumer decisions. Consumer networks research exploring the network position's role primarily focuses on post-consumption processes (e.g., opinion leadership, social contagion, and information diffusion) (see Kratzer and Lettl, 2009 and Smith et al., 2007); often overlooking pre-consumption processes such as information-seeking behavior. Recent network research on pre-consumption processes (e.g., adoption probability) largely ignores how people utilize their social network positions to acquire product information (e.g., Katona, Zubcsek, & Sarvary, 2010; Watts & Dodds, 2007). Clearly, this research stream has much to gain by exploring how network positions and expertise jointly affect the information-seeking behavior of consumers, and how power (social and personal) plays an important role in this process. Going forward, there are reasons to speculate that experts and novices, as well as centrally- and peripherally-located individuals differ in the way they seek information from other people. Most likely, the type of information that consumers seek depends on this interaction such as association-product information (e.g., events, activities, and people of the club vs. specific-product information such as physical attributes, brands, and quality) (cf. Mitchell & Dacin, 1996). Furthermore, the desire for social or personal power likely mediates these relationships. This research explores this inquiry to set a framework for understanding novel insights into how the desire for power, expertise, and network position affects the flow of information in consumer networks.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Understanding consumers' positions in social networks and the unique benefits (i.e., power) associated with those positions is important to consumer behavior research (Kratzer and Lettl, 2009 and Van Den Bulte and Wuyts, 2007). An individual's network position affects their attractiveness as network members, the amount of access and the frequency of contact they have with other members in the network, and the power they have over others — influencing the degree of interaction and information-sharing that occurs within a network (Lee et al., 2010 and Marsden, 1987). Complementing this domain of research, the findings from two field-based studies demonstrate the unique role of network positions on information-seeking behavior of experts and novices. Study results offer interesting counterintuitive findings. Surprisingly, peripheral experts seek product-related information and peripheral novices seek network-related information. Given that peripheral experts already are equipped with product knowledge, they bolster their social power and seek unfamiliar information (network-related knowledge). Given that peripheral experts are in a disadvantaged position to receive this type of information, they desire to build on their personal power and enhance their product knowledge. Alternatively, these individuals possibly have no desire to equip themselves with network-related knowledge. If their club membership is primarily functional (rather than social), they have less motivation to build social power within the group. As for the peripheral novices, intuition says they seek product-related information because they have an initial interest in the product itself. However, the results demonstrate peripheral novices desire social power, equipping themselves with network-related knowledge to gain better access to others in the network. Another interesting findings is the difference between central experts and novices. Central experts seek network-related information via desire for social power. They use network-related information to connect with other people and use the knowledge to bolster their influence within the group. On the other hand, central novices desire personal power, preferring to seek product-related information to enhance their product knowledge. Their motivation to seek product-related information stems from wanting to be less dependent on others, maintaining their independence while protecting their structural position. Together, the findings from two network studies demonstrate experts and novices respond differently to their network positions, seeking information that is specific to their need (i.e., developing social or personal power). Given the dense complexity in the field of information search and acquisition, researchers should continue exploring and testing the dynamics of why these network positions and expertise differentially influence the behaviors of consumers. To further understand the patterns involved, conducting longitudinal studies to capture the changes in network positions, expertise, and desire for power may be useful. For instance, if central novices are unsuccessful in using their power to enhance their product knowledge, the resulting consequence is that it may weaken their structural position at a later point in time. Thus, a longitudinal analysis is appropriate in identifying the changes in behavior and consumers' network positions over time. The network relationships explored are strong dichotomous network ties (0 for absence, 1 for presence). This analysis does not capture the strength of these relationship ties (strong vs. weak ties) to determine differential impacts the information-seeking consumer behavior. In marketing, strength-of-ties studies reveal prolific insights. For instance, Brown and Reingen (1987) report that people looking for referrals are more likely to seek out strong ties than weak ties for help on their decision (influence), but use weak ties over strong ties for their knowledge (information). Unfortunately, exactly how consumers' structural positions and the strength of their social ties interact to influence consumer decision-making still stands as an unexplored inquiry in the literature. Perhaps individuals in central positions rely on their strong and weak ties in ways that are different from those located in peripheral positions (since they have fewer ties). Additionally, the power that consumers generate may depend on the strength of the relationship that they have with others. A member likely has more social power if he or she occupies a position in a web of close relationships than in a web of weak relationships. Thus, integrating the role of strength and types of ties with network positions may provide rewarding insights for future research. Additionally, the two network studies involve the exploration of off-line social networks, thus, it is unclear whether these findings can be translated into virtual, online networks. To date, understanding how centrality and expertise in online networks provide advantages and benefits for consumers remains relatively unknown (Goldenberg et al., 2009 and Van Den Bulte and Wuyts, 2007). In online settings, the lack of face-to-face interactions may increase one's personal power while reducing one's social power. Comparing results of off-line communities to online communities offers a research opportunity. Emerging internet and social media tools such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter compel marketers to examine how brands, culture, and social communication uniquely interact to play a role in consumers' information-sharing behavior. Popularity of peer-to-peer technologies is fuelling growth in virtual social networks and social commerce (e.g., Stephen and Toubia, 2010 and Tsang and Zhou, 2005). Extending this research framework to investigate the information-seeking and the information-sharing behaviors that attend those communities provides another compelling research direction. This research has several limitations. The field-based studies only investigate the role of consumers’ positions in a social network setting. Conducting sociometric-based network studies offer an extension necessary to further examine the research question. A shortcoming of network methodology and analysis is that the results are correlational, and thus, causality cannot be inferred from the data. Determining whether expertise, centrality, and power lead to information-seeking behavior or vice versa remains unclear. Thus, an experimental study could confirm the relationship's directionality. Next, the findings are limited within the artificial boundary of the social network since the data contain only those friendships that are developed between the club members. Although these friendships represent an important part of an individual's social environment, the social relationships external to the network (e.g., other campus clubs, other brand communities) may confound the overall results. In research's current form (a single network analysis) does not address consumers' involvement in other networks and how these relationships may impact their information-seeking behavior. Since consumers often have multiple networks (e.g, family, social clubs, religious organizations), it is beneficial to integrate inter-network along with intra-network analyses to further advance this field of research (see Sirsi et al., 1996). In closing, this research has direct implications to marketers and to consumer behavior. With the findings, marketers can use this knowledge to selectively target and customize their message to these consumers. Particularly, these findings are useful for companies to better access to their brand communities. Since central experts and peripheral novices seek network-related information, marketers should facilitate ways to enhance their receptivity to this type of information. Similarly, since peripheral experts and central novices seek product-related information. Marketers should devise methods to deliver product-specific information to these consumers (e.g., Hoffmann & Soyez, 2010). Therefore, marketers should consider both consumers' level of expertise and their network positions to better predict consumers' information-seeking behaviors.