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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/192092
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- Determinants of success for online communities: an empirical study
- Trembath, Leanne
- The traditional notion of community is typically tied to a specific population or geographical location. Contemporary communities, however, are not necessarily limited by geographical boundaries. Over time, practices and communication patterns have changed and an increasing number of people are now using the internet to create and maintain their social networks. It is argued, within this thesis, that an important role of new technologies, such as the internet, is to enable a sense of community 'togetherness' to be maintained regardless of time and location. The convergence of internet technologies and social networks has also fuelled the popularity of online social networking sites such as Facebook (www.facebook.com) and Ning (www.ning.com). The sites provide opportunities for individuals to participate in a range of social groupings. Grounded in 'people to people interactions, the ‘online communities’ have the potential to provide support, friendship, information and a sense of belonging to each of the members. They may also be sources of social capital. It is argued, within this thesis, that the presence of social capital is intrinsically linked to positive outcomes across a range of areas, including improved health and greater wellbeing. However, while the value of maintaining a sense of social connectedness has been well documented, there has been little empirical research examining the determinants of success of online communities. This thesis seeks to address that omission by empirically testing a conceptual model that suggests both technical and social factors impact on the success of online communities. Data was collected from 202 members of the general population via an online survey. A Partial Least Squares (PLS) approach was used to examine the conceptual model. The results strongly supported the applicability of the model. The findings of the study suggest that a member’s sense of belonging within an online group is critical to the success of an online community. The research findings also indicate that individuals who have a sense of belonging within the online community are more likely to be satisfied with the community. Individuals who have a sense of belonging within the online community are also more likely to have a sense of loyalty towards the online community. As such, it is important for those managing online communities to take steps to encourage members to feel that they are a part of the community. There were also notable similarities and differences between the outcomes of this thesis and a study conducted by Lin (2008). Most notably, Lin (2008) held the view that system characteristics determined member satisfaction. The findings of this study, however, highlighted the dominant contribution of sense of belonging towards member satisfaction. Lin (2008) also assumed that member satisfaction influenced sense of belonging. The findings of this study found the reverse to be true. The hypothesised path between sense of belonging and member satisfaction was found to be positive and significant.
- Publication type
- Thesis (DBA)
- Research centre
- Swinburne University of Technology. Faculty of Business and Enterprise
- Publication year
- Australasian Digital Theses collection
- Copyright © 2011 Leanne Gayle Trembath.