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Peeking into the virtual community…

April 29, 2009

Lin (2008) defines a virtual community as “a a cyberspace having various Internet based chat technologies, including discussion forums (discussion or bulletin board), etc.” (p. 522) which depends upon social interaction among its members to subsist. Lin’s (2008) study endeavored to test DeLone & McLean’s IS success model within the context of system characteristics and social factors found within virtual communities. Lin (2008) examined dimensions of to the D&M model, specifically considering what characteristics contributed to the success or failure of a particular virtual community, as reported by the 198 respondents in the study. Dimensions such as sense of belonging, loyalty, trust and participation were utilized to determine the value of a virtual community setting to the participants and member satisfaction, system quality and organizational effectiveness were also explored. Data were collected utilizing a paper-based survey instrument from a class of 236 students registered in a business course at a large university and several hypotheses were constructed. A five-point Likert scale was utilized and the appropriate demographic information was gathered.

Lin’s (2008) study showed a positive relationship among member satisfaction, loyalty, and sense of belonging consistent with studies the researcher built upon for the instant findings and indicative of communities with satisfied members having a higher level of loyalty to the community. Lin (2008) found trust to have the strongest influence upon sense of belonging in a virtual community setting while social usefulness did not significantly influence sense of belonging within the community being studied.

Lin’s (2008) study provided some important insights on virtual communities and their effects upon their members from a system and social viewpoint. While the limitations of the study were evident in the sample size and type of population being studied, the implications of the results of the study remain important for those who endeavor to utilize communities of practice or other types of virtual communities for business or education purposes. The population from which the sample was drawn could be construed as representative of the “millennials” or a younger, more technology savvy group of students which has obvious implications for businesses who will compete for such talent in the marketplace. Building upon Lin’s (2008) research would prove to be useful for industry such that the wants and needs of a target talent pool might be recognized and employed for recruiting, development and retention purposes.

Hsiu-Fen Lin (2008). Determinants of successful virtual communities: Contributions from system characteristics and social factors. Information & Management, 45(8), 522. Retrieved February 1, 2009, from ProQuest Science Journals database. (Document ID: 1605866311).

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