مدلسازی رابطه بین سرمایه اجتماعی به واسطه فناوری اطلاعات و حمایت اجتماعی : مکانیسم های میانجی گری کلیدی حس گروه
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|4312||2012||13 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Volume 79, Issue 9, November 2012, Pages 1592–1604
This study proposes a model based on social capital theory to explain the formation of social support in virtual groups. Although previous literature suggests a direct effect of social capital on social support in face-to-face groups (e.g., working teams), it remains uncertain if such an effect exists completely in the same way among virtual social groups that count heavily on computer-mediated communication. In this study's proposed model, social support is indirectly influenced by social capital and need for affiliation via the mediation of sense of group (which includes perceived membership, mutual influence, and immersion). Empirical testing of this model, by investigating working professionals in online social networking communities, confirms the applicability of social capital and need for affiliation among virtual groups. Group-level data were analyzed by the technique of path analysis to test our hypotheses. Lastly, managerial implications and limitations of the research are provided.
Business organizations to date face dramatically volatile and turbulent competitive threats in global markets . Effectively coping with such unexpected threats and taking advantage of them as opportunities lay heavily upon the ability of group social support in organizations . Social support is considered “the exchange of verbal and non-verbal messages conveying emotion, information, or referral, to help reduce one's uncertainty or stress” . Social support is critical due to its close relationship with people's physical and psychological well-being . For instance, a buffering effect of social support is found to ameliorate the influence of physical or mental health factors such as depression, stress, irritation, anxiety, and somatic symptoms . Despite social support transferring substantially from a real world to a virtual one in work settings due to rapid diffusion of social networking IT  and , scant attention has been paid to online social support that is substantially different from face-to-face social support, given the geographic dispersed nature of computer networks , the willingness of social networking IT users to trust and interact with online others , and the frequent participation of social networking IT users in online activities across virtual groups . The online social support in this study can be conceptualized as online actions that people perform when they render assistance to a focal person via social networking IT . The behavioral descriptions of our social support herein can be referred as “enacted” support that is substantially different from perceived support of availability and social embeddedness  and . Collectively, the online social support in this study (i.e., enacted support in virtual communities) complements previous literature by evaluating what people actually do in virtual communities (e.g., Facebook) when they provide support, a research question that many studies have identified as critical for understanding coping and adjustment processes , , , ,  and . Based on previous literature that examines both online and face-to-face social contexts , , , , , ,  and , this study summarizes the primary characteristics of online and face-to-face social contexts to better recognize their differences (see Table 1), highlighting potential improvements that may be made in the arena of online social support in this study.Previous literature has explored how the use of social networking IT may be associated with social support and psychological well-being with mixed results , , , , , , ,  and . While some research argued that online social relationships may detract from social involvement with friends more strongly than offline ones , , , , , , , , , ,  and , others found that weaker ties generated online might replace offline ties with family and friends  and . When examined over a longer period of time, online social support can be more efficient with improved communication and involvement with family than face-to-face social support , because online interactions and social support mitigate less loss in communication with others than offline ones . In an experiment, Shaw and Gant  found increases in perceived social support and self-esteem following engagement in online chat sessions. Valkenburg and Peter  found that socially anxious adolescents perceived the social networking IT to be valuable for intimate self-disclosure, resulting in more online social support. The proliferation of the social networking IT is facilitating technological and social changes that have been developing for decades in the ways that people contact, interact, and obtain resources from each other in a workgroup  and . Using social networking IT, people in workgroups often adjust their social behavior to technological and social change . Previous literature indicates that the emergence of new applications of social networking IT such as the establishment of virtual communities and the development of online social capital has excited considerable speculation about the technological innovation and social changes that could arise and be influential in global societies of the future . Indeed. Social networking IT strengthens group solidarities in virtual communities and affords a turn for networked societies that used to be loosely bounded and sparsely knit . Nevertheless, little is known about the factors that drive group members to use social networking IT in order to obtain online social support , even though abundant findings in previous research have successfully examined IT usage from individuals' perspective. For that reason, investigating a potential paradigm shift regarding social support from co-located groups to virtual groups is essential in a modern business world full of social networking IT, which has helped bring about tremendous effects on virtual sense of group (or community) , , , , ,  and . Online social support plays a critical role in a virtual group, which is inherently regarded as an innovative form of a social network linking people, organizations, and knowledge . A virtual group is a set of social relationships forged through repeated contacts within the boundary of cyberspace  and can be defined as “a group of people with common interests or goals, interacting predominantly in cyberspace” . Improved knowledge of the key determinants of online social support for virtual group members can help management prioritize human resources that are effectively tailored to the perceptions of virtual group workers, consequently improving group social support. Specifically, social support that involves online social affiliations by linking people or institutions together should not be studied in isolation, but rather be integrated into social networking based on a group in which they obtain such social support through sense of group  and . Sense of group represents members’ feeling of relationship to the group or their knowledge about belonging to a collective that includes others . Sense of group can be viewed as members’ perception of similarity to other members and an acknowledged interdependence with each other . Given that online social support (e.g., online helping) is much more valuable to a group than an individual to generate effective actions or good performance in organizations  and , this study's goal extends the viewpoint of sense of group to incorporate the notion of online social support and empirically tests the predictive ability of such sense of group in virtual communities, complementing previous research on traditional communities. Formally stated, the research questions of interest to this study are as follows. RQ1. What factors are valued the most by virtual group members for improving their sense of group? RQ2. What role does the sense of group play in boosting social support in virtual groups? This study differs from previous research in two critical ways. First, most contemporary models of IT usage, such as the technology acceptance model (TAM) , the motivational model (MM) , and the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT) , have ignored the role of social support in professional networking groups. This study examining the relationship between social support and its determinants based on virtual groups demonstrates that it is worthwhile for management to invest in organizational initiatives directed at building social support. Some previous studies of social support focus on the level of individuals rather than the level of group. It should be noted that since sense of group is defined as a group level construct, we will never achieve a true understanding of it without group level research . Second, this study is a pioneer in empirically validating whether sense of group fully or partially mediates the relationship between social support and its exogenous variables. Such a mediating issue (fully vs. partially) from a group perspective has never been assessed in previous studies. For that reason, by clarifying the determinants of social support and their direct or indirect effects on social support in a group, this study helps management in learning how to effectively leverage social support through key mediators.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study empirically confirms the indirect effects of social capital and need for affiliation on social support through a key mediator: sense of group. The findings of this study are an important complementary to previous research that mostly focused on direct relationship between social capital and social support without taking sense of group into account , ,  and . Web-based social support groups are widely used and powerful in practice, but little is known how they can function effectively . This study fills such a research gap by describing how social support can be effectively obtained through its key antecedents (social support and need affiliation) and mediators (i.e., perceived membership, mutual influence, and immersion) at a group level. The managerial implications based on the findings of this study are further clarified in the following. First, the positive effect of sense of a group (perceived membership, mutual influence, and immersion) on social support suggests that sense of group can be taken as monitoring instruments for management to examine whether social support in a group is available or not. This is important, because theoretically social support is expected to help employees cope with the negative effects of unfavorable factors such as stressors . Previous research indicates that the level-of-analysis ambiguity partially explains why the empirical evidence confirming the role of social support is rather inconsistent, thus suggesting that social support and its predictors (e.g., social capital) should be examined based on groups , which becomes an important contribution of this study. Second, the positive effect of social interaction on sense of group suggests that sense of group can be appropriately developed and maintained through online social interaction. Previous literature underlining the importance of social interaction states that the social process of developing a shared understanding through interaction is the natural way for people to learn about their group . Given that social interaction represents a reciprocal process in which people effectively initiate and respond to social stimuli presented by their group peers, management promoting sense of group among working professionals should reward mutual engagement of participants in an online coordinated effort to solve the problem together . Third, the positive effect of trust on two dimensions of sense of group (i.e., perceived membership and mutual influence) suggests trust can orient group members towards strengthening their pride at being a member (e.g., perceived membership) and increasing each others’ importance (e.g., mutual influence). Thus, management should reinforce a trusting relationship between online group members by providing them professional courses of dialogues to facilitate mutual understanding and trust , consequently boosting perceived membership and mutual influence of group members. For instance, Hansen et al.  suggested that trust among members is one of the important predictors of group cohesion, which is a measure of the strength of members’ desire to remain in a group and their commitment to its membership. Fourth, the positive effect of shared language only on one dimension of sense of group (i.e., perceived membership) indicates that perceived membership can be effectively improved by similar experiences, beliefs, verbal communication, and norms (i.e., shared language) . Therefore, management should establish a common conceptual framework or terminologies to form shared language for addressing or dealing with group issues . In that case, perceived membership can be further boosted. Finally, the positive effect of need for affiliation on all three dimensions of sense of group indicates that members' perception of sense of group is substantially determined by their social motives such as need for affiliation . While Davidson et al.  reported a significant relationship between need for affiliation and psychological sense of community in a family setting, this study complements their research by presenting that such a relationship similarly exists in social contexts beyond a family setting. Due to the benefit of a need for affiliation to increase social support, managers should stir up people's need for affiliation by encouraging online social activities (e.g., group blogs or group games). Managers should convey to employees that the group is committed to them and accepts them as welcomed members, which would help facilitate their need for affiliation . Employees with a high need for affiliation can be appropriate candidates for virtual group work since they are more likely to keep a strong sense of group and eventually practice social support.