Online communities are increasingly important for organizations and marketers. However, the issue of how structural features of online communities affect consumers' behavioral engagement remains relatively unexplored. The purpose of this study is to examine how and why different types of interdependence within online communities (i.e. task/outcome interdependence) influence individual engagement in group activities, thereby providing insights regarding online community design.
Two surveys were conducted with two online groups in China. One is a task-interdependent group from Douban Forum, and the other is an outcome-interdependent group from Sina Forum. A total of 159 valid responses from the task-interdependent group and 162 valid responses from the outcome-interdependent group were received. We analyzed the data using multivariate regression with Smart PLS and SPSS.
The results reveal that both task and outcome interdependence are positively related to individual behavioral engagement in online group behavior, and collective efficacy mediates the aforementioned effects. In addition, task complexity moderates the relationship between task interdependence and individual behavioral engagement; communication within group moderates the relationship between outcome interdependence and behavioral engagement, and the effect is mediated by collective efficacy.
This study is the first to investigate the role of an important factor of group structure, namely, interdependence, in fueling individual behavioral engagement in online communities. The results shed light on companies' design strategies to develop and retain online community members and also provide important insights for researchers interested in social network marketing.
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [grant numbers 71632001, 71672195, 71902003]; China Ministry of Education Foundation for Humanities and Social Science [grant number 19YJC630219]; and China Postdoctoral Science Foundation [grant number 2019M650380].
Zhang, X., Peng, L. and Gong, Y. (2020), "The impact of interdependence on behavioral engagement in online communities", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/MIP-05-2019-0285Download as .RIS
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