A fundamental issue confronting virtual community (VC) managers is how to retain the existing members and promote their continuance in the VC. Being a virtual interaction space in which members are not formally bound to stay, the extent to which members have a sense of social identity, or perceiving themselves as a part of the VC, may be a key to determine their continuance intention in the VC. However, it is important to recognize that social identity is neither a unidimensional concept nor are VCs universal in nature. In this study, we examine two variants of VCs, one focusing on knowledge sharing and another on support/advocacy, and show that different dimensions of social identity matters for the two VCs. In particular, members' sense of cognitive social identity promotes their continuance intention in knowledge-based VCs, whereas it is the emotional social identity that works in support/advocacy VCs. Furthermore, the cultivation of the two dimensions of social identity requires the facilitation of different VC artifacts. Overall, our findings offer a more nuanced understanding of the role of social identity in promoting members' continuance in VCs, and underscore that a naive universal approach of cultivating social identity without considering VC type is not enough; rather, a VC-dependent strategy with differential emphasis on developing different VC artifacts could be more fruitful.
- information technology (IT) artifacts
- knowledge sharing
- social identity
- virtual community (VC)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Strategy and Management
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering