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From horizontal to vertical relationships: how online community identification fosters sport fans’ team identification and behavioural intentions

Sungkyung Kim (School of Sport Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Argyro Elisavet Manoli (School of Sport Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)

International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship

ISSN: 1464-6668

Article publication date: 16 May 2022

Issue publication date: 17 January 2023

1166

Abstract

Purpose

With the remarkable advancements in information and communication technologies, comprehending online sport fan communities is being pushed further up in the agenda of sport teams worldwide. Based on social identity theory, the main purpose of this research paper is to test the mechanism of how horizontal relationships developed through online communities lead to vertical relationships such as team identification and behavioural intentions.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a sample of online baseball fan community members in South Korea (N = 400) and employing structural equations modelling, the current research examined the structural relations among online community identification, team identification, behavioural intention and WOM intention while testing moderating effect of perceived authenticity.

Findings

This study finds that online community identification has a significant positive impact on team-level consumer outcomes: team identification, behavioural intention and WOM intention. Team identification is verified as a significant determinant of both behavioural intention and WOM intention. Moreover, the partial mediating role of team identification in the relationships between online community identification and behavioural intentions are corroborated.

Originality/value

The present study furnishes essential information for identifying the underlying mechanism of how fan-to-fan horizontal relationships cultivate team-to-fan vertical relationships in the context of the virtual fan community.

Keywords

Citation

Kim, S. and Manoli, A.E. (2023), "From horizontal to vertical relationships: how online community identification fosters sport fans’ team identification and behavioural intentions", International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSMS-09-2021-0188

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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