اثر سرمایه اجتماعی بر وفاداری جامعه در یک جامعه مجازی : آزمون مدل سه جانبه فرایند
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|4333||2012||8 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Decision Support Systems, Volume 54, Issue 1, December 2012, Pages 750–757 Cover image
Drawing upon social capital theory and social exchange theory, this study attempts to elaborate the effect of social capital on community loyalty in a virtual community by proposing and assessing a tripartite-process model. Online gaming communities were selected as the research context for testing the model. After collecting 347 usable responses from a globally leading Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG), this study confirms that a player's social capital in an online gaming community affects his or her community loyalty through normative, relational, and utilitarian processes. The results also show that resource accessibility has a positive impact on perceived game utility, which in turn affects community loyalty. Finally, we conclude with research limitations and theoretical and managerial implications.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project reported that almost 84% of U.S. Internet users belong to certain online communities . An online community is defined as an online group of people who interact with each other, share norms of behavior, and even act in a collective way ,  and . Past research has indicated that online communities have impacts on Internet users' activities, such as social ,  and , knowledge , ,  and , consumption , and gaming ,  and . Recently, online service providers have created virtual communities to strengthen inter-customer exchange with the intent of increasing individual transactions  and ; customer loyalty toward the communities may affect the revenues of these providers. Online communities create a new context for an individual to develop and accumulate social capital  and . Although free riding appears to be a problem in virtual communities, online social capital serves as an intangible force that binds members together and increases their commitment to the community . Social capital encompasses any aspect of a social structure that generates valuable consequences and facilitates an individual's actions within that social network . Specifically, an actor's structural social capital is associated with either utilitarian benefit as resource accessibility  and  or relational affect as interpersonal trust  and . To maintain social capital, an actor in a social network is likely to engage in resource and relational exchange with other members . Relational exchange often contains both affective and normative aspects  and . Such distinction is important to link social capital research to recent virtual community studies  and . However, researchers have paid more attention to resource benefits than relational outcomes  and . In addition, past online community studies have examined the direct effects of social capital on users' behaviors, including knowledge sharing ,  and , the use of social networking websites  and , community participation , and Wikipedians' performance . Relatively few studies have tested the relationships between online social capital and its consequences that lead to an individual's community loyalty. The distinction between the sources and consequences of social capital is consistent with recent advances in social capital research ,  and . Therefore, the purpose of this study is to develop and examine a tripartite-process model of how an individual's social capital affects his or her community loyalty. Drawing upon social capital theory and social exchange theory, we differentiate the normative, relational, and utilitarian processes of social capital on community loyalty. We expect that these processes mediate the relationship between social capital and community loyalty. We investigate this with empirical data collected from online gaming communities. Online gaming communities are fundamental social units in the context of a Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG). With the rapid growth of the MMOG market, the development of online gaming communities will strongly determine the success of an MMOG company.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
6.1. Summary of this study The current study provides strong support for our tripartite-process model of social capital in a sample of MMOG players. Social capital in an online gaming community has indirect impacts on community loyalty through the normative, relational, and utilitarian processes. In the normative process, the results showed that social capital in a virtual community affects one's perceived social norms, which increases one's intention to stay in the community. This is consistent with previous virtual community research . However, one brand community study found that the normative influence has no significant impact on member continuance intention . Our study differs from this previous research. In an MMOG environment, some difficult challenges may carry a limitation in the number of available team members. To complete these challenges, a player may have no choice but to join and behave as the community expects, even though he or she is sometimes unwilling to participate in collective activities. In the relational process, this study supported the notion that an actor's strong embeddedness within a virtual network creates a sense of social trust and confidence that enhances his or her social behaviors in the community. Community trust can effectively reduce the fear that members will engage in opportunistic behavior . These findings are in line with prior studies that have ascertained a positive relationship between member's trust and loyalty activities, such as knowledge sharing, in a virtual community ,  and . Additional analysis showed that the indirect effect of social capital on community loyalty through perceived community trust is higher than that through perceived social norms and resource accessibility. The relational process of social capital appears to be more influential in online gaming communities. In the utilitarian process, our findings showed that social capital in a virtual community has a positive impact on one's resource accessibility, which in turn improves one's loyalty toward the community. In an MMOG, online gaming communities act as repositories of resources that are available to each member, including virtual money, valuable objects, member support, and services. The more social capital an actor develops in a community, the more resources the actor can reach and use, and the longer the actor intends to stay in the community. Furthermore, our results confirmed the partially mediating role of perceived game utility between resource accessibility and community loyalty. Similar to social capital research  and , we suggest that resource accessibility helps a player succeed in difficult tasks. It generates a positive perception of game utility, affecting his or her retention in a guild. 6.2. Theoretical implications Our tripartite-process model provides a holistic framework for understanding and explaining the indirect linkage of online social capital and community loyalty. This study contributes to social capital and virtual community research in several ways. First, our results showed that individual centrality and social interaction ties are well developed and validated to capture our conceptualization of social capital. For some virtual communities, user information is largely protected by online service providers. Collecting objective data that represent social capital in an online community appears to be methodologically difficult. Our subjective approach may help future researchers probe the effects of social capital on member activities in other online communities. Next, previous research has argued that there might be a relationship between structural and relational dimensions of social capital ,  and ; however, relatively few studies have examined such relationship, especially in the context of online communities. This study confirmed that a player's structural social capital positively affects his or her perceived social norms and community trust, leading to community loyalty. The results also provided support for the mediating roles of these normative and relational elements pertaining to online social capital. Third, we extend social capital literature by distinguishing the normative and relational influences based on recent developments in online community research . There might be different structural determinants for community norms and relational affect. Thus, our distinction appears to be contributory for future research to identify and examine other types of sociological antecedents that relate to social capital. Finally, our results indicated that the effective integration of social capital theory and social exchange theory provides a structural view to explain a player's social exchange in an online gaming community. As social aspects of the virtual world become important, we recommend that future research incorporate social capital into other theories to probe more sociological processes of online community loyalty. 6.3. Managerial implications The results of our study provide strong reasons for operators of MMOGs to promote their members to accumulate social capital in a virtual community. Online social capital can create high degrees of perceived social norms, perceived community trust, and resource accessibility that will in turn secure members' loyalty toward the virtual community. To effectively activate the influences of social capital, detailed operation of the factors in the three processes should be continuously examined by the operator. First, perceived social norms develop primarily through members' strong connections to others in a virtual community. MMOG companies need to encourage members' social interactions with each other. We suggest that social networking communities may be created outside the game for each community. The out-of-game communities are helpful for members to strengthen guild-based social capital and their social relationships, as well as to deepen collective consensus and sense of community. This implication is consistent with recent developments in social games that attempt to connect player interactions with social networking communities (e.g., Facebook) out of the games. Second, this study recommends practices that should be implemented to increase an actor's expectations and perceptions that other guild members will not act opportunistically and create potential hazards. Since perceived trust is a type of psychological and intangible property, virtual community managers can establish a trust-rating system. An actor's credibility, reliability, and trustworthiness could be rated or provided by other members who frequently exchange with the focal actor. These ratings could be displayed and reviewed publically in an online community. When an actor observes that members' ratings of trust in a community are high, the actor's perceived community trust will improve. The actor is more likely to interact with these members and stay in the community. Third, resource accessibility from an online community has positive impacts on a member's perceived utility and community loyalty. In general, an individual's motivation to share and exchange valuable resources appears to be weak. There is a need for managers to establish adequate mechanisms to activate resource exchanges within online communities. Since incentive and reward are considered an extrinsic motivation to share knowledge in virtual communities , we suggest that offering community incentives and rewards may be a helpful way to increase a player's willingness to share and exchange his or her resources with guildmates. Another suggestion for MMOG companies is that in-game tasks of resource exchange be designed for a player to complete in his or her guild. These tasks would lead to a higher level of game utility, positively affecting the player's retention in the community. 6.4. Limitations These findings should be interpreted against several limitations of this study. First, social capital was measured subjectively by players in this study. Although this approach allowed us to evaluate construct reliability and validity, future research could collect objective data from online gaming communities to capture a player's structural properties of social capital. A second limitation is that this study was based on cross-sectional data. Since a virtual community is often dynamic and evolving, the ongoing relationships between social capital and its outcomes may change over time. A longitudinal design is recommended to test the evolution of social capital in a virtual community. A third limitation is that WOW was selected as the target MMOG due to its representativeness in Taiwan. However, the generalization of our results may be limited. Future research could collect data from different types of MMOGs to assess the external validity of our tripartite-process model.