A model for commitment and online community citizenship behaviour intention on Facebook
Online community citizenship behaviours refer to the voluntary behaviours of online community members which are helpful to the online community, the administrators and members but are not required for the online community to exist. Grounded in the social exchange theory, it is presumed that when members of an online community receive benefits, such as the development of social and emotional bonds with the community, they may want to reciprocate by performing citizenship behaviours that would be advantageous to the community and its members. Examples of online community citizenship behaviours include feedback provided to the administrator of the online community to improve the overall service delivery and assistance to fellow members. While a vast number of studies has been conducted on citizenship behaviours in the commercial environment, little, however, is known about the factors driving online community citizenship behaviours as directed towards administrators and members of residential online activity communities on Facebook. A residential online activity community consists of members who are residents of a city and who share a common interest in a specific topic. Knowledge of these matters is important, as, from a practical perspective, administrators are faced with various difficulties when managing online communities, such as building a strong membership base and facilitating active participation. Online community citizenship behaviours, involving members engaging in voluntary helpful acts towards administrators and fellow members to improve the online community value offering may then be of great assistance in retaining members and to stimulate active participation in the online residential activity community. As such this study was interested in uncovering the factors that may contribute to online community citizenship behaviours directed towards fellow members and administrators of residential online activity communities on Facebook. In identifying the proposed model, it was noted that commitment, as a key element of relationship marketing, is well recognised as a facilitator of citizenship behaviour. This study was then specifically interested in examining the impact of affective and normative commitment on online community citizenship behaviour towards administrators and fellow members of residential online activity communities on Facebook (Continuous commitment, as the third dimension of commitment, was not included the model, as research has established a negative relationship between continuous commitment and citizenship behaviour). Emotional support among online community members, social switching costs and position involvement was investigated as potential antecedents of affective commitment. Emotional support has previously been established to positively and significantly impact affective commitment in an online community environment, while the latter two factors have been tested in other research contexts, but their roles have not yet been confirmed in the online community environment. Subjective norm and critical mass was examined as antecedents of normative commitment. Subjective norm has been established to positively and significantly impact the normative commitment of social network site users, while limited studies have tested the impact of perceive critical mass on the normative commitment of online community members. Following the identification of the proposed model, the aim of this study was accordingly recorded as to examine the impact of selected factors on normative- and affective commitment towards residential online activity communities and to assess the extent to which members’ commitment may ultimately contribute to online community citizenship behaviours directed towards administrators and fellow members of the online communities. This study followed a descriptive and quantitative research design. The target population was defined as males and females, older than the age of 18 who is currently an active member of a residential online activity community on Facebook in South Africa. Non-probability sampling, consisting of quota and convenience sampling, was employed to determine the number of members of each residential online activity community and to reach the determined quotas. Computer-assisted, online questionnaires were used, where the link to the questionnaire was posted on the various residential online activity Facebook groups in the nine provinces of South Africa. Respondent participation was completely voluntary and anonymous. Screening questions ensured that the respondents were older than 18 years and are current and active members of the residential online activity community on Facebook. Valid and reliable measures were adapted for the questionnaire, and the items were measured on a five-point continuous and unlabelled Likert-type scale. A total of 545 usable questionnaires were obtained and included in the analysis. The empirical analysis included an exploratory factor analysis and it was concluded that when applied to the context of this study, online community citizenship behaviour consists of five factors, namely 1) feedback intention relating to general improvement; 2) feedback intention relating to operational problems; 3) policing intention; 4) helping intention relating to the use of service and 5) helping intention relating to personal problems experienced. The measurement model analysis offered confirmation of the validity and reliability of the research findings. The structural equation model results evidenced acceptable model fit. Affective and normative commitment have a positive and significant effect on all forms of online community citizenship behaviours directed towards administrators and members. Emotional support, social switching costs and position involvement have a positive and significant effect on affective commitment. Subjective norm and perceive critical mass have a positive and significant effect on normative commitment. All research hypotheses formulated were subsequently accepted. Consequently, the research findings make valuable contributions to theory and practice. From a theoretical perspective, the research findings provide a better understanding of the effect of different forms of commitment (affective and normative) on online community citizenship behaviours directed towards administrators and members of residential online activity communities on Facebook. Also, the study contributes to relationship marketing theory by identifying a novel group of factors that contribute to the different forms of commitment of residential online activity community members on Facebook. This study also extends existing literature by establishing that feedback towards administrators of an online community can relate to making suggestions for general improvement and solving operational problems, while helping may involve assisting fellow members in using the service and to solve their personal problems experienced. Furthermore, this study contributes to the field of online communities and citizenship behaviour as it shed more light on the types of citizenship behaviours directed towards administrators and members of online communities. Lastly, the study provides more insight into the extent to which relationship marketing theory contribute towards online community citizenship behaviour as explained by the social exchange theory. From a managerial perspective, the research findings offer valuable, strategic direction to administrators of online communities who are struggling to improve the participation levels. Administrators should focus on affective and normative commitment and their antecedents investigated in this study and must ensure that the interaction taking place on the online community is well managed and will increase the level of commitment of the members, as it may lead to members performing online community citizenship behaviours directed towards administrators and towards fellow members. From a social perspective, the research findings may equip city marketers to develop and utilise residential online activity communities to build relationships with residents, share knowledge with them, and increase social interactions amongst residents, which might improve the social welfare of the city’s residents. Ultimately, the research findings serve as a foundation for understanding the interrelationship among commitment and online community citizenship behaviour intention on Facebook. It is suggested that future research extend these findings by re-testing the model in other types of online communities to verify the extent to which the model can be applied to the broader online community environment. It is further recommended that future research investigate other forms of online community citizenship behaviours relevant to online community environments to obtain a more comprehensive account of the constructs within an online community environment. Future research could also make use of longitudinal data to investigate the interrelationships of the constructs under different circumstances and within different time periods.