The importance of virtual communities is growing day by day, since consumers are increasingly using online tools to share ideas and contact fellow consumers. For this reason, the purpose of this paper, which is based on relational capital theory, is to analyze what factors determine the consumer commitment to a virtual community.
A positive effect of trust in a virtual community on commitment to the community is suggested. In addition, some antecedents of trust placed in a virtual community are proposed. After the validations of measurement scales the hypotheses are contrasted through structural modelling.
The data show that trust placed in a virtual community has a positive and significant effect on consumers' commitment to that virtual community. Additionally, a general disposition to trust, a greater familiarity with the community and a stronger norm of reciprocity in communication in the community may increase the level of trust placed in a virtual community.
Data were collected thanks to a web survey using Spanish‐speaking members of free software virtual communities. Thus, it would be interesting to carry out a new validation of the model using other types of virtual communities and a wider sample of consumers, particularly in terms of different nationalities.
This study has shown how managers may foster trust and commitment toward a virtual community in order to ensure the community's success and survival in the long term; that is, the ongoing participation in the community.
Most of the works that are focused on virtual communities have been conducted at the conceptual level. Thus, with the aim of progressing this topic, the study analyzes empirically the precursors of trust and commitment to a virtual community.
Casaló, L.V., Flavián, C. and Guinalíu, M. (2008), "Fundaments of trust management in the development of virtual communities", Management Research News, Vol. 31 No. 5, pp. 324-338. https://doi.org/10.1108/01409170810865145
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited