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Cultivating Trust and Harvesting Value in Virtual Communities


Author Info

  • Constance Elise Porter

    (Department of Marketing, Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556)

  • Naveen Donthu

    (Department of Marketing, Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia 30303)

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    Although previous scholars have examined the value of virtual communities to customers, in this study we investigate the role of a firm's efforts in cultivating trust and harvesting value for themselves via the virtual communities that they sponsor. We hypothesize that the perceptions of a firm's efforts to provide quality content, to foster member embeddedness, and to encourage interaction foster favorable customer beliefs about and trust in a virtual community sponsor. Further, we hypothesize that trust motivates customers to behave relationally toward the sponsoring firm by sharing information with, coproducing new products with, and granting loyalty to, the sponsoring firm. Data from 663 customers are analyzed using structural equation modeling techniques. We find that efforts to provide quality content and foster member embeddedness have positive effects on customer beliefs about the sponsor. In fact, fostering member embeddedness has a stronger explanatory effect on customer beliefs than does providing quality content. However, despite the fact that previous studies show that customers value interaction in virtual communities, our findings suggest that firms must do more than encourage interaction among their community members if they hope to create value from their virtual communities.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 54 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 113-128

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:54:y:2008:i:1:p:113-128

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    Related research

    Keywords: virtual communities; online communities; trust; embeddedness; relationship marketing;


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    Cited by:
    1. Zhang, Yixiang & Wang, Zhaohua & Zhou, Guanghui, 2013. "Determinants and implications of employee electricity saving habit: An empirical study in China," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 1529-1535.
    2. Gyrd-Jones, Richard I. & Kornum, Niels, 2013. "Managing the co-created brand: Value and cultural complementarity in online and offline multi‐stakeholder ecosystems," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(9), pages 1484-1493.
    3. Monic Sun & Feng Zhu, 2011. "Ad Revenue and Content Commercialization: Evidence from Blogs," Working Papers 11-32, NET Institute.
    4. Korschun, Daniel & Du, Shuili, 2013. "How virtual corporate social responsibility dialogs generate value: A framework and propositions," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(9), pages 1494-1504.
    5. Reuber, A. Rebecca & Fischer, Eileen, 2011. "International entrepreneurship in internet-enabled markets," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 660-679.
    6. Brodie, Roderick J. & Ilic, Ana & Juric, Biljana & Hollebeek, Linda, 2013. "Consumer engagement in a virtual brand community: An exploratory analysis," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 105-114.
    7. Kurt Matzler & Daniel Stieger & Johann Füller, 2011. "Consumer Confusion in Internet-Based Mass Customization: Testing a Network of Antecedents and Consequences," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 231-247, June.


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