Contributors to exchange structures and their effects on community solidarity in online communities

Eunyoung Han (Korea Information Society Development Institute, Jincheon-gun, The Republic of Korea)
Kyung Kyu Kim (Department of Business Management, The State University of New York, Incheon, The Republic of Korea)
Ae Ri Lee (Department of Business Administration, Sangmyung University, Seoul, The Republic of Korea)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Publication date: 12 June 2019



The purpose of this paper is to investigate which exchange structure, direct or generalized exchange, better promotes community solidarity in online communities (OCs). Furthermore, it examines the moderating effects of activity intensity on the relationship between exchange structure and community solidarity in order to resolve the conflicts in extant literature.


The research model is developed based on the social exchange theory (SET). It also accommodates social structures as determinants of exchange structure, such as organizational identity orientation (OIO) and distributive justice norms. Data in this study were collected from 376 OCs through an e-mail survey.


Generalized exchange has stronger effects on community solidarity than direct exchange. Furthermore, there was a significant difference in the impact on community solidarity between generalized exchange and direct exchange at high-activity intensity levels, whereas no significant differences were found at low-activity intensity conditions. OIO significantly influences exchange structure. Additionally, equality norm significantly influences generalized exchange, whereas need norm significantly influences direct exchange.


In information systems research, there have not been any attempts to identify the determinants of exchange structure in OCs. Furthermore, only a couple of studies have empirically investigated the relationship between exchange structure and OC solidarity, and yet they found conflicting results. This research makes contributions to an enhancement of theoretical precision of the SET in two ways: by empirically examining the determinants of exchange structure, and by introducing a third variable, activity intensity, as a moderator of the relationship between exchange structure and OC solidarity.



Eunyoung Han, Kyung Kyu Kim and Ae Ri Lee (2019) "Contributors to exchange structures and their effects on community solidarity in online communities", Internet Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print

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