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Hong Kong Baptist University

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Open Access Theses and Dissertations Electronic Theses and Dissertations

2014

Investigating trust and commitment on brand


pages in social networking sites :the antecedents
and outcomes
Si Shi
Hong Kong Baptist University

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Investigating Trust and Commitment on Brand Pages in

Social Networking Sites: The Antecedents and Outcomes

SHI Si

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements

for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Principal Supervisor: Dr. CHOW Wing Sing

Hong Kong Baptist University

August 2014
DECLARATION

I hereby declare that this thesis represents my own work which has been done

after registration for the degree of PhD at Hong Kong Baptist University, and has

not been previously included in a thesis, dissertation submitted to this or other

institution for a degree, diploma or other qualification.

Signature: _____________________

Date: August 2014

i
ABSTRACT

As the growing popularity of social networking sites (SNS) in recent years, many
companies have recognized the potential of SNS as a competitive tool to connect
with their customers and help them to achieve better business performance. The
brand page is a popular product of SNS that allows companies to create their own
profiles in SNS and provides companies with a platform to engage with their
customers. The brand page can create added values for both companies and
customers because it can help companies to increase brand awareness and also
help customers to gain more brand knowledge. Past studies consider that
increasing customers commitment and trust on the brand page are central to
improving companies performance on the brand page. The aim of this thesis is to
gain a better understanding of customers commitment and trust on the brand page
based on the Commitment-Trust Theory, and use customer values based on the
Customer Value Theory to explain the antecedents of customers commitment,
trust, and relationship outcomes on the brand page. In particular, the thesis
focuses on three customer values, namely, functional value, social value, and
emotional value. This thesis focuses on four customer relationship outcomes:
relationship durability, electronic word of mouth, continued interaction, and
functional conflict.

To examine the above objectives, this thesis proposes a theoretical model which
includes three model components: relationship antecedents (i.e., customer values),
relationship mediators (i.e., brand page commitment and trust), and relationship
outcomes (i.e., relationship durability, electronic word of mouth, continued
interaction, and functional conflict). We propose positive relationships between
relationship antecedents and relationship mediators, and between relationship
mediators and relationship outcomes. We conceptualized functional value, social
value, emotional value, brand page commitment, and brand page trust as
second-order constructs. We identify their respective first-order constructs
through an extensive literature review.

We verify our research model by using a data set collected in a Chinese social
networking site Sina Microblog. A total of 375 questionnaires are collected from
users in Sina Microblog who have followed at least one brand page.

We adopt established measurement items in previous studies to measure the


constructs in this thesis. All measurement items undergo vigorous tests of factor
analysis and construct validity. We also assessed the validity of second-order
constructs by using theoretical and statistical analysis.

We test our proposed model by using statistical technique of structural equation


modelling (SEM). Partial least square (PLS) software package is used for data
analysis. Our analysis confirms that social and emotional values significantly
influence both brand page commitment and trust. Functional value is significantly
ii
related to brand page trust but not brand page commitment. In term of relationship
outcomes, our findings show that both brand page commitment and trust
significantly affect customers relationship durability, electronic word of mouth
intention, continued interaction, and functional conflict. Our results also confirm
the key mediating roles of brand page commitment and trust on the relationships
between each of customer values and each of relationship outcomes.

In conclusion, this thesis makes two main contributions. First, it provides


empirical evidence regarding the process of customer relationship development on
the brand page. Our results reveal that customer values are salient drivers of
customers commitment, trust, and relationship outcomes on the brand page.
Second, it contributes to the Commitment-Trust Theory and the Customer Value
Theory by exploring the content of each customer values, commitment, and trust
in the context of SNS brand pages.

iii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to my supervisor, Dr. Vincent W.S.

Chow, for his tremendous support and invaluable guidance during the course of

my study. Dr. Chow offered innumerable constructive and useful suggestions for

the improvement of my research project. His help and encouragement during my

study are valuable to me.

I would like to thank Dr. Ludwig M.K. Chang and Dr. Christy M.K. Cheung, for

their valuable guidance and encouragement during the course of my study.

I would also like to thank Miss Clara Qin, Mr. Zach Lee, and Mr. Archie Guerra

with whom I have spent very enjoyable three years at Hong Kong Baptist

University. I would also like to thank my roommates, Miss Xiaoyu Zhou, Miss

Yunzhu Liu, and Miss Yao Luo, for their encouragement and companionship

during my stay in Hong Kong.

Finally, I would like to thank my parents (Mr. Zhongzhi Shi and Mrs. Xiulan He)

and my boyfriend (Mr. Junchao Li) who have given me unlimited love, consistent

support, and encouragement during the course of my study.

iv
TABLE OF CONTENTS

DECLARATION ........................................................................................................... i
ABSTRACT .................................................................................................................. ii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ....................................................................................... iv
TABLE OF CONTENTS ............................................................................................. v
LIST OF TABLES....................................................................................................... ix
LIST OF FIGURES ..................................................................................................... x
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................ 1
1.1. Research Background ............................................................................ 1
1.1.1. Business Implications in Social Networking Sites ........................ 1
1.1.2. The Brand Page .............................................................................. 2
1.1.3. Commitment and Trust Issues on the Brand Page ......................... 3
1.2. Purpose, Scope, and Research Justifications ......................................... 6
1.3. Overview of the Research Model .......................................................... 9
1.4. Organization of this Thesis .................................................................. 10
CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW .................................................................. 12
2.1. Social Networking Site ........................................................................ 13
2.2. The Brand Page .................................................................................... 16
2.3. The Commitment-Trust Theory ........................................................... 17
2.3.1. Commitment ................................................................................ 21
2.3.2. Trust ............................................................................................. 25
2.4. Relationship Antecedents .................................................................... 28
2.4.1. Relationship Antecedents in CTT ................................................ 28
2.4.2. The Customer Value Theory........................................................ 29
2.4.3. Functional Value .......................................................................... 37
2.4.4. Social Value ................................................................................. 40
2.4.5. Emotional Value .......................................................................... 42
2.5. Relationship Outcomes ........................................................................ 44
2.5.1. General Observations ................................................................... 44
2.5.2. Relationship Outcomes on the Brand Page.................................. 45
2.5.3. Relationship Durability ................................................................ 48

v
2.5.4. Electronic word of mouth ............................................................ 48
2.5.5. Continued Interaction .................................................................. 49
2.5.6. Functional Conflict ...................................................................... 50
CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY ............................................................................. 51
3.1. Research Model Development ............................................................. 51
3.2. Research Model and Hypotheses ......................................................... 54
3.2.1. Effects of Customer Values on Brand Page Commitment .......... 56
3.2.2. Effects of Customer Values on Brand Page Trust ....................... 59
3.2.3. Effect of Brand Page Trust on Brand Page Commitment ............ 62
3.2.4. Effects of Brand Page Commitment on Relationship
Outcomes .................................................................................... 63
3.2.5. Effects of Brand Page Trust on Relationship Outcomes ............. 67
3.2.6. Control Variables ......................................................................... 71
3.2.7. Summary of Hypotheses .............................................................. 72
3.3. Instrument Development...................................................................... 74
3.3.1. Measurement Items of the Constructs in the Research Model .... 74
3.3.2. Questionnaire Design ................................................................... 81
3.4. Research Sampling and Data Collection Procedure ............................ 83
3.4.1. Potential Respondents and Questionnaire Translation ................ 83
3.4.2. Data Collection Procedure ........................................................... 84
3.5. Statistical Analysis Methods ................................................................ 85
3.5.1. Measurement Model Assessment ................................................ 85
3.5.2. Validation of Second-order Constructs........................................ 88
3.5.3. Structural Model Assessment ...................................................... 92
CHAPTER 4 SAMPLING PROFILES ................................................................... 97
4.1. Demographic Information of Respondents .......................................... 97
4.2. Mean Scores and Standard Deviations of Constructs .......................... 99
CHAPTER 5 RESULTS .......................................................................................... 101
5.1 Measurement Model Assessment ...................................................... 101
5.1.1 Content Validity......................................................................... 101
5.1.2 Convergent Validity ................................................................... 102
5.1.3. Discriminant Validity ................................................................ 104
5.1.4. Reliability................................................................................... 106
5.1.5. Common Method Bias ............................................................... 107
vi
5.2. Validation of Second-order Constructs.............................................. 107
5.2.1. Theoretical Analysis .................................................................. 108
5.2.2. Statistical Analysis ..................................................................... 109
5.3. Structural Model Assessment ............................................................ 117
5.3.1. Direct Relationships ................................................................... 117
5.3.2. Indirect Relationships ................................................................ 125
CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS ......................................... 132
6.1. Overall Result Findings ..................................................................... 132
6.2. Effects of Customer Values on Brand Page Commitment ................ 133
6.2.1. Functional Value ........................................................................ 134
6.2.2. Social Value ............................................................................... 135
6.2.3. Emotional Value ........................................................................ 136
6.3. Effects of Customer Values on Brand Page Trust ............................. 137
6.3.1. Functional Value ........................................................................ 138
6.3.2. Social Value ............................................................................... 139
6.3.3. Emotional Value ........................................................................ 140
6.4. Effect of Brand Page Trust on Brand Page Commitment .................. 141
6.5. Effects of Brand Page Commitment on Relationship Outcomes ....... 142
6.6. Effects of Brand Page Trust on Relationship Outcomes ................... 144
6.7. Mediating Role of Brand Page Commitment .................................... 145
6.8. Mediating Role of Brand Page Trust ................................................. 146
6.9. Multiple Mediating Roles of Brand Page Commitment and Trust .... 147
CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION ................................................................................. 150
7.1. Overview of Research Findings ......................................................... 150
7.2. Contributions of this Research ........................................................... 151
7.2.1. Contributions to the Theory Development ................................ 151
7.2.2. Contributions to the Practices .................................................... 154
7.3. Limitations and Future Research Directions ..................................... 157
7.3.1. Limited Focus on Relationship Antecedents ............................. 157
7.3.2. Conceptual View of Customer Relationship Quality ................ 158
7.3.3. Conceptualization of Second-order Constructs ......................... 158
7.3.4. Negative Relationships .............................................................. 158
7.3.5. Cultural Differences ................................................................... 159
7.3.6. Industry Differences .................................................................. 159
vii
7.3.7. Data Collection Method ............................................................. 160
7.3.8. Control Variables ....................................................................... 160
REFERENCES......................................................................................................... 162
APPENDIX A ........................................................................................................... 181
APPENDIX B ........................................................................................................... 187
CURRICULUM VITAE .......................................................................................... 193

viii
LIST OF TABLES

Table 2.1 Definitions of Social Networking Site ..................................................... 14


Table 2.2 CTT Applications in Various Contexts .................................................... 20
Table 2.3 Commitment in SNS and Online Community contexts ........................... 23
Table 2.4 Trust in SNS and Online Community Contexts ....................................... 26
Table 2.5 CVT Applications in Various Contexts .................................................... 32
Table 2.6 Customer Values in SNS and Online Community Context ..................... 35
Table 2.7 Relationship Outcomes in SNS and Online Community Contexts .......... 47
Table 3.1 Summary of Hypotheses .......................................................................... 73
Table 3.2 Constructs and Measurement Items ......................................................... 75
Table 4.1 Demographic Information of Respondents .............................................. 98
Table 4.2 Mean Scores and Standard Deviations of Constructs .............................. 99
Table 5.1 Results of Convergent Validity Analysis ................................................ 103
Table 5.2 Results of Discriminant Validity Analysis ............................................. 105
Table 5.3 Results of Reliability Test ...................................................................... 106
Table 5.4 Results of Unidimensional Models for Model Constructs ..................... 111
Table 5.5 Results of Multidimensional Models for Model Constructs .................. 114
Table 5.6 Correlations among First-order Constructs ............................................ 116
Table 5.7 Results of Relationship Strength Test .................................................... 116
Table 5.8 Results of Structural Model Testing ...................................................... 119
Table 5.9 Summary of Hypotheses Testing Results .............................................. 119
Table 5.10 Results of Mediation Analysis ............................................................. 126

ix
LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 2.1 Key Mediating Variable Model of CTT ................................................. 19


Figure 2.2 Customer Value Framework ................................................................... 37
Figure 3.1 Proposed Research Model ...................................................................... 55
Figure 5.1 Unidimensional Models of Model Constructs ...................................... 110
Figure 5.2 Multidimensional Models of Model Constructs ................................... 113
Figure 5.3 Second-order Formative Models .......................................................... 115
Figure 5.4 Modeling Results .................................................................................. 118

x
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION

This chapter presents the research background, research rationale and objective,

justifications, and the organization of this thesis. It includes the following

sections:

a) Research Background;

b) Purpose, Scope, and Research Justifications;

b) Overview of the Research Model; and

c) Organization of this Thesis.

1.1. Research Background

1.1.1. Business Implications in Social Networking Sites

During the last decade, social networking sites (SNS), such as Facebook, Twitter,

and Microblog, have become very popular around the world (Pfeil, Arjan, &

Zaphiris, 2009). SNS represent an emerging form of Information and

Communications Technology (ICT) that connects online users worldwide. Early

in their development, SNS have mainly been used by individuals to socialize,

share information, and communicate (Dwyer, Hiltz, & Widmeyer, 2008). With

their increasing popularity worldwide, SNS have now attracted tremendous

attention for their business implications. Many companies have created their own

profiles on SNS platforms and used them as one of their major channels through
1
which to connect with their customers (Acker, Grne, Akkad, Ptscher, & Yazbek,

2011). Baird & Parasniss (2011) survey study indicated that nowadays SNS are

one of the most popular and efficient tools employed by companies to engage

with customers. With respect to this increasingly popular phenomena of business

implications in SNS, Faase et al. (2011) pointed out that companies should not

only focus on adopting new IT technologies, but rather they should focus on

company-specific strategy for creating customer involvement and building

stronger customer relationships (p. 9) in SNS applications.

1.1.2. The Brand Page

A brand page (also called fan page) is a companys profile created in SNS. It is

considered as an increasingly popular example of companies use of SNS (Cvijikj

& Michahelles, 2013b). Users in SNS can check the information on a brand page

and decide whether or not to follow the brand page. Once a user has followed a

brand page, the updates of that brand page will be forwarded and posted onto that

users homepage. On brand pages, users can engage in conversations with parties

such as the company and the community members. The company-to-customer

and customer-to-customer interactions are facilitated on the brand page through

functions which allow users to leave comments, forward messages, click likes,

engage in discussions, and so on (Zhang, Lee, & Feng, 2013). In addition to the

interest from companies, SNS users are also paying increasingly attention to brand

pages. For example, a recent check of Starbucks brand page on Facebook shows

that it received 36 million of likes from its fans. Moreover, by 2012, more than

half of the users in the Sina Microblog were following at least one of their

brand page (SINA, 2012)


2
Studies indicate that brand pages enable companies to engage with their

customers in a more efficient and relevant manner (Gummerus, Liljander, Weman,

& Pihlstrm, 2012), as well as to build and maintain better relationships with

current and potential customers (Rishika, Kumar, Janakiraman, & Bezawada,

2013). From customers standpoint, evidence suggests that followers of brand

pages tend to be more open to receiving companies promotional information, and

may also develop a deeper emotional attachment to the brand than those

non-followers (Dholakia & Durham, 2010).

1.1.3. Commitment and Trust Issues on the Brand Page

Extant literature point out that customer commitment and trust are important

determinants of customer relationship quality in a business model (e.g.,Aurier &

NGoala, 2010; Garbarino & Johnson, 1999; Wong & Sohal, 2002). In addition to

commitment and trust, many other factors have also been adopted to measure

customer relationship quality. For example, in e-commerce, many studies consider

customer loyalty as the key measurement of customer relationship quality,

because loyalty represents customers deep attachment and relationship durability

(Rauyruen & Miller, 2007; Tsai & Huang, 2009; Yen, 2010). In online

community context, customer usage intensity and engagement have been treated

as important measures of customer relationship quality (Cvijikj & Michahelles,

2013a; Jahn & Kunz, 2012; Ulusu, 2010; Woisetschlger, Hartleb, & Blut, 2008).

Usage intensity measures the frequency of participating in the community, while

customer engagement refers to users interactive and integrative participation in

the community. Another important factor of customer relationship quality is

satisfaction, which reflects customers attitude and evaluative judgments towards


3
products or services (Kim, Ferrin, & Rao, 2009). Studies found that satisfaction is

an important relationship outcome of customers experiences, value perceptions,

and involvement behaviors in the online community context (Chow & Shi, 2014;

Royo-Vela & Casamassima, 2011; Zhao & Lu, 2012). Among these factors, we

consider commitment and trust as extremely crucial in improving companies

business performance on the brand page for the following three main reasons.

First, the cost of stop following a brand page in SNS is relatively low (Hutter,

Hautz, Dennhardt, & Fller, 2013). In e-commerce and traditional transaction

environments, switching to other vendors is usually associated with switching

costs such as monetary and time loss for customers (Burnham, Frels, & Mahajan,

2003). However in the SNS context, customers could follow as many brand pages

as they want, and stop following a brand page causes a little cost or none for them

(Simon, Brexendorf, & Fassnacht, 2013). Under such a circumstance, how to

increase customers attachment to a brand page and how to make them commit to

a particular brand page become challenging issues for companies. Many past

studies have also reported that users in SNS generally show a low commitment to

a brand page and that their interests on a brand page are usually short-lasting (Lin

& Lu, 2011a; Wang, 2013). Therefore, it is understandable that customers

commitment to the brand page is critical because it is a key determinant to the

success of a brand page (Zhang, Lee, et al., 2013).

Second, the information resources on SNS brand pages are of great complexity

(Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2011b). Zhang (2013) indicates that the brand page

environment is filled with asymmetric information exchange and uncertainty. In

other words, customers could collect more information about products from both
4
companies and other fans, and it takes efforts for customers to evaluate the quality

of such large amount of information (de Vries, Gensler, & Leeflang, 2012). As

such, trust is considered as an extremely important issue on the brand page

because it could reduce uncertainties during information exchange and promote

long-lasting relationships between companies and brand page followers

(Westerlund, Rajala, Nyknen, & Jrvensivu, 2009).

Third, extant literature in online brand communities and SNS also placed a heavy

emphasis on nurturing a high level of customer commitment and trust (e.g.,Hsu,

Liu, & Lee, 2010; Jang, Olfman, Ko, Koh, & Kim, 2008; Kim, Choi, Qualls, &

Han, 2008). For example, Baird and Parasnis (2011) believe that the skill sets,

such as facilitating collaborative experiences and dialogue, for maintaining

consumer commitment and trust have become a new strategic asset for companies

use of SNS. The study of Hur et al. (2011) considers commitment and trust in an

online brand community as the central tenets in increasing customers loyalty

behaviors. Gummerus et al. (2012) indicate that commitment and trust in

Facebook brand pages are important outcomes of customer engagement, and that

they can be further strengthened to promote relational transactions for companies.

The above evidences suggest that companies business performance and

relationships with customers could be enhanced through the improvement of

customers commitment and trust on the brand page. Therefore, this thesis firstly

intends to examine customers commitment and trust on brand pages in SNS, and

then explain their influencing factors and outcomes. We further justify our

research rationale and objective below.

5
1.2. Purpose, Scope, and Research Justifications

Although academics have well recognized that commitment and trust are key

measures of customer relationship quality in SNS brand pages, extant literature

are mostly descriptive in nature (e.g.,Baird & Parasnis, 2011; Parent, Plangger, &

Bal, 2011), and there lacks clear understanding of the roles of customer

commitment and trust in the process of customer relationship development on the

brand page (i.e., from initial relationship development to the improvement of

business performance). There is, therefore, a need for a theory-based research

framework to support a shared understanding of customer relationship

development on the brand page.

The Commitment-Trust Theory (CTT) provides a solid theoretical foundation for

researchers to examine the antecedents and outcomes of commitment and trust in

various contexts. CTT is a well-established theory which has been well applied to

study the process of relationship development in different contexts, such as IT

outsourcing (Goo & Huang, 2008), e-commerce (Mukherjee & Nath, 2007), and

supply chain management (Wu, Weng, & Huang, 2012). Past studies confirmed

that CTT sheds lights on each stage of relationship development and supports

research to explore their relationship antecedents and outcomes components in

various contexts. Compared with other theoretical models with centered on other

factors of relationship quality such as customer loyalty (Bell, Auh, & Smalley,

2005), satisfaction (Cater & Cater, 2009), and continuance intention (Al-Debei,

Al-Lozi, & Papazafeiropoulou, 2013), the CTT provides a more comprehensive

theoretical framework with regard to the emerging commitment and trust issues

6
on the brand page, and enables us to understand specific antecedents and

outcomes of both commitment and trust (Zhang, Ding, & Zheng, 2013). Therefore,

this thesis intends to adopt CTT as our theoretical base to gain an understanding

of the process of customer relationship development in SNS brand pages. Based

on CTT, we propose our research model as including three model components:

relationship mediators, relationship antecedents, and relationship outcomes. We

further explain and justify each of these model components below.

First, for relationship mediators, we follow the doctrine of CTT by considering

customer commitment and trust as playing key mediating roles between

relationship antecedents and outcomes on the brand page. CTT is a

well-established theory which has been well applied to study relationship

marketing in different contexts, such as IT outsourcing (Goo & Huang, 2008),

e-commerce (Mukherjee & Nath, 2007), and supply chain management (Wu, et al.,

2012). The applications of CTT confirm its predictive power in understanding

relationship development process in various contexts. Therefore, this thesis adopts

CTT to investigate the process of customer relationship development in the SNS

brand page context. We strongly believe that our study contributes to the theory

development and enriches theoretical understandings of commitment and trust in

the brand page context. Moreover, examining such a process based on CTT could

further gain a better understanding of how brand page features affect customer

attitudes in terms of commitment and trust, and help companies to better target

online marketing results (Hsu, et al., 2010).

Second, relationship antecedents in this study are to explain influencing factors of

customers commitment and trust on the brand page. The original CTT proposes
7
that shared value is the key antecedent to both components of commitment and

trust in traditional business partnerships (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). The shared

value measures the common value perceptions between trading partners. Shared

value is important in the original CTT model because it helps business partners to

achieve mutual benefits. In the brand page context, this situation has altered a

fashion in such a way that customers commitment and trust are treated as

unilateral. Therefore, applying CTT in our study context requires a modification

to accommodate the position that customers commitment and trust are

one-directional. The key antecedent has shifted from both parties value

perceptions to customers value perceptions. In the brand page context, past

studies suggest that understanding what customers really value is the first and

most vital step in building successful customer relationship (e.g.,Baird & Parasnis,

2011). Faase et al. (2011) also pointed out that companies should center on

customer and deliver tangible values to them when using SNS for customer

relationship management. Therefore, consistent with these observations, this study

builds on previous literature by adopting the Customer Value Theory (CVT) to

explain the causes of customer commitment, trust, and relationship outcomes in

the brand page context. Adopting CVT in our study context could provide new

insights in predicting customers relationship quality and behavioral intentions

based on their value perceptions on the brand page.

Third, for relationship outcomes, we measure the performance of SNS brand

pages based on highly desirable business relationship outcomes in SNS and brand

community literature, such as relationship durability, electronic word of mouth

intention, continued interaction, and functional conflict. Detailed review on

8
relationship outcomes will be presented in Chapter 2. According to Morgan and

Hunt (1994), although commitment and trust are two highly desirable outcomes in

the process of relationship development, identification of additional quantitative

outcomes is desirable. Existing studies tend to focus on brand page activities

rather than empirically investigating how brand page activities influence

company-related outcomes (e.g.,Brodie, Ilic, Juric, & Hollebeek, 2013). Except

for the focus on brand page attributes, we believe that more attention needs to be

paid on how brand pages can effectively help companies improve business

performance (Li & Li, 2013). In order to help companies target the outcomes

associated with the use of brand pages more effectively, this thesis identifies key

customer relationship outcomes on the brand page based on a thorough literature

review that presented in Chapter 2.

1.3. Overview of the Research Model

This thesis develops a theoretical framework based on Commitment-Trust Theory

(CTT) that examines customer commitment and trust on the brand page, and then

adopts Customer Value Theory (CVT) to explain customer commitment, trust,

and subsequently the relationship outcomes on the brand page. In particular, we

examine how customers value perceptions can be used to explain customers

brand page commitment and trust, and how they further impact business

relationship outcomes on the brand page. We measure customer values based on

CVT, and they are composed of the perceptions of functional, social, and

emotional values of the brand page. We measure business relationship outcomes

by considering four highly desirable outcomes in SNS and brand community

9
literature: relationship durability, electronic word of mouth intention, continued

interaction, and functional conflict.

The measurement items of constructs in this study are adopted from previous

established studies. This thesis firstly assesses the validity of measurement model

by using statistical methods of confirmatory factoring analysis. We then analyze

the proposed relationships in the research model using statistical method of

Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). The SEM allows our study to firstly

validate the measurement model, and then to assess the significance of

relationships in the structural model. The data of this study is collected from a

survey study conducted on a popular social networking site in China Sina

Microblog.

1.4. Organization of this Thesis

This thesis is organized into seven chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the research

background, rationale, objective, overview of the research model, and

organization of this thesis. Chapter 2 presents the literature review on relevant

theories and concepts in this thesis, including social networking site, the brand

page, Commitment-Trust Theory, Customer Value Theory, and relationship

outcomes. The proposed research model and hypotheses are explained in Chapter

3. Chapter 3 also describes the methodology that employed in this study to

examine the measurement and structural models. Chapter 4 presents the sample

profiles of respondents. The results findings of this study are shown in Chapter 5.

Chapter 6 presents the discussions of result findings and implications. Lastly,

10
Chapter 7 draws a conclusion on the overall findings, contributions, limitations,

and future research directions of this thesis.

11
CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW

This chapter aims at presenting a holistic review of the concepts and theories that

are related to the contents of this thesis. It includes the following sections:

a) Social Networking Sites;

b) The Brand Page;

c) Commitment-Trust Theory;

d) Relationship Antecedents; and

e) Relationship Outcomes;

To identify relevant literature for above concepts and theories, we followed a

two-step process proposed by Cheung and Thadani (2012). Step one refers to

literature identification. This thesis collected academic and peer reviewed journal

articles that relevant to the concepts involved in this study, such as brand page,

customer value, commitment, and trust. We used two following methods to

identify relevant literature. First, we conducted a systematic electronic search

using a number of index databases that are available in our university library.

These databases include ABI/INFORM Complete (ProQuest), IEEE Xplore,

Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), ACM Digital Library, Academic Search

Premier (EBSCO) and so on. We conducted the search by using keywords that

were related to the concepts in this study, such as social networking site, brand

page, brand community, customer value, commitment, trust, and so on.

Second, we reviewed four top MIS journals (Management Information Systems

12
Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Decision Support Systems, and

Information & Management) and three top Marketing Journals (Journal of

Marketing Research, Journal of Marketing, and Journal of Consumer Research)

that published during the past decade since online communities, social networking

sites, and brand pages are starting to become popular during this period of time.

The above methods of literature identification ensure that this thesis included all

major articles that are relevant to this study.

Step two relates to literature analysis. Following the guidance of systematic

review methodology proposed by Sussman and Siegal (2003), we used the

following three criteria to filter the literature that we collected in step one: (1)

literature should be a peer reviewed academic research; (2) the concept (e.g.,

customer values) identified in a literature should be the main focus of

investigation in that literature; and (3) papers dealing with brand community and

social networking should be in the online context. These criteria enable us to

eliminate the literature that was not pertinent to the focus of this study.

Based on the above two steps, we collected relevant literature for each topic in

this chapter, and we now review them in the following sections.

2.1. Social Networking Site

Social networking sites (SNS), such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and

Microblog have received great popularity worldwide in recent years. They

provide a new form of web services that supports effective communication and

information exchange with others (Lu & Hsiao, 2010). The concept of social
13
networking is built on person-to-person connections and includes exchanges or

interactions across a group of individuals (Ellison, 2007). Person-to-person

interactions may consist of a group of users, customers, or employees who forms

a social network based on their social relationships (Chen, 2013). These networks

confine how resources ow and circulate among them, and how these individuals

are connected to each other (Haythornthwaite, 2005). Table 2.1 portrays a list of

sample definitions of SNS from extant literature. Most definitions share the same

views that SNS: 1) base on connections among users; 2) allow users to establish

relationships with others; and 3) facilitate the exchange of user-generated

contents.

Table 2.1 Definitions of Social Networking Site

Literature Definitions
Ellison (2007, Web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a
p. 211) public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2)
articulate a list of other users with whom they share a
connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections
and those made by others within the system.
Lin & Lu Social networking sites, by definition, provides a new method
(2011b, p. of communicating, employing computers as a collaborative tool
1152) to accelerate group formation and escalate group scope and
influence.
Pfeil, Arjan, & Social networking sites allow users to upload their own
Zaphiris images, music and videos to make them available for public
(2009, p. 643). use, and encourage users to connect to other users on the site,
establishing and/or maintaining a group of friends.
Cheung, Chiu, Social networking websites are virtual communities which
& Lee (2011, allow people to connect and interact with each other on a
p. 1337) particular subject or to just hang out together online.
Constantinides Applications allowing users to build personal websites
& Fountain accessible to other users for exchange of personal content and
(2008, p. 233) communication.
Trusov, Social networking sites allow a user to build and maintain a
Bucklin, & network of friends for social or professional interaction. In the
Pauwels core of a social networking site are personalized user profiles.
(2009, p. 92)

14
The development of SNS can be generally divided into two stages. The first stage

of SNS focused on individual use. Users create their profiles in SNS mainly to

socialize, share information, and check what is happening with their families,

friends, and also strangers (Muscanell & Guadagno, 2012). Research topics on

individual SNS use include various topics such as users intention to use (Cheung,

et al., 2011), continuance intention (Lin, Fan, & Chau, 2014), friending behaviors

(Thelwall, 2008), self-disclosure behaviors (Chen & Marcus, 2012), switching

behaviors (Hsieh, Hsieh, & Feng, 2011), and privacy issues (Dwyer, Hiltz, &

Passerini, 2007). Studies reveal that SNS facilitate individual users social

activities by making it much easier for them to connect with people, find like

minds, exchange information, and keep up with new updates from people around

them (Subrahmanyam, Reich, Waechter, & Espinoza, 2008). Users profiles in

SNS are usually a combination of their images (or avatars), a list of their basic

information (e.g., gender, age, interest), and a list of their affiliated friends on the

SNS (Trusov, et al., 2009). The profiles of users on the SNS are accessible to

other users for exchange of personal content and communication (Constantinides

& Fountain, 2008).

In the second stage of SNS development, companies started to create their own

profiles in SNS in order to communicate with a larger group of audiences

(Laroche, Habibi, & Richard, 2012). For example, it is not uncommon nowadays

to see many companies create brand pages in SNS and show Find us on

Facebook and Follow us on Twitter on their official websites. Sashi (2012)

stated that SNS have turned the static online community into an two-way

interactive community which enables companies to improve their customer

15
relationships through online interactions. Woodcock et al. (2011) also suggest that

SNS would bring companies with numerous benefits which are centered around

increasing customer engagement, achieving more profits, and maintaining closer

customer relationships.

2.2. The Brand Page

The brand page (also known as fan page) is a popular example of the companys

profile in SNS. A brand page is usually designed for companies to directly post

brand-related information to subscribing users for brand promoting (Cvijikj &

Michahelles, 2011a). The brand page provides a new form of web services for

communicating and exchanging information among SNS users with similar

interests (Lu & Hsiao, 2010). The fashion of conversations on the brand page can

be categorized into one of the following 3 ways: company to customer, customer

to company, and customer to customer (de Vries, et al., 2012). For example, on a

brand page in Sina Microblog, customers can share experiences and opinions that

related to the products of a company with other customers. Customers can also

direct interact with companies by posting comments, or sending private messages

(Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2013b). The brand page is thus a unique medium for

companies to engage into conversations with a larger group of their audiences.

Harnessing the power of connected users, the brand page provides a great

opportunity for companies to improve their business performances (Gu & Wang,

2012). For example, Jansen et al. (2009) stated that collaboration and

communication are key features of brand pages in SNS that substantially

influence the word of mouth branding, which subsequently also influences brand
16
image and awareness. Marcelo and Paolo (2011) examined the Zaras brand page

and concluded that customers satisfaction with a brand page significantly

influences their intention to spread a positive word of mouth about the brand.

Yang (2012) confirms that message source and content on brand pages can

influence customers brand attitudes and purchasing attitudes. However, studies

also indicate that nowadays many companies still use the brand page as an

advertising tool to push forward their product information than directly engage

with customers, resulting in poor brand page performances (Michaelidou,

Siamagka, & Christodoulides, 2011). Baird & Parasnis (2011) point out that

companies in SNS should center their attachment on customers and their

influential virtual social networks, rather than just posting advertisements, as the

driving force of successful relationship marketing strategies. They further stated

that there are still many managerial problems associated with the operations of

brand pages in SNS, such as strategic planning is not well formulated, and what

customers really value from their interactions on the brand page is not well known.

Regarding marketing strategies of the brand page in SNS, Askool and Nakata

(2011) stated that a customer-centric model should be considered as the main

component, and companies should focus more on customers and relationships

with them rather than on products or services.

2.3. The Commitment-Trust Theory

Morgan and Hunt (1994) developed the Commitment-Trust Theory (CTT) to

study the relational exchanges in relationship marketing. Commitment and trust

are theorized to play key mediating roles in establishing, developing, and

17
maintaining the relationships between concerned parties. Morgan and Hunt (1994)

posit commitment and trust as central elements in relationship marketing for

several reasons. First, a high level of commitment and trust encourages

investment from exchange partners to achieve mutual benefits. Second, they defer

partners from being attracted for short-term benefits. Third, they guarantee trading

parties to engage in fewer opportunistic behaviors.

The CTT contains a model called the key mediating variable (KMV) model,

which proposes that commitment and trust serve as mediators between five

antecedents and five outcomes of relationship marketing. Figure 2.1 shows the

theoretical framework of CTT, which includes three sets of model components:

relationship antecedents, relationship mediators, and relationship outcomes.

Relationship antecedents include model constructs of relationship termination

costs, relationship benefits, shared values, communications, and opportunistic

behavior. Relationship mediators include model constructs of commitment and

trust. Relationship outcomes include model constructs of acquiesce, propensity to

leave, cooperation, functional conflict, and uncertainty.

18
Relationship Relationship Relationship
Antecedents Mediators Outcomes
------------------------------- --------------------------- -----------------------------

Relationship Acquiesce
termination costs
+ +

+ _
Relationship Propensity to
Commitment
benefits leave
+ +

Shared values Cooperation

+ +
+ + Functional
Communications Trust
conflict
_ _

Opportunistic
Uncertainty
behavior

Figure 2.1 Key Mediating Variable Model of CTT

A large body of literature considers this theoretical model as the main focus of

CTT. CTT has been applied in different contexts by considering different contents

of relationship antecedents and outcomes. The applications of CTT advocate

better relationships between trading parties in various contexts such as between

organizations and employees (Iverson, McLeod, & Erwin, 1996; Wong & Sohal,

2002), companies and customers (De Ruyter, Moorman, & Lemmink, 2001;

Garbarino & Johnson, 1999), and business partners (Friman, Grling, Millett,

Mattsson, & Johnston, 2002; Goo & Huang, 2008). Table 2.2 presents some of

19
selected applications of CTT in various research contexts, together with their

corresponding model components of relationship antecedents and outcomes.

Table 2.2 CTT Applications in Various Contexts


Literature Research Context Relationship Antecedents Relationship Outcomes
Iverson et al. Employee Job-related variables; Service accomplishment;
(1996) relationships in External variable; Acceptance of change;
organization External job opportunity;
Personal variables;
Garbarino & Company customer Actor satisfaction; Future intentions
Johnson (1999) relationships Actor familiarity;
Play attitudes;
Theater attitudes;
De Ruyter et al. Customer -supplier Offer characteristics; Loyalty intention
(2001) relationships Relationship characteristics;
Market characteristics;
Friman, et al. International Relationship termination Long-term relationship
(2002) business costs
partnerships in the Relationship benefits
service sector Shared values
Communication
Opportunistic behavior
Lancastre & Buyer supplier Economic content; Cooperation
Lages (2006) cooperative Resources content;
relationships in Social content;
e-marketplace
Mukherjee & Online retailing Termination cost Behavioral Intentions:
Nath (2007) Relationship benefit Word of mouth intention;
Shared values Purchase Intention;
Communication Continued Interaction;
Opportunistic behavior
Privacy
Security
Goo & Huang IT outsourcing Foundation characteristics; Acquisence;
(2008) relationship Governance characteristics; Relationship durability;
Change management Cooperation;
characteristics; Harmonious conflict
resolution;
Active information
exchange;
Han, Lee, & Seo IT outsourcing Information sharing Outsourcing success
(2008) relationship Communication quality
Collaborative participation
Westerlund, et al. Online social Functional motives; Cognitive commitment;
(2009) community Social motives; Affective commitment;
Psychological motives;
Hsu, Liu, & Lee Customer Satisfaction; Behavioral Intentions
(2010) relationship Corporate Image;
management
through social
networking
Chou, Chang, & Internal Relationship benefits; Acquiescence;
Yen (2011) partnerships Interaction justice; Organizational citizenship
Shared work values; behavior;
Communication; Avoidance of work
Opportunistic behavior; destructive behavior;
Cooperation;
Daqing (2013) Social networking Social identity; Loyalty
sites Flow experience;

20
We now proceed to elaborate model constructs of commitment and trust in this

section. The other two model components will be discussed in the subsequent

sections later.

2.3.1. Commitment

Commitment is considered as one of the most critical issues in the customer

relationship and customer behavior literature (Garbarino & Johnson, 1999). Good

customer relationships cannot be built effectively without a solid foundation of

commitment (Fullerton, 2005; Hocutt, 1998). In traditional exchange relationships,

commitment is generally defined as an enduring desire to maintain a valuable

relationship (Moorman, Zaltman, & Deshpande, 1992, p. 316). Such a

commitment is built upon the mutual benefits that the trading partners receive by

maintaining their business relationship. Morgan and Hunt (1994) define

commitment as an exchange partner believing that an ongoing relationship with

another is so important as to warrant maximum efforts at maintaining it (p.23). In

the service relationship literature, customers commitment to companies is viewed

as a precursor of brand loyalty and is built through providing superior benefits and

promoting companies values (Garbarino & Johnson, 1999).

In this study, the concept of brand page commitment is based on the concept of

customer commitment, and it refers to a customers strong attachment and

emotional bonds with a brand page. Commitment in a brand page can be built

upon superior values derived from the regular posts on the brand page as well as

customers engagement with the brand page (Hsu, et al., 2010). Commitment is

also considered as central to gain the understanding of user attachment and


21
behaviors in SNS and brand community literature. For example, Vasalou et al.

(2010) adopted the behavior chain model to investigate how users experience and

culture shape their commitment to Facebook. Kim et al. (2008) investigate how

company-hosted online social communities influence customer commitment and

subsequent behaviors. Jang et al. (2008) confirm that brand communities

characteristics, such as information quality and interaction intensity, would affect

customer commitment and brand loyalty. As such, commitment could also

contribute to a set of targeted favorable outcomes of customer relationships, such

as loyalty (Cater & Zabkar, 2009), retention (Gustafsson, Johnson, & Roos, 2005),

and coproduction intention (Gruen, Summers, & Acito, 2000). A high level of

commitment in a brand page is believed to be associated with customers loyalty

to a brand (Zhang, Lee, et al., 2013).

While some studies consider commitment to be measured by a single construct

(e.g.,Coote, Forrest, & Tam, 2003; Morgan & Hunt, 1994), many others consider

it as a composition of several constructs. Table 2.3 reveals our literature review on

the model construct of commitment in the research context of SNS and online

community.

22
Table 2.3 Commitment in SNS and Online Community contexts

Commitment constructs Research


Literature
Affective Cognitive contexts
Gupta & Kim (2007) Affective Cognitive Online
community
Casal, Flavin, & Affective Calculative Online brand
Guinalu (2008) community
Kim et al. (2008) Affective Cognitive Online
community
Westerlund et al. (2009) Affective Cognitive SNS
Lampe, Wash, Affective Continuance Online
Velasquez, & Ozkaya community
(2010)
Mollen amd Wilson Affective Cognitive Online
(2010) community
Bateman, Gray, & Butler Affective Continuance Online
(2011) community
Sashi (2012) Affective Calculative SNS
Zhou et al. (2012) Affective Calculative SNS
Nusair, Bilgihan, Affective Calculative SNS
Okumus, & Cobanoglu
(2013)
Wirtz et al. (2013) Affective Cognitive Online brand
community

In Table 2.3, the extant literature generally share the view that the concept of

commitment can be measured by two constructs: affective commitment and

cognitive (also known as calculative or continuance) commitment. For example,

in online community context, studies point out that community members who

have developed a deep affective commitment would generally identify themselves

as part of the community (Kim, Choi, et al., 2008), and therefore they are more

willing participate in the conversations in that community (Bateman, et al., 2011).

Affective commitment makes community members feel a deep emotional

attachment with the community, therefore members with a high level of affective

commitment are more likely to care about the community and to help others in the

23
community (Casal, et al., 2008). Generally, users cognitive commitment in an

online community is driven by their desire to maximize the value they gain from a

community (Wirtz, et al., 2013). As Gupta and Kim (2007) have confirmed, an

online communitys functional usefulness and system quality positively contribute

to users cognitive commitment. Bateman, et al. (2011) indicate that community

members with a deep cognitive commitment may perceive the social costs of

leaving a community as a very high value, particularly if they have spent

considerable efforts in establishing social relations and learning functions in the

community. In the SNS context, studies also share the view that affective

commitment is derived from users feelings of togetherness and sense of

belonging (Sashi, 2012; Westerlund, et al., 2009), while cognitive commitment is

rational- and economic-based which derives from users perceived benefits in

SNS (Nusair, et al., 2013; Zhou, et al., 2012).

Since the research context of this study is the brand page in SNS, we share the

view of SNS and online community literature by conceptualizing brand page

commitment as also consisting of two constructs: affective commitment and

cognitive commitment. In brand pages, affective commitment is an emotional

factor that based mainly on customers emotional involvement and inner feelings

(Wirtz, et al., 2013). It is mainly based on customers perceptions of sense of

belonging and feelings of being cared for (Gustafsson, et al., 2005). Cognitive

commitment is a more rational- and utility-based factor which relies on the

benefits that a customer receives from the relationship (Gustafsson, et al., 2005).

It was reported that cognitive commitment is largely determined by the continuing

benefits that are delivered to customers (Royo-Vela & Casamassima, 2011).

24
2.3.2. Trust

Trust is considered as another important factor for business success in many

different disciplines, such as knowledge sharing (Chow & Chan, 2008),

information systems (Nicolaou & McKnight, 2006), social networks

(Grabner-Kruter, 2009), and e-commerce (McKnight, Choudhury, & Kacmar,

2002). Trust is generally defined as a willingness to rely on an exchange partner

in whom one has confidence (Moorman, Deshpande, & Zaltman, 1993, p.82).

Willingness is highlighted in this definition because it is strongly associated with

the trustors future behavioral intentions. Consistent with this definition, Morgan

and Hunt (1994) define trust in traditional business relationships as existing

when one party has confidence in an exchange partners reliability and integrity

(p.23). They consider gaining confidence as a key factor in trust between two

trading parties, and that this confidence is based on certain qualities from a

trustworthy party, such as consistency, honesty, and fairness.

In the traditional pattern of customer relationship, customers trust may be based

on the promotional effect of companies and customers transaction experiences

(Moorman, et al., 1993). However, in the online environment, it is suggested that

trust could be already developed before a customer actually consumes the

products or services of companies (Mukherjee & Nath, 2007). Ba (2001) explored

the nature of online trust by dividing it into different types. He suggests that trust,

at its initial stage, is based on economic calculation. When there is an online

information communication, trust would be information-based since the

information creates a level of predictability of the other party. On the other hand,

online trust is also transference-based, which is embedded in social relations. In


25
the context of e-commerce, trust is conceptualized as based on both system

characteristics (e.g., functionality, reliability, and security) (Kim, Song, Braynov,

& Rao, 2005), and vender characteristics (e.g., competence, benevolence, and

integrity) (McKnight, et al., 2002).

In the context of SNS and online community, trust is also conceptualized as a

composition of several constructs. Table 2.4 presents a literature review on the

constructs of trust in the context of SNS and online community. We further

elaborate this trust development below.

Table 2.4 Trust in SNS and Online Community Contexts

Trusts constructs Research


Literature
Information-based Identification-based contexts
Online
Ba (2001) Information-based Transference-based
community
Leimeister et al. Online
System-based Interpersonal-based
(2005) community
Hsu et al. (2007) Information-based Identification-based Online
community
Grabner-Kruter Technology-related Personal-related SNS
(2009)
Kosonen (2009) Trust in knowledge Trust in members Online
quality community
Westerlund et al. Technology trust Interpersonal trust SNS
(2009)
Fang & Chiu Trust in Trust in members Online
(2010) informational justice community
Hsiao et al. (2010) Trust in website Trust in social Online
network community
Benlian & Hess Quality assured Interpersonal-based Online
(2011) content-based community
Lankton (2011) Technology-related Interpersonal-related SNS

26
Leimeister et al. (2005) point out that in online communities, the concept of trust

is based on both community characteristics and interpersonal relationships. Hsu et

al. (2007) share a similar view, suggesting that trust in online communities may

be built upon the benefits derived from information and knowledge in the

community, and also upon the identification with other members in the

community. Hsiao et al. (2010) also report that users purchasing intention in an

online community is influenced by two aspects of trust: trust in the website

(which is based on website characteristics), and trust in other members

recommendations (which is based on the trustworthiness of other members).

In our study context, the major characteristic of brand pages is the dissemination

of brand information to customers (Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2011a). The

information allows customers to better assess the quality of the brand page (e.g.,

honesty and integrity). Therefore, brand page trust may be largely based on the

brand pages information quality, such as accuracy, reliability, and objectivity

(Grabner-Kruter, 2009). On the other hand, customers interpersonal trust on the

brand page may be based on their identification with others. The trustworthiness

(e.g., honesty, integrity, benevolence) of brand page members can also be

transferred to the brand page, and therefore can help customers build stronger

confidence on the brand page (Lankton & McKnight, 2011; Ng, 2013). As

Westerlund et al. (2009) indicate, trust in social networking communities can be

understood in the context of interpersonal relationships, that is, trust between

members in the community.

Based on above, we thus conceptualize that trust in the brand page can be

categorized into two constructs: information-based trust and identification-based


27
trust. Information-based trust represents customers trust in the information that

posted on the brand page, including information from companies and from other

customers. Identification-based trust represents customers trust in other members

on the brand page, which is based on the trustworthiness of other customers.

2.4. Relationship Antecedents

2.4.1. Relationship Antecedents in CTT

Morgan and Hunt (1994) originally propose five relationship antecedents in CTT:

relationship termination cost, relationship benefits, shared values, communication,

and opportunistic behavior. According to Morgan and Hunt (1994), relationship

termination cost refers the switching cost that one party will suffer if seeking an

alternative business partner. Relationship benefits refer to the mutual benefits that

both parties generate in the business relationship. Shared value is the common

beliefs that both parties share about their goals, behaviors, and regulations in a

business relationship. Communication refers to the exchanging of timely and

valuable information between trading partners. Lastly, opportunistic behavior

refers to the behavior that one partner will do for self-interest maximization

especially in short-term relationships.

The above five original factors of relationship antecedents have been proven to

have a great predictive power in predicting commitment and trust between trading

parties in business partnerships (e.g., Goo & Huang, 2008; Wu, et al., 2012).

However, these constructs may have a limited insight in explaining customers

commitment and trust on the brand page because such commitment and trust of
28
the latter case are considered as unilateral. As explained in Chapter 1, this thesis

proposes to measure the model component of relationship antecedents be based on

the Customer Value Theory (CVT), which focuses on customers value

perceptions to explain commitment and trust on the brand page. We now proceed

to review relevant literature on CVT below.

2.4.2. The Customer Value Theory

Studies on customer decision making have evolved from an initial focus solely

based on cognitive factors to include intrinsic factors such as hedonic and esthetic

perceptions (Kim, Chan, & Gupta, 2007). Following this stream of directive

research, the Customer Value Theory (CVT) is developed to explain why

consumers make the choices they do based on different value perceptions, such as

functional, social, and conditional values (Sheth, Newman, & Gross, 1991). CVT

integrates components from various customer behavioral models and assumes that

customer choice is a function of multiple value dimensions (Turel, Serenko, &

Bontis, 2010). These value dimensions consider different aspects of customer

perceptions, and they make different contributions in different choice situations

(Chang & Weng, 2012). In the SNS literature, Baird and Parasnis (2011) indicate

that understanding what customers really value is critical for companies seeking

to build and to maintain customer relationships through SNS. Woodcock et al.

(2011) also point out that although many companies today recognize the

importance of using SNS to connect with customers, most of them fail to

understand what their customers really value.

CVT originally identifies five customer values that would influence consumers
29
decision-making: functional value, conditional value, social value, emotional

value, and epistemic value (Sheth, et al., 1991). These multiple values make

different contributions to customers decision-making choices in different

situations such as offline department stores and online stores (Kim, Gupta, & Koh,

2011). Along with the development of this theory, many scholars pointed out that

some of these values (i.e., functional value, conditional value, social value,

emotional value, and epistemic value) are inter-related, and theres no

well-accepted measures on how to quantify these values (Sweeney & Soutar,

2001). With respect to these issues, Sweeney and Soutar (2001) designed an

instrument called PERVAL to quantify the measure of customer values. They

conducted reliability and validity assessment test for the PERVAL, and refined the

original five values into three major ones: functional, social, and emotional values.

According to Sweeney and Soutar (2001), functional value includes aspects of

quality and value for money, and it derives from perceived performance, and

monetary value of products or service. It is traditionally recognized as the

principal driver of a customers value perception. Social value refers to the

perceived benefits of enhancing customers social well-being and social

relationships. Emotional value is the perceived utility derived from the inner

feelings or affective states that a product or service generates.

CVT has been widely applied in literature to investigate customer attitudes and

behaviors in various decision-making environments. Table 2.5 reviews studies

employing CVT in different disciplines including traditional marketing,

e-commerce, and social networking applications. In Table 2.5, most of CVT

applications have measured customer values by referring to those three major

30
constructs (i.e., functional, social, and emotional values) proposed by Sweeney

and Soutar (2001). For example, in both online and offline marketing contexts,

studies share the view that functional value (also called utilitarian value and

economic value), social value, and emotional value (also called hedonic value) are

major value perceptions that contribute to customers purchasing intentions

(Cheng, Wang, Lin, & Vivek, 2009; Rintamki, Kuusela, & Mitronen, 2007;

Smith & Colgate, 2007). As such, this thesis also considered our customer values

to be based on these three constructs.

In the SNS and online community context, these three customer values (i.e.,

functional, social, and emotional values) are also widely employed to understand

customers decision-making behaviors. For example, Kim et al. (2011)

investigated customers intention to buy digital items in SNS, and confirmed that

both emotional and social values have positive effects on customers purchase

intention. The study of Wang and Fesenmaier (2004) confirmed that users

perceptions of functional, social, and hedonic values all positively influence their

participation in an online community. Gummerus et al. (2012) find that both social

and emotional values could improve customers satisfaction with a brand

community, while emotional value further increases customers loyalty.

31
Table 2.5 CVT Applications in Various Contexts

Sources Research Context Customer Values


Lee, Kim, Lee, & Kim Mobile internet Functional value
(2002) Monetary value
Emotional value
Social value
Dholakia, Bagozzi, & Virtual community Purposive value
Pearo (2004) Self-discovery value
Social enhancement value
Entertainment value
Wang and Fesenmaier Online community Functional value
(2004) Social value
Psychological value
Hedonic value
Rintamki, Kanto, Department store Utilitarian value
Kuusela, & Spence shopping Social value
(2006) Hedonic value
Rintamki, Kuusela, & Offline retailing Economic value
Mitronen (2007) Functional value
Emotional value
Symbolic value
Smith & Colgate (2007) Offline marketing Functional value
Cost value
Hedonic value
Symbolic value
Cheng, Wang, Lin, & Online retailing Functional value
Vivek (2009) Emotional value
Social value
Epistemic value
Fiol et al. (2009) Offline clusters Functional value
Social value
Emotional value
Chang, Xiao, & Luo Online community Functional value
(2010) Social value
Lu & Hsiao (2010) Social networking Functional value (price,
site quality)
Emotional value
Social value
Turel, et al. (2010) Digital artifacts Visual appeal value
consumption Social value
Playfulness value
Monetary value
Kim, et al. (2011) Social networking Functional value
site Emotional value
Social value

Gummerus et al. (2012) Online brand Economic value


community Social value
Entertainment value

32
Although many studies focus generally on these three customer values, Kim et al.

(2011) point out that it is important to gain a full understanding about the content

of each customer value. Some past studies treat the content of functional, social,

and emotional values as the black box and provide no explanation of what

actually leads to a perception of increased value in each of these customer values

(e.g.,Lee, et al., 2002; Lu & Hsiao, 2010). Woodruff (1997) suggests a

hierarchical structure to study a higher order of these customer values that based

on their structural properties. This approach articulates customer values to be

operated at the top level of the hierarchy and provide the contextual frame for

various customer experiences (Mathwick, Malhotra, & Rigdon, 2001). Following

this doctrine, we conceptualize each of these three customer values be represented

as a second-order model construct, and we conduct a literature review to identify

how to measure each of these model constructs in the brand page context.

Extant studies have offered different coverage and label for the content of

functional, social, and emotional values in the context of online community and

SNS. Through a literature review, our study identifies the primary characteristics

of each customer value based on an integration and a reorganization of previous

studies that relate to our research context (see Table 2.6). In Table 2.6, we

matched literature findings by grouping factors with similar meanings and gave

them a unified label. For example, in column 2 of Table 2.6, studies of Baek et al.

(2011), Jahn and Kunz (2012), and Liang et al. (2011) stated respectively that

useful information, useful content, and helpful information are important aspects

of functional value. Since these three contents all measured the quality of

information, we thus grouped them into one construct of functional value and

33
labeled them as information quality. In this manner, we identified three

constructs to measure functional value (i.e., information quality, product-related

learning, and economic benefit), three constructs to measure social value (i.e.,

interactivity, collaboration, and social presence), and two constructs to measure

emotional value (i.e., entertainment and arousal). In particular, the first row of

Table 2.6 represents the three customer values (i.e., functional value, social value,

and emotional value). The second row of Table 2.6 refers to the respective

constructs that can be used to measure the model constructs of customer values as

presented in row one. Figure 2.2 clearly outlines the framework of customer

values in this study. (In the modeling, this thesis considers model constructs as

second-order constructs, and respective constructs as their first-order constructs).

Now, we discuss the constructs that associated with each of the three customer

values below.

34
Table 2.6 Customer Values in SNS and Online Community Context (1/2)

Functional value Social value Emotional value


Literature Information Product-related Economic Social
Interactivity Collaboration Entertainment Arousal
quality learning benefit presence
Baek et al. Useful - - Communication - - Entertainment -
(2011) information and enjoyable
Dholakia Diverse, Learn about - Communicate Get help and - - -
(2009) updated, and product-related with members help others
accurate decisions
information
Goh et al. Content Product-related - Communication - - - Feel
(2013) information experience interested
richness
Gummerus - - Economic Interactivity - Social Entertainment -
(2012) benefits presence
Gupta and Useful - - Social - - Pleasure Arousal
Kim (2007) information interaction
Jahn and Useful - - Interaction - - Entertaining -
Kunz (2012) content
Kim et al. - - Price - Social support Project Playfulness -
(2011) utility personal
characteristics
Liang et al. Helpful - - Social Being - - Appraisal
(2011) information interaction responded to, and
or knowledge and helped by encouraging
others
Lin (2008) Information - - - Social support Awareness of - -
quality others in the
community
Lu and Hsiao Quality - Value for Social - - Enjoyment -
(2010) money interaction

35
Table 2.6 Literature Review on Functional, Social, and Emotional Values in SNS and Brand Community Context (2/2)

Nambisan - Product - - Social Context Enjoyment, Stimulation


and Baron learning integrative facilitation relaxation
(2007)
Pentina et al. Objective - - Interaction Collaborate - - Feel
(2013) information with others interested
and news
Smock et al. Expressive Professional - Social Companionship - Relaxing -
(2011) information advancement interaction entertainment
Sung et al. Valuable Learning to Seeking - - - Entertainment -
(2010) information solve problems for and enjoyable
incentives
Westerman - - - Responsiveness Connectedness - Playfulness -
(2012)
Xu et al. - - - Immediate Coordination Social Leisure Affection
(2012) access presence
Yen et al. - Problem Rewards Interaction - - - Feeling
(2011) -solving arousal,
support stimulated

36
Model Component Model Constructs Constructs
-------------------------- -------------------------- -------------------------

Information
quality

Functional Value Product-related


learning

Economic
benefit

Interactivity

Customer Value Social Value Collaboration

Social Presence

Entertainment
Emotional Value
Arousal

Figure 2.2 Customer Value Framework

2.4.3. Functional Value

Functional value is defined as the utility derived from the product due to the

reduction of its perceived short term and longer term costs, or from the perceived

quality and expected performance of the product (Sweeney & Soutar, 2001, p.

211). In this thesis, functional value refers to the utility derived from the brand

page for presenting high quality contents and providing superior rewards. In Table

2.6, we identified three constructs that can be used to quantify the model construct

37
of functional value: information quality, product-related learning, and economic

benefit. We further explain these constructs below.

2.4.3.1.Information Quality

Information quality measures the overall perceived value of information posted on

a brand page. It can be based on various aspects such as validity, accuracy,

timeliness, and so on (Wu, 2013). Since customers tend to seek benefits from the

timely updated and extensive information in online environments (Dholakia, et al.,

2009), a brand page with a high information quality would be regarded as a

valuable resource for customers (Lin, 2008). In addition, since no physical

product is being sold on the brand page, the quality of information that describes

these products may become one of the major means for customers to evaluate the

quality of the brand page (Jahn & Kunz, 2012). Such a perception of quality forms

the major source for customers to gain more product knowledge on the brand page.

A high quality of information can enhance customers confidence in a brand page

since it implies that the brand page does not make inaccurate and false statements

(Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2011b; Hsiao, et al., 2010). Moreover, it is expected that a

high quality of information on a brand page can keep customers staying with the

brand page in order to continue receiving these high quality information

(Gummerus, et al., 2012).

2.4.3.2.Product-related Learning

Product-related learning measures the brand pages functional value in providing

customers with product-related knowledge. Many customers participate in online


38
brand communities in order to learn more about specific products (Yen, et al.,

2011), and this phenomena is also applied to SNS brand pages. For companies,

the product-related information that they post on brand pages are not only for

promotional purposes but also for the enhancement of customers product

knowledge (Pentina, Zhang, et al., 2013). These information can help customers

become more familiar with the companys products and services, and learn to

solve product-related problems (Pentina, Zhang, et al., 2013). Instead of searching

a huge amount of information available online, customers can easily find what

they need on the brand page. Through this learning process, customers may

perceive that the brand page can offer professional advices on their product usage,

and may thus develop trust towards the brand page. Such trust is built upon the

brand pages competence in helping customers learn more about specific

products/services (Dholakia, et al., 2009). Moreover, customers who have

acquired knowledge and achieved learning goals in an online community are more

likely to remain engaged in the community for continuing knowledge

enhancement and helping others (Dholakia, et al., 2004).

2.4.3.3.Economic Benefit

Economic benefit refers to the economic value that customers obtain from brand

pages through a mean of receiving coupons, gaining discounts, getting better

services, participating in raffles, and so on. Companies may constantly offer

monetary rewards to customers on brand page as a form of incentives that

stimulates customers participation and loyalty (Vorvoreanu, 2009). In addition to

monetary rewards, companies can also offer economic benefits to customers by

providing them with better services and faster responses on the brand page
39
(Gummerus, et al., 2012). Ba (2001) suggested users confidence in a community

is largely based on an economic calculation. When customers receive economic

benefits from a brand page, they may develop a positive attitude towards the

brand page because this event generates the brand pages ability to create an

added value for them (Yen, et al., 2011). Past studies also indicate that customers

tend to prefer service providers who really care for them (McKnight, et al., 2002).

Providing economic benefits to customers on the brand page is one way to show

that the company takes care of customers interests (Muk, 2013). On the other

hand, Schiffman (2000) indicates that economic reward seeking is positively

related to customers attachment to service providers. As confirmed by

Gummerus et al. (2012), the economic benefit that customers receive from a

Facebook brand community would also enhance their loyalty to the brand

community.

2.4.4. Social Value

Social value is defined as the utility derived from the products ability to enhance

social self-concept (Sweeney & Soutar, 2001, p. 211). In this thesis, social value

refers to the utility derived from the brand pages ability to enhance customers

social relationships and social self-concept on the brand page. In Table 2.6, we

identified three constructs for measuring the model construct of social value:

interactivity, collaboration, and social presence. We now explain these constructs

below.

40
2.4.4.1.Interactivity

Interactivity on the brand page refers to customers social interactions with the

company and other members of a brand page. On the brand page, customers can

interact with others by replying their posts, forwarding their posts, directly

chatting with them, and so on. Powel (2009) suggests that the interaction and

communication on SNS brand pages allow customers to establish their social ties

with other members, which could further foster trust relationships between them.

Lin and Lu (2011a) indicate that one way to gain trust on the brand page is to

develop a platform that allows customers to communicate and interact with each

other. On the other hand, Dholakia et al. (2004) indicate that social interactions

with other members in a virtual community could enhance customers sense of

belonging and commitment. Such interactions generated over time would

strengthen customers emotional attachment, and help them develop a stronger

social identity among other members (Kim, Choi, et al., 2008).

2.4.4.2.Collaboration

Collaboration is another aspect of social value that refers to the exchange of help

and support among followers on the brand page. Customers may collaborate with

each other on the brand page by helping them to solve product-related problems,

exchanging valuable information, contributing to product development, and so on

(Lin & Lu, 2011a). Such a collaboration effort and member support may make

customers feel a sense of belonging, which could further forester relationships

among community members (Hsiao & Chiou, 2012). Users collaborations in a

brand community may also increase the familiarity and closeness among them
41
(Ng, 2013). The familiarity and closeness developed among community members

could further enhance their trust in the brand community because users perceive

the good intentions offered from other users. In addition, collaboration on the

brand page enhances social ties among customers. Strong social ties would form a

solid foundation of attachment to a brand page (Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2013b).

2.4.4.3.Social Presence

Social presence is recognized as one of the key features of SNS (Chen, 2013; Xu,

et al., 2012). The technology characteristics of SNS brand pages make users feel a

higher level of social presence because it facilitates them to experience others as

being psychologically present through close and frequent contacts (Xu, et al.,

2012). SNS brand pages could further facilitate social presence by creating a

community in which customers feel a sense of human warmth (Dholakia, et al.,

2004). The social presence of social values may also help improve customers

confidence in the online environment because it reduces uncertainty during their

participation and engagement in online communities (Lancastre & Lages, 2006).

In the meantime, the social warmth promoted by social presence could help

customers develop an emotional attachment to online communities, and thus

further elevate their commitment to the community (Xu, et al., 2012).

2.4.5. Emotional Value

Emotional value is defined as the utility derived from the feelings or affective

states that a product generates (Sweeney & Soutar, 2001, p. 211). In this thesis,

emotional value refers to the utility derived from the inner-feelings or affective
42
state that a brand page generates. In Table 2.6, we identified two constructs for

measuring the model construct of emotional value: entertainment and arousal. We

now explain these constructs below.

2.4.5.1.Entertainment

Entertainment is the intrinsic fun and enjoyment that customers experience when

engaging with a brand page (Gummerus, et al., 2012). Elements of entertainment

may derive from the information posted on the brand page, or from the activities

initiated by the brand page (Nambisan & Baron, 2007). The entertaining contents

could contribute to customers happiness, and such feelings could enhance

customers positive feelings toward that brand page. According to Pentina and

Zhang (2013), positive feelings of engagement generate a positive attitude

towards trust building in SNS. In addition, Chen (2013) finds that individuals who

enjoy using SNS exhibit a stronger intention to continue to use. Kim et al. (2013)

also suggest that users who experience pleasure and fun when engaging with

technology would be intrinsically motivated toward a higher level of engagement

and continuance intention. Since the brand page is built in SNS which focuses

heavily on hedonic elements, entertainment should be regarded as one of the

major emotional experiences that provided to users (Wu & Holsapple, 2014).

2.4.5.2.Arousal

Arousal refers to the perceived stimulation, excitement, or curiosity generated by

engaging in absorbing interactions on a brand page (Gupta & Kim, 2007). Kim

and Stoel (2004) show that when users feel cheerful about a website, they tend to
43
trust that particular website more. On the brand page, a high level of arousal

feelings would encourage more frequent participating behaviors, which would

lead to a high level of social capital. Relationships among users become more

solid when there is greater social capital involved in an online community (Hsiao

& Chiou, 2012). Arousal would also help to enhance customers affective states

and, in turn, would encourage them to keep following a brand page. On the brand

page, emotional value can be derived from ones feelings of being aroused and

excited about receiving information and participating in related activities

(Gummerus, et al., 2012). Such a value could help strengthen customers inner

feelings about the brand page, and thus could help them to develop a deeper

attachment to the brand page (Westerlund, et al., 2009).

2.5. Relationship Outcomes

2.5.1. General Observations

According to Morgan and Hunt (1994), relationship outcomes are highly desirable

measures of business performance in the process of relationship development. In

CTT, Morgan and Hunt (1994) consider five relationship outcomes in traditional

exchange business relationships: acquiescence, propensity to leave, cooperation,

functional conflict, and decision-making uncertainty. Acquiescence is a direct

outcome of commitment, and it is defined as the degree to which a partner

accepts or adheres to another's specific requests or policies (Morgan & Hunt,

1994, p. 25). Since cooperation between business partners are normally based on

formal contracts, acquiescence is essential for both parties to commit to such a

relationship (Goo & Huang, 2008). Propensity to leave is another factor


44
influenced by commitment of business partners, and it is the likelihood of

perception that a business partner will stop the relationship or transaction with

companies in the near future (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). Cooperation is the only

outcome that contributed by both commitment and trust in traditional business

environment, and it also refers to behaviors of both partners to work together for

mutual benefits (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). Functional conflict is a factor that

directly affected by mutual trust of business partners, and it refers to the

disagreements that have been resolved satisfactorily. Such functional conflict

provides a platform through which future problems between partners can be

settled easily (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). Decision-making uncertainty refers to the

situation in which a partner does not have sufficient information and confidence to

make decisions. Uncertainty between two trading parties could be greatly reduced

if a mutual trust is built between them (Goo & Huang, 2008). These five

relationship outcomes in CTT are identified and applied in the context of business

partnerships, and that they are influenced by mutual trust and commitment of both

trading parties. In our study, we only focus on customers perspectives and

examine the outcomes of customers trust and commitment on the brand page.

Therefore, our relationship outcomes should be clearly emphasized to cater

company-customer relationships in the context of brand page as described below.

2.5.2. Relationship Outcomes on the Brand Page

Faase et al. (2011) suggest that the relationship outcomes of companies use of

SNS can be measured in two dimensions. One is customer retention, which is the

traditional goal of customer relationship management. The other one is customer

involvement, which is enabled through the social interactivity features of SNS.


45
Past studies reveal that relationship durability and functional conflict are two of

the favorable customer retention outcomes in customer relationship development

(e.g., De Ruyter, et al., 2001; Hur, et al., 2011; Skarmeas, 2006). Mukherjee and

Nath (2007) suggest that the outcomes of online customer involvement include

electronic word of mouth (eWOM) intention, purchase intention, and continued

interaction. In this study, we consider the following four relationship outcomes

that are essential for measuring business performance in the brand page context:

relationship durability, functional conflict, eWOM intention, and continued

interaction. We excluded the measure of purchase intention because this study

focuses on the kind of brand page that does not engage direct transactions (Ng,

2013).

Table 2.7 reviews relevant literature on our four proposed relationship outcomes

in the context of online community and SNS, indicating that they are highly

desirable customer relationship outcomes in the online business environment. We

now elaborate each of them below.

46
Table 2.7 Relationship Outcomes in SNS and Online Community Contexts

Relationship Continued Functional


Literature eWOM
Durability Interaction conflict
Algesheimer et Membership Recommend Participation
al. (2005) duration
Gruen (2006) Relationship eWOM
loyalty communication
Brown et al. eWoM Interactions
(2007)
Mukherjee & WOM Continued
Nath (2007) communication interaction
Jang, et al. Loyalty Resolve
(2008) conflicts
Kim et al. eWOM Participation
(2008)
Woisetschlger Long-lasting WOM Interaction/
et al. (2008) relationship participation
Ahn et al. Decrease in
(2010) disagreements
Casalet al. Participation
(2010)
Hennig-Thurau Retention eWOM Interaction
et al. (2010)
Hsu et al. Continuance Settle
(2010) disagreements
Madupu & Sustainable Recommend
Cooley (2010) loyalty intention
Stokburger Loyalty Actively
Sauer & promote
Nicola (2010)
Hur, et al. eWOM Constructive
(2011) complaints
Liang, et al. Continuance Willing to
(2011) intention recommend
Yen et al. Recommend Providing Resolve
(2011) feedback complaints
Gummerus et Continuance Recommend
al. (2012)
Nobel et al. Promoting Functional
(2012) complaints
Sashi (2012) Retention Advocacy Interaction
Brodie et al. Loyalty Advocating Co-developing
(2013)
Goh et al. eWOM Provide
(2013) comments

47
2.5.3. Relationship Durability

In our study context, relationship durability refers to the likelihood that customers

will remain as being a follower of a brand page. As long as customers do not

terminate their relationships with the brand page, their future procurements can be

encouraged through the brand pages marketing activities (Pentina, Gammoh,

Zhang, & Mallin, 2013). This relationship durability is essential to brand page

success because once the relationship is terminated, none of the other outcomes

can be accomplished (Wang, 2013). As Algesheimer et al. (2005) stated,

membership duration in an online brand community is considered as one of the

most essential customer relationship outcomes. Moreover, studies have confirmed

that customers intentions to retain as a member in the brand community has a

positive impact on their loyalty intentions toward the company of the brand

community (Brodie, et al., 2013). In such, customers willing to continue their

relationship with the brand page would also enhance their loyalty to the company

of the brand page. Wang (2013) further confirmed the importance of customers

relationship durability as it contributes to customers willingness to participate on

the brand page.

2.5.4. Electronic word of mouth

Electronic word of mouth (eWOM) refers to noncommercial online interpersonal

communication among individuals (Cheung & Lee, 2012). The brand page in SNS

provides a platform for users to spread eWOM about companies faster and more

easily among their connected friends (Brown, et al., 2007). Therefore, companies

are increasingly exploring the potential of brand pages that could promote the
48
awareness of their brands using eWOM practices (de Vries, et al., 2012). The

extant literature recognize that user-generated contents and information exchange

on the brand page are rich sources to create eWOM marketing effects (Cvijikj &

Michahelles, 2013b; Jansen, et al., 2009). Good customer relationships on the

brand page are solid foundations for motivating customers to spread positive

eWOM to their connected friends (Jansen, et al., 2009). The spreading of eWOM

would also help other customers make better informed purchasing decisions

(Zheng, Zhu, & Lin, 2013). In the meantime, companies of brand pages can also

attract potential customers through positive eWOM generated by existing

consumers (Stephen & Toubia, 2010). Zheng et al. (2013) suggest that the

credibility of the company should be enhanced through brand page activities in

order to encourage more helpful eWOM communications.

2.5.5. Continued Interaction

Continued interaction refers to the behavioral intentions of customers to keep

engaging and interacting with the company of a brand page. On the brand page,

customers can provide feedbacks and suggestions to companies through various

channels such as posting comments and sending private messages (de Vries, et al.,

2012). Customers continued interactions with the company are considered

essential for business success because customers feedbacks and opinions would

help to improve products and services of a company (Nambisan & Baron, 2009).

Kim et al. (2008) stated that customers interaction with the company, in terms of

suggesting new ideas and opinions, is an important outcome of customer

relationships in online brand communities. Such interactions indicate that

customers care about the development of a company. On the brand page, many
49
companies often organize activities as an attempt to encourage customers to

interact directly with them (Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2013b). Through close and

constant interactions on the brand page, companies believe that they could know

more about customers needs and thus could improve their products and services

accordingly (Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2011a).

2.5.6. Functional Conflict

Functional conflict is another important factor in customer retention (Skarmeas,

2006). Functional conflict provides a medium through which problems can be

aired and solutions arrived at (Morgan & Hunt, 1994, p.26) in the future.

Conflict and disagreements between companies and customers are inevitable.

However, through the platforms of SNS brand pages, they can be resolved much

more quickly and effectively (Subrahmanyam, et al., 2008). When a company and

a customer achieve a mutually satisfying conflict resolution through

communications and interactions on a brand page, this situation is often referred

to as functional conflict (Harris, Ogbonna, & Goode, 2008). Casal (2008) stated

that online brand communities bring companies closer to their customers, and

brand community activities are helpful in resolving conflicts between companies

and customers. On the brand page, companies also consider the harmonious

resolution of conflicts with customers as an important aspect of e-marketing

success (de Vries, et al., 2012). As explained by Lee et al. (2013), when customers

experience or observe how a company satisfactorily resolve conflicts on the brand

page, they would develop a stronger confidence on that company.

50
CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY

This chapter composes of two main parts. First, it presents the proposed research

model and derives research hypotheses. Second, it explains the research

methodology, data collection procedure, and data analysis methods. These two

parts are explained in the following sections:

a) Research Model Development;

b) Research Models and Hypotheses;

c) Instrument Development;

d) Research Sampling and Data Collection Procedure; and

e) Statistical Analysis Methods.

3.1. Research Model Development

Studies on customer behaviors share the view that customers commitment and

trust are key measures of customer relationships with companies (e.g.,Aurier &

NGoala, 2010; De Ruyter, et al., 2001; Garbarino & Johnson, 1999). Customer

relationships in the online environment are also largely determined by customer

commitment and trust (e.g.,Eastlick, Lotz, & Warrington, 2006; Westerlund, et al.,

2009). In online brand communities and social networking sites (SNS), studies

point out that customers commitment and trust are important for maintaining

good customer relationships and boosting business opportunities (Hsu, et al., 2010;

Westerlund, et al., 2009). Therefore, in order to gain a better understanding of the

51
roles of customers commitment and trust in the brand page context, and to

investigate their antecedents and outcomes, this thesis attempts to develop a

theoretical framework that conceptualizes commitment and trust as the central to

gain an understanding of customer relationship in the brand page context. Morgan

and Hunts (1994) Commitment-Trust Theory (CTT) theorizes that commitment

and trust play key mediating roles in the process of relationship development in

the exchange business relationships. This theory has been adopted and highlighted

by many studies that examine different kinds of business relationships (e.g.,Goo

& Huang, 2008; Mukherjee & Nath, 2007; Wu, et al., 2012), confirming its

predictive power in understanding the roles of commitment and trust in various

contexts. Following this doctrine, this study intends to adopt CTT to investigate

the process of customer relationship development on the brand page in SNS.

CTT includes three model components: relationship antecedents, relationship

mediators (i.e., commitment and trust), and relationship outcomes. For the model

component of relationship antecedents, CTT proposes that the shared values

between two trading parties are positively related to both commitment and trust.

Commitment and trust in the CTT were tested in the context of relational

exchange relationship, to which both trading parties commit and trust in an effort

to achieve favorable business outcomes. In our study context, we focus on the

company's brand page to which only customers commitment and trust are

involved. Therefore, applying CTT in our context requires modifications to

account for the possible difference on this one-side commitment and trust. In the

brand page context, studies suggest that understanding what customers really

value is the first and also most vital step in building successful customer

52
relationship when companies deploy SNS (Baird & Parasnis, 2011). Therefore,

this thesis proposes to measure the model component of relationship antecedents

in CTT be based customer value perceptions. We intend to measure customer

values on the brand page based on the Customer Value Theory (CVT). As

discussed in Chapter 2, CVT theorizes that customer values include functional

value, social value, and emotional values. We propose positive effects of these

three constructs on brand page commitment and trust. In this thesis, we

conceptualize each of these three customer values as a second-order formative

construct with their respective constructs as first-order constructs. In particular,

the second-order construct of functional value has three first-order constructs:

information quality, product-related learning, and economic benefit. The

second-order construct of social value has three first-order constructs: interactivity,

collaboration, and social presence. The second-order construct of emotional value

has two first-order constructs: entertainment and arousal.

Consistent with CTT, we theorize that the model component of relationship

mediators consists of brand page commitment and trust. We propose that there is a

positive relationship between brand page trust and brand page commitment. In

this thesis, the construct of brand page commitment is conceptualized as a

second-order formative construct which has two first-order constructs: affective

commitment and cognitive commitment. The construct of brand page trust is also

conceptualized as a second-order formative construct which consists of two

first-order constructs: information-based trust and identification-based trust.

For the model component of relationship outcomes, this thesis identifies four most

commonly discussed relationship outcomes in SNS literature as shown in Table


53
2.7: relationship durability, electronic word of mouth (eWOM) intention,

continued interaction, and functional conflict. We propose that there are positive

effects of brand page commitment and trust on these four relationship outcomes.

In sum, our proposed research model consists of three main model components:

relationship antecedents (customer values), relationship mediators (brand page

commitment and trust), and relationship outcomes (relationship durability,

electronic word of mouth (eWOM) intention, continued interaction, and

functional conflict). The proposed research model investigates how the three

customer values impact brand page commitment and trust, and subsequently how

they further influence relationship outcomes.

3.2. Research Model and Hypotheses

Figure 3.1 shows the proposed research model of this thesis which includes three

model components: relationship antecedents, relationship mediators, and

relationship outcomes. The constructs of functional value, social value, emotional

value, brand page trust, and brand page commitment are treated as second-order

formative constructs which are measured by their respective first-order constructs.

54
Relationship Antecedents Relationship Mediators Relationship Outcomes
--------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------ ----------------------------------
------- -------- ------
Information
quality Affective Cognitive
Customer Values
Product-related
learning
Relationship
H5a Durability
Economic Functional H1a Brand Page
benefit Value Commitment
H6a
H1b
H7a eWOM
Interactivity
Intention
H8a
H2a
Collaboration Social Value H4
H2b
Continued
Social H5b
Presence Interaction
H3a H6b

Brand Page H7b


Entertainment Emotional
H3b Trust
Value
Functional
H8b Conflict
Arousal

Information- Identification-
based based

Second-order constructs Control variables:


Gender, Brand page tenure,
First-order constructs Figure 3.1 Proposed Research Model Age, Industry type

55
We organize and present our proposed model based on five sets of hypothesis: (1)

H1a, H2a, and H3a, which examine the relationships between each customer

value and brand page commitment; (2) H1b, H2b, and H3b, which investigate the

relationships between each customer value and brand page trust; (3) H4, which

examines the relationship between brand page trust and commitment; (4) H5a,

H6a, H7a, and H8a, which examine the relationships between brand page

commitment and each of relationship outcomes; and (5) H5b, H6b, H7b, and H8b,

which investigate the relationship between brand page trust and each of

relationship outcomes. We also included control variables in this study. We now

explain each of these hypotheses below.

3.2.1. Effects of Customer Values on Brand Page Commitment

3.2.1.1.Functional Value

Functional value was originally conceptualized as including quality, performance,

and price utility aspects of products or services (Sweeney & Soutar, 2001). In the

brand page context, this thesis measures the model construct of functional value

with three constructs: information quality, product-related learning, and economic

benefit. Long and Schiffman (2000) indicate that consumers functional value

perceptions are positively associated with their commitment to service providers.

Bernardo (2012) also confirm such a relationship in the online context, suggesting

that users perceived functional value has significant impacts on their commitment

and loyalty toward websites. In SNS literature, functional value is also considered

as a key determinant of customers attitudes and behaviors (Kim, et al., 2011).

56
Gummerus et al. (2012) confirm that the functional value, in terms of economic

and information benefits that customers receive from a Facebook brand

community, would enhance their loyalty to such a community. Therefore, we

consider that the same effect will hold for brand pages where customers may

perceive high functional value in terms of valuable information and economic

rewards. In addition, many customers regard product-related learning as one of

the major functional values on the brand page, and such a learning enhances their

attachments to the brand page since it increases their product expertise (Sung, et

al., 2010). Therefore it is reasonable to assume that if customers find that a brand

page could help them continually gain practical knowledge, they may develop

commitment to the brand page. Based on these observations, we propose:

H1a. Functional value is positively related to ones brand page commitment.

3.2.1.2.Social Value

Social value is derived from a products ability to enhance social self-concept

(Sweeney & Soutar, 2001). Previous studies have further explored the social

self-concept as covering various aspects, such as social self-expression, social

relationship support, social wellbeing, social identity, and so on (Kim, et al., 2011;

Lu & Hsiao, 2010; Steinfield, Ellison, & Lampe, 2008). In the brand page context,

this thesis measures the model construct of social value with three constructs:

interactivity, collaboration, and social presence. Many studies point out that social

value is a significant factor in determining commitment to an online brand

community. For example, Kim et al. (2008) indicate that when customers perceive

57
the social value from social connections built in a community, they would develop

a deeper attachment to the community. Dholakia et al. (2004) reveal that the

social value, in term of social interactions with other members in a virtual

community, could enhance customers sense of belonging and commitment. In the

context of brand pages, the social value of interactivity and collaboration among

customers enhance their social self-expressions and thus further establish social

relationships among them (Hutter, et al., 2013). It is suggested that strong social

relations in the community could further enhance social identity among a group of

people who share similar interest in a brand (Gummerus, et al., 2012). Such a

social identity forms a solid foundation of commitment to a brand page. Cvijikj

and Michahelles (2013b) analyzed customers social activities and interactions on

brand pages, and they reported that a high level of social involvement would

enhance customers willingness to keep following and committing to a brand page.

Therefore, it is reasonable to argue that social value derived from a brand page

would positively relate to customers brand page commitment. Based on these

evidences, we propose:

H2a. Social value is positively related to ones brand page commitment.

3.2.1.3.Emotional Value

Emotional value generally derives from the enhancement of customers inner

feelings and their affective states (Sweeney & Soutar, 2001). In the brand page

context, this thesis measures the model construct of emotional value with two

constructs: entertainment and arousal. Entertainment refers to the feelings of fun

58
and relaxation that customers experience when engaging with a brand page

(Gummerus, et al., 2012). Arousal refers to the feelings of excitement and

stimulation resulting from the participation in brand pages (Gupta & Kim, 2007).

These two aspects of emotional value help to enhance customers affective states

and, in turn, would encourage them to keep following a brand page. Kim et al.

(2013) indicate that users who experience pleasure, fun, and excitement in brand

pages would be intrinsically motivated toward a higher level of engagement and

continuance intention to use. Chen (2013) also finds that individuals who enjoy

using SNS would exhibit a stronger intention to continue use. Emotional value of

the brand page can be derived from ones feelings of having fun, relaxing, and

being excited about receiving information and participating in related activities

(Gummerus, et al., 2012). Such a value could help strengthen customers inner

feelings about the brand page, and thus help them develop a deeper commitment

(Westerlund, et al., 2009). Based on these observations, we propose:

H3a. Emotional value is positively related to ones brand page commitment.

3.2.2. Effects of Customer Values on Brand Page Trust

3.2.2.1.Functional Value

Functional value is also considered a potential driver of customer trust. In the

marketing literature, Smith and Colgate (2007) suggest that functional value,

which measures certain desired characteristics or functions of products or services,

may enhance customers confidence in the quality of firms. Westerlund et al.

59
(2009) also confirmed the relationship between users functional value perception

and their trust in the social networking community. Similarly, in SNS brand pages,

functional value can contribute to brand page trust in many ways. For example,

since there is no physical product being sold on brand pages, the functional aspect

of information quality on the brand page becomes one of the major means for

customers to assess the quality of the brand page (Jahn & Kunz, 2012). And such

a perception of quality forms a major source for customers to establish trust in the

brand page. For instance, the high quality of information provided by functional

value could lead customers to perceive the brand page as more trustworthy

because it is less likely to make inaccurate and false statements. In addition, when

customers perceive functional value in term of economic benefits from a brand

page, they may gain more confidence toward developing trust becuase the brand

page has the ability to create added value for them (Gummerus, et al., 2012).

Based on these evidences, we propose:

H1b. Functional value is positively related to ones brand page trust.

3.2.2.2.Social Value

Powel (2009) indicates that the social value, in term of interaction and

communication on brand pages, allows customers to increase their social ties with

other members, which could foster trust relationships between them. The study of

Ng (2013) confirmed that in the social networking community, social interactions

of social value contribute to the closeness and familiarity among users, which

further enhance users trust in the social networking community. Lin and Lu

60
(2011a) further reiterate that one way to gain trust in Facebook fan pages is to

provide a platform that allows customers to communicate and interact with each

other. Social presence is also considered a key feature of social value in brand

pages because the technology characteristics of SNS make users feel

psychologically present through close and frequent social contact (Chen, 2013;

Xu, et al., 2012). Gefen and Straub (2004) confirmed that social presence

significantly contributes to customers trust in e-commerce website because it

makes customers perceive a sense of personal sociable, and sensitive human

contact on the website. The social presence aspect of social value may also help

the improvement of customers trust in a brand page because it creates a sense of

human contact and reduces uncertainty in the community (Lancastre & Lages,

2006). Based on above observations, we propose:

H2b. Social value is positively related to ones brand page trust.

3.2.2.3.Emotional Value

Kim and Stoel (2004) show that when users feel happy and cheerful about a

website, they tend to trust that particular website more. Gummerus, et al. (2012)

indicated that the entertainment aspect of emotional value enhances users trust

and satisfaction with a Facebook brand community. In the context of brand pages,

the emotional value which derives from entertaining content could contribute to

customers happiness. These emotional feelings could enhance their positive

feelings toward that brand page. According to Pentina and Zhang (2013), positive

feelings of engagement would generate a positive attitude toward the trust

61
development in SNS. Zhang et al. (2013) also indicated that users trust in

enterprise Microblog may be derived from users positive feelings toward it.

Therefore it is reasonable to argue that customers positive feelings derived from

emotional value would contribute to their trust development on the brand page.

On the other hand, a high level of emotional value gathered from brand pages

would also encourage more frequent participating behaviors. Such frequent

participation would lead to a high level of social capital. Literature indicate that

mutual trusting relationships become more solid when there is a strong social

capital in an online community (Hsiao & Chiou, 2012). Based on above

observations, we propose:

H3b. Emotional value is positively related to ones brand page trust.

3.2.3. Effect of Brand Page Trust on Brand Page Commitment

The concept of trust is embedded in almost all business relationships, and it is

considered an important condition for relationship maintenance (Doney & Cannon,

1997). Morgan and Hunt (1994) propose the connection between trust and

commitment in business relationships. They claim that business partners commit

more to their business relationship when they trust each other. In online B-to-C

relationships, studies also confirmed the positive relationship between customers

trust and commitment (e.g., Eastlick, et al., 2006; Mukherjee & Nath, 2007). In

the SNS context, Westerlund et al. (2009) claim that a higher level of users

trusting a social networking community would lead to a higher level of both

cognitive and affective commitment in the community. Hsu et al. (2010) confirm

62
the relationship between trust and commitment in the Microblog context,

suggesting that strong trust could transform a very satisfied customer into a very

committed customer in an enterprises Microblog. We thus expect the same

condition in the brand page context and propose that a brand page which is

considered trustworthy would also elevate customers commitment. We thus

propose that:

H4. Brand page trust is positively related to ones brand page commitment.

3.2.4. Effects of Brand Page Commitment on Relationship Outcomes

3.2.4.1.Relationship Durability

The positive association between commitment and relationship durability is well

documented in different research contexts (e.g.,Friman, et al., 2002; Goo &

Huang, 2008; Morgan & Hunt, 1994). For example, Goo and Huang (2008)

confirm that commitment between business partners would positively contribute

to the relationship durability of their cooperate business relationships. Zhang et al.

(2013) reported that users commitment in SNS positively contributes to their

relationship durability with SNS (i.e., intention to continue using SNS). Nusair et

al. (2013) also confirm that if users have developed deep affective and cognitive

commitment in a SNS, they tend to be loyal to this SNS and continue using it. In

the context of brand pages, relationship durability refers to customers willingness

to keep following a brand page in the near future. It is suggested that fostering

brand page commitment could enhance customers willingness to continue

63
following a page because customers have developed an attachment to the brand

page (Gummerus, et al., 2012). In addition, a high level of commitment to a brand

page implies that the brand page offers a superior value to customers, which leads

to a lower possibility of customers to terminate their relationships (Kim, Choi, et

al., 2008). Based on above evidences, we propose:

H5a. Brand page commitment is positively related to ones relationship durability.

3.2.4.2.Electronic Word of Mouth Intention

Harrison-Walker (2001) indicates that if customers develop a high level of

commitment to a company, they are more likely to disseminate positive word of

mouth about it. Brown et al. (2007) conclude that this relationship also applies to

online communities. A high level of commitment to a brand page may induce a

high level of emotional or resource-based benefits. Such a commitment is likely to

drive customers to share the benefits with their connected friends (Yang, 2012).

Kim et al. (2008) also confirm that customers commitment in an online brand

community would positively contribute to their commitment in the brand, and

further enhances their intention to spread positive word of mouth about that brand.

As such, committed brand page customers are also expected to be more willing to

say good things about the brand to their connected friends (Brown, et al., 2007).

In addition, managers of brand pages often hold campaigns and activities on the

brand page in order to encourage customers to spread positive eWOM to their

friends in SNS. Studies show that such promotional activities work even better

with committed users because they have developed a higher level of engagement

64
in brand pages (Brodie, et al., 2013). Based on above observations, we propose:

H6a. Brand page commitment is positively related to ones eWOM intention.

3.2.4.3.Continued Interaction

Continued interaction in this study denotes the likelihood of customers continuing

to offer suggestions and comments, and also share information on a brand page.

Mukherjee and Nath (2007) find that customers intention to interact with online

vendors can be greatly enhanced if he or she feels committed to them and cares

about their further development. Bateman et al. (2011) confirm that, in an online

community, both users affective and cognitive commitment would positively

influence their intention to continue interacting and participating in the

community, such as posting information and replying to posts. Nambisan and

Baron (2007) suggest that customers who are committed to a an online brand

community are more willing to provide advices that support future product

development of a company. The study of Kim et al. (2008) also confirmed that,

when customers have developed commitment to an online brand community, they

would be more actively involved in coproduction activities with the company of

the brand community, such as suggest new ideas for product development and

provide opinions on product-related problems. Therefore we expect that the same

condition will hold for brand pages, that is, committed customers on a brand page

would be more willing to keep interacting by providing useful feedbacks to the

company of the brand page. Based on above evidences, we propose:

H7a. Brand page commitment is positively related to ones continued interaction.


65
3.2.4.4.Functional Conflict

Functional conflict refers to the successful settlement of disputes between the

company and customers, and it serves as a foundation for future conflict

settlement. SNS brand pages enable companies to get closer to their customers

and respond more quickly to customers dissatisfaction and complaints (de Vries,

et al., 2012). Loyal and committed customers are believed to have a deeper

perception that future conflicts will be functional ones that will improve their

relationship strength with companies. (Skarmeas, 2006). In other words,

committed customers would believe that any conflicts between them and the

company in the future can be successfully resolved toward mutual benefits (Cahill,

Goldsby, Knemeyer, & Wallenburg, 2010). Hur et al. (2011) find that if

customers have developed commitment in an online brand community, they are

more likely to present their complaints and disagreements to the company of the

brand community because they believe that resolving disagreements could

improve their relationships with the company. In the context of brand pages, a

high level of commitment indicates that customers are more willing to maintain

the same condition of the relationship (Zhang, Lee, et al., 2013). Therefore they

would have a more positive attitude toward resolving future conflicts. Thus, it is

reasonable to assume that customers who have developed a strong commitment to

a brand page will be more likely to work out future conflicts with the brand

harmoniously. Based on above observations, we propose:

H8a. Brand page commitment is positively related to ones functional conflict.

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3.2.5. Effects of Brand Page Trust on Relationship Outcomes

3.2.5.1.Relationship Durability

Trust is an essential element to build a long-lasting relationship in the online

environment (Westerlund, et al., 2009). Hsiao and Chiou (2012) suggest that

social trust in an online community helps to build social capital among users, and

it further impacts on the durability of their relationships with the online

community. Sledgianowski and Kulviwat (2009) stated that users who trust in a

SNS tend to believe in the SNSs ability to perform its fiduciary responsibilities,

and will thus remain loyal to this SNS. Zhang et al. (2013) also find that users

trust in a SNS is positively related to their loyalty and continuance intention. In

the brand page context, when customers trust the information posted on a brand

page, they are more willing to receive more information because they believe that

it is beneficial to them (Hajli & Khani, 2013). In such a manner,

information-based brand page trust may contribute to customers intention to

continue following a brand page. In addition, strong social ties will also be built

among customers is there if a high level of identification-based brand page trust

among users. Literature point out that strong social tie forms solid basis for

relationship durability (Hsiao & Chiou, 2012). Based on above observations, we

propose:

H5b. Brand page trust is positively related to ones relationship durability.

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3.2.5.2.Electronic Word of Mouth Intention

Brand page trust is based on customers trust in both information and the

behaviors of other users on the brand page. Brown et al. (2007) state that

credibility of information is an important foundation of ones eWOM intention in

an online community. Jansen et al. (2009) stated that many users use Twitter for

general information-seeking and information-sharing about brands or products. If

these users perceive the information posted in Twitter is trustworthy, they are

more willing to engage in eWOM transfers in order to provide relative

information to other users. Similarly, on the brand page, if customers have

developed brand page trust based on information trustworthiness, they are

expected to be more likely to spread positive eWOM about this brand to their

connected friends. On the other hand, literature confirmed that when users

established a high level of trust in other members in online community, they

would identify themselves as part of the community, and thus feel desired to

generate positive eWOM (Cheung & Lee, 2012). In a similar fashion, if customers

have developed brand page trust based on their identification with others on the

brand page, they would consider themselves as part of the brand page community.

As a result, they would feel obligated to spread positive eWOM about this brand.

Based on above evidences, we propose:

H6b. Brand page trust is positively related to ones eWOM intention.

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3.2.5.3.Continued Interaction

The brand page facilitates customers to conveniently interact with companies of

brand pages. Their suggestions and feedbacks through interactions are valuable

sources for the product development of companies. Studies suggest that if

customers trust a company, they tend to care more about the company and are

more willing to contribute to the development of the company (Pentina, Zhang, et

al., 2013). Similar relationships have been reported in the online community

context. According to Chang and Chuang (2011), trust in an online community

leads to the development of social capital, which would further strengthen users

willingness to contribute to the community. In brand community context,

Nambisan (2002) stated that, when designing virtual customer communities,

customer trust is an essential element for enhancing customers interaction

intention to contribute to companies new product development. Cvijikj and

Michahelles (2013b) also indicated that a high level of trust in a brand community

implies customers confidence about the brand, and thus stimulates them to keep

interacting and contributing to its development. The study of Pentina et al. (2013)

report that users trust in Twitter positively contributes to their supporting

behaviors for the brands that they have followed in Twitter. Such supporting

behaviors include providing feedbacks to the brand and recommending the brand

to others. Therefore, in the brand page context, we also expect that if customers

have developed trust in a brand page, their intention to continually interact with

the company of the brand page will also be greatly enhanced. Based on above

observations, we propose:

H7b. Brand page trust is positively related to ones continued interaction.


69
3.2.5.4.Functional Conflict

It is recognized that a deep level of trust leads customers to perceive that future

disagreements and conflicts with a company will be settled satisfactorily (Morgan

& Hunt, 1994). In business partner relationships, it is found that a high level of

trust between two trading parties positively contributes to their functional conflict

(i.e., harmoniously settlement of future conflicts) (Goo, Kishore, Rao, & Nam,

2009). The study of Nobel et al. (2012) indicates that, conflicts and negative

complaints are inevitable in online brand communities. However, if users have

developed trust in an online brand community, they tend to believe that the

company of the brand community will handle their conflicts and complaints

appropriately, and future conflicts will also be resolved satisfactorily. As Palvia

(2009) suggests, trust could make customers believe that the company cares about

its customers and is able to resolve future conflicts. In the brand page context, the

brand page platform enables companies to respond to customers enquiries and

complaints in a timely fashion. Customers could also observe how companies

reply to other customers complaints on the platform (Lee, et al., 2013). Therefore,

the settlement of conflicts between the company and other customers on the brand

page could also contribute to customers trust in the brand page (de Vries, et al.,

2012). Such a trust serves as a foundation for the future settlement of

disagreements. Based on these, we believe that if customers have developed trust

in a brand page, they tend to have more confidence that their future disagreements

with the company can be resolved harmoniously. Based on above evidences, we

propose:

H8b. Brand page trust is positively related to ones functional conflict.


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3.2.6. Control Variables

We included the following four control variables in this study. (1) Gender was

included because it has been reported as a significant influence on Internet usage

and social networking activities (Muscanell & Guadagno, 2012; Zhang, Lee,

Cheung, & Chen, 2009). Goh et al. (2013) suggest that gender should be

controlled for when investigating consumer behaviors in online brand

communities. In addition, gender differences have been identified in the process

of developing online commitment and trust (Sanchez-Franco, Ramos, & Velicia,

2009). (2) Age was controlled for because different age groups may exhibit

different attitudes toward the adoption of social media (StokburgerSauer, 2010).

Although users of SNS mainly comprise younger adults, the population of older

age groups has grown exponentially lately. Older individuals may not be as well

acquainted with SNS as younger individuals, and the former group might require

more efforts to develop their online trust (Pfeil, et al., 2009). (3) Brand page

tenure was included because the length of time that one follows a brand page will

be linked to the number of interactions generated over time, which forms a

foundation for commitment and trust. Johnson et al. (2006) also indicate that

ones commitment and trust may grow over time along with experience. (4)

Industry type was controlled for because the performance of brands may vary

depending upon the type of industry (i.e., manufacturing and non- manufacturing)

to which a brand page belongs (Michaelidou, et al., 2011).

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3.2.7. Summary of Hypotheses

This chapter presents our proposed research model which investigates both

relationship antecedents and outcomes of customer commitment and trust in the

brand page. Our research model includes three main model components:

relationship antecedents, relationship mediators, and relationship outcomes.

Consistent with CTT, brand page commitment and trust are conceptualized as

relationship mediators. For the model component of relationship antecedents, the

three customer values (i.e., functional value, social value, and emotional value)

are proposed to be positively related to both brand page commitment and trust.

The model constructs of functional value, social value, emotional value, brand

page trust, and brand page commitment are conceptualized as second-order

formative constructs consisting of their respective first-order constructs.

In this thesis, the model construct of functional value is measured with three

first-order constructs: information quality, product-related learning, and economic

benefit. The model construct of social value includes three first-order constructs:

interactivity, collaboration, and social presence. The model construct of emotional

value consists of two first-order constructs: entertainment and arousal. The model

construct of brand page trust contains two first-order constructs:

information-based trust and identification-based trust, while the model construct

of brand page commitment also includes two first-order constructs: affective

commitment and cognitive commitment. For the model component of relationship

outcomes, relationship durability, eWOM intention, continued interaction, and

functional conflict are proposed as the direct outcomes of brand page commitment

72
and trust. The proposed hypotheses grounded in the brand page context are

summarized in Table 3.1

Table 3.1 Summary of Hypotheses

H1a Functional value is positively related to ones brand page commitment.

H1b Functional value is positively related to ones brand page trust.

H2a Social value is positively related to ones brand page commitment.

H2b Social value is positively related to ones brand page trust.

H3a Emotional value is positively related to ones brand page commitment.

H3b Emotional value is positively related to ones brand page trust.

H4 Brand page trust is positively related to ones brand page commitment.

H5a Brand page commitment is positively related to ones relationship


durability.

H5b Brand page trust is positively related to ones relationship durability.

H6a Brand page commitment is positively related to ones eWOM intention.

H6b Brand page trust is positively related to ones eWOM intention.

H7a Brand page commitment is positively related to ones continued


interaction.

H7b Brand page trust is positively related to ones continued interaction.

H8a Brand page commitment is positively related to ones functional conflict.

H8b Brand page trust is positively related to ones functional conflict.

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3.3. Instrument Development

In this section, we describe the development of instruments that used for data

collection and research model analysis. This section includes two parts:

a) measurement items of the constructs in the research model; and

b) questionnaire design.

3.3.1. Measurement Items of the Constructs in the Research Model

We adopted measurement items from previous studies to measure the constructs

identified in this study. Items were carefully revised in terms of wordings to

ensure that they are relevant to the particular context of this research. After

developing the first version of measurement items, we invited several IS

professors and students who are familiar with brand page usage to examine the

language and wording of measurement items. We then modified some of the items

according to their comments. Table 3.2 lists the details of modified measurement

items applied in this thesis.

74
Table 3.2 Constructs and Measurement Items (1 of 3)

Constructs Questionnaire items Sources


Functional value (FV)
Information quality IQ1: I find the information on this brand page to (Mathwick,
(IQ) be valuable. Wiertz, & De
IQ2: I think this brand page is a valuable Ruyter, 2008)
information resource.
IQ3: There is unique information value on this
brand page.
Product-related PL1: Following this brand page enhances my (Nambisan &
learning (PL) knowledge of the product and its usage. Baron, 2010)
PL2: Following this brand page helps me to
obtain solutions to specific product-related
problems.
PL3: Following this brand page enhances my
knowledge about advances in the product,
related products, and technology.
Economic benefit EB1: Following this brand page helps me to get (Gummerus, et
(EB) bonuses. al., 2012)
EB2: Following this brand page helps me to
participate in lotteries.
EB3: Following this brand page helps me to get
better services.
EB4: Following this brand page helps me to get
fast responses.
Social value (SV)
Interactivity (INT) INT1: Other members are very responsive to my (Zhao & Lu,
posts on this brand page. 2012)
INT2: I can always count on getting a lot of
responses to my posts on this brand page
INT3: I can always count on getting responses to
my posts on this brand page fairly quickly.
Collaboration COL1: On this brand page, I can help other (Gummerus, et
(COL) users. al., 2012)
COL2: On this brand page, I can get help from
other users.
COL3: On this brand page, I can provide
information to other users.
COL4: On this brand page, I can share my ideas
with other users.
Social presence SP1: There is a sense of human contact on this (Chen, 2013)
(SP) brand page.
SP2: There is a sense of personalness on this
brand page.
SP3: There is a sense of human warmth on this
brand page.

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Table 3.2 Constructs and Measurement Items (2 of 3)

Constructs Questionnaire items Sources


Emotional value (EV)
Entertainment ENT1: I think this brand page is very entertaining. (Verhagen,
(ENT) ENT2: The content of this brand page is Feldberg,
eye-catching and picks me up. van den
ENT3: Following this brand page entertains me. Hooff,
Meents, &
Merikivi,
2011)
Arousal (ARO) ARO1: Conversations on this brand page make me (Gupta &
feel excited. Kim, 2007)
ARO2: Conversations on this brand page make me
feel stimulated
ARO3: Conversations on this brand page make me
feel aroused.
Brand page trust (BPT)
Information-based INBT1: I think that the information offered by this (Flavin,
trust (INBT) brand page is sincere. Guinalu, &
INBT2: I think that the information offered by this Gurrea,
brand page is honest. 2006)
INBT3: This brand page does not make false
statements.
INBT4: I think that the information offered by this
brand page is trustworthy.
Identification-based IDBT1: I can talk freely to the members of this (Hsu, et al.,
trust (IDBT) brand page about product-related issues. 2007)
IDBT2: If I share my problems with members on
this brand page, I know they will respond
constructively and caringly.
IDBT3: I know most members on this brand page
will do everything within their capacity to
help others.
IDBT4: I know most members on this brand page
are honest.
Brand page commitment (BPC)
Affective AC1: I feel like a part of the group on this brand (Bateman, et
commitment (AC) page. al., 2011)
AC2: I have a real emotional attachment to this
brand page.
AC3: I feel a strong sense of belonging to this
brand page.
AC4: I feel a strong connection to this brand page.
Cognitive CC1: I am sure that there are no other brand pages (Bateman, et
commitment (CC) where I could find the same content and al., 2011)
experience that I get on this one.
CC2: There are very few other places where I could
find the kind of useful content that I get from
this brand page.
CC3: The content of this brand page is too valuable
for me to stop following it.

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Table 3.2 Constructs and Measurement Items (3 of 3)

Constructs Questionnaire items Sources


Relationship RD1: I intend to continue being a follower of this (Liang, et al.,
durability (RD) brand rather than discontinue. 2011)
RD2: My intention is to continue following this
brand page.
RD3: If I can, I would like to continue being a
follower of this brand page.
Electronic word of eWOM1: I would like to introduce the company (Kim, Choi, et
mouth intention of this brand page to others on Microblog. al., 2008)
(eWOM) eWOM2: I would like to recommend the
company of this brand page to others on
Microblog.
eWOM3: I would like to say positive words
about the company of this brand page to
others on Microblog.
Continued CI1: I would like to suggest new ideas for (Kim, Choi, et
interaction (CI) product or service marketing plans to the al., 2008)
company of this brand page.
CI2: I would like to suggest my opinions of
product development to the company of
this brand page.
CI3: I would like to actively involve in
conversations with the company of this
brand page.
CI4: I would like to provide my opinion on
product-related problems and improvement
methods to the company this brand page.
Functional conflict FC1: Dissatisfactions between me and the (Goo &
(FC) company of this brand page are almost Huang, 2008)
always successfully resolved.
FC2: Dissatisfactions between me and the
company of this brand page are resolved to
our mutual satisfaction.
FC3: The discussions I have with the company of
this brand page on areas of disagreement
increase the effectiveness and strength of
our relationship.

3.3.1.1.Functional Value

Functional value of the brand page was conceptualized as a second-order

formative construct which is measured by three first-order constructs: information

77
quality, product-related learning, and economic benefit of the brand page.

Information quality was measured by three items adopted from the study of

Mathwick et al. (2008). These three items measure the extent to which the

information on the brand page is valuable. The four measurement items of

product-related learning were adopted from the study of Nambisan and Baron

(2010). They are suitable for this study because the original items were developed

in the online customer community context, which is in similar nature with our

current research context. These four items measure the extent to which brand page

enhances their product knowledge and helps them solve product-related problems.

We adopted the four items from Gummerus et al. (2012) to measure economic

benefit of the brand page. These original items measure customers economic

rewards of participating in the Facebook brand page and are used similar in nature

with the brand page in Microblog. In particular, these four items measure the

extent to which following the brand page helps customers get bonuses, participate

in lotteries, get better services, and obtain fast responses.

3.3.1.2.Social Value

Social value in this study was conceptualized as a second-order formative

construct which is measured by three first-order constructs: interactivity,

collaboration, and social presence. The three items for interactivity were adopted

from the study of Zhao and Lu (2012). They were originally applied in the

Microblog context to study the responsiveness of other users regarding messages

posted in SNS. Similarly, on the brand page, literature reveal that the responses to

each others messages posted are also considered as interactivity (Hutter, et al.,

78
2013). Collaboration was measured by four items adopted from the study of

Gummerus et al.s (2012). These four items measure the social enhancement of

social benefits that includes help others, get help from others, provide information

to others, and share ideas with others on the brand page. They best capture the

content of collaboration among users on the brand page. Social presence was

measured by three items adopted from the research of Chen (2013), which

investigates user behaviors in social networking sites. These three items measure

the sense of human contact, personalness, and human warmth on the brand page.

3.3.1.3.Emotional Value

Emotional value in this study is conceptualized as a second-order formative

construct which is measured by two first-order constructs: entertainment and

arousal. The three items of entertainment were adopted from the study of

Verhagen et al. (2011). They are originally used to capture the entertainment

value in the online virtual community. Adapted in this study, they measure the

extent to which the content of a brand page is entertaining and eye-catching.

Three items measuring arousal in online community in Gupta and Kims study

(2007) were adopted and modified in this study to measure customers perception

of arousal on the brand page. They measure the degree to which the content of a

brand page makes customers feel excited, stimulated, and aroused.

3.3.1.4.Brand Page Trust

The model construct of brand page trust is conceptualized as a second-order


79
formative construct which is measured by two first-order constructs:

information-based trust and identification-based trust. Information-based trust

captures the trustworthiness of information posted on the brand page, and it is

measured by four items adapted from the study of Flavian et al. (2006). These

four items measures the extent to which customers believe the information posted

on the brand page is sincere, honesty, without false statements, and trustworthy.

Identification-based trust captures customers trust in the brand page based on

their relationships and identity with other members. It is measured by four items

adopted from the study of Hsu et al. (2007). These four items evaluate customers

perception that they can talk freely with other members on the brand page, and

that other members are caring, integrity, and honest.

3.3.1.5.Brand Page Commitment

Brand page commitment is conceptualized as a second-order formative construct

which includes two first-order constructs: affective commitment and cognitive

commitment. Affective commitment was measured with four measurement items

adopted from the study of Bateman et al. (2011). The original items measured

users affective commitment in the online community. Adapted in this study, they

evaluate customers emotional attachment, connection, and sense of belonging

with the brand page. The three measurement items for cognitive commitment

were also adopted from Bateman et al.s (2011) study. They measure the

continuance and calculative aspects of cognitive commitment based on the brand

pages uniqueness and good value.

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3.3.1.6.Relationship Outcomes

Brand page relationship outcomes in this study include four constructs:

relationship durability, eWOM intention, continued interaction, and functional

conflict. Relationship durability is measured by three items adopted from the

study of Liang et al. (2011). These items originally measure users continuance

intention with SNS. Adapted in our study, they evaluate customers intention to

keep following a brand page. The measurement items for eWOM intention and

continued interaction were both adopted from Kim et al.s (2008) online brand

community study. Three items measuring eWOM assess customers intention to

introduce, recommend, and spread positive words about the company of this

brand page to their connected friends in Microblog. Four items measuring

continued interaction capture customers intention to suggest new ideas to,

provide opinions to, provide advices to, and actively involved in conversations

with, the company of the brand page. Functional conflict is measured by three

items modified from the study of Goo and Huang (2008). These items measure the

extent to which customers perceive that conflicts between them and companies

would be solved harmoniously, be solved towards mutual satisfaction, and be

solved to increase the effectiveness of current relationships.

3.3.2. Questionnaire Design

Our questionnaire was designed to include three sections. The first section

contains a screen question to ask whether the respondent is aware that he/she is a

follower of a selected brand page. If the answer is yes, then the participant is

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asked to continue with Sections 2 and 3; otherwise, he/she doesnt need to answer

the rest of the questionnaire. Section 2 contains 54 items that measure the

constructs in our study. The respondents were asked to evaluate the significance

of these measurement items using a five-point Likert scale, where a value of 5

represented strongly agree and a value of 1 represented strongly disagree.

Section 3 collects the demographic information of the respondents. The collected

information includes respondents gender, age, education, frequency and tenure of

using the Microblog, tenure of following the brand page, frequency of posing on

the brand page, and number of users the respondent have following in the

Microblog. Four factors are included as control variables in the proposed research

model: gender, age, brand page tenure, and industry type. Gender of the

respondent was measured by a dummy variable (1 - Female; 0 - Male). Age

of the participants was measured by a four-point scale (1 below 18; 2

between 18 and 28; 3 between 28 and 38; 4 above 38). The tenure of

following a brand page was measured by a four-point scale (1 - less than 6

months; 2 between 6 months to 1 year; 3 between 1 year to 1.5 years; 4

more than 1.5 years). The industry type to which the company of a brand page

belongs was coded as a dummy variable (1 manufacturing; 0

non-manufacturing). Appendix A shows our original questionnaire. Appendix B

shows the questionnaire that we used for online survey in which the items in

section 2 were scrambled in order to reduce participants perception of any direct

connections among those measurement items.

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3.4. Research Sampling and Data Collection Procedure

This part presents the respondents, questionnaire translation, sampling methods,

and data collection procedure of this study.

3.4.1. Potential Respondents and Questionnaire Translation

The potential respondents of this study were users who have followed at least

one brand page in a social networking site - Sina Microblog (www.weibo.com).

Sina Microblog is currently one of the most popular social networking sites in

China with over 250 million registered users, more than 50,000 enterprise

accounts, and over 90 million tweets published every day (Gu & Wang, 2012). In

Microblog, users can choose to follow one brand page of a company if he/she

feels interested in it. Once the users have followed a brand page, they will receive

information posted from that brand page onto their own Microblog homepage. In

addition, when they enter the brand page, they can check all posting histories of

that brand page, and they can leave messages and interact with the brand page

operator as well as with other followers. Brand page followers are conversant in

brand page features and their daily operations because they are the direct targets

of brand page marketing activities. Furthermore, their experience with a specific

brand page will generate perceptions and opinions toward the quality of the brand

page. Thus, it was reasonable to assume that these participants are familiar with

the practice of brand pages in the Microblog, and could understand the content of

our questionnaire and answer them accordingly.

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We assumed that the potential respondents in this study are Chinese, so we need to

translate the original English measurement items into a Chinese version in order

to facilitate respondents understanding. We followed the approach of Bhalla and

Lin (1987) to ensure validity of our questionnaire by using the back-translation

method. After the first round of translation, we invited several IS experts and

doctoral students who are also brand page followers to review our questionnaire.

We collected their feedbacks about the content validity and clarity of the

instructions, and then refined our questionnaire according to their suggestions.

3.4.2. Data Collection Procedure

In Sina Microblog, brand pages are clustered into 23 categories, such as

e-commerce, hotel and tourism, food and beverage, and so on. We selected our

respondents in the following manner. In each brand page category, we firstly

randomly selected five brand pages. We then randomly select 20 followers out of

each selected brand page to participate in our online survey. This selection process

guaranteed a wide diversity of brand pages and thus ensured that our study has a

wide generalizability (Lee & Baskerville, 2003). After choosing our potential

respondents, we send them messages through the Sina Microblog containing the

background of our research and the link to our online survey. Our online survey

was created using the online software called Qualtrics. Altogether, we sent out a

total of 2,300 online invitations. A prize draw was also offered to encourage a

higher response rate. In addition, a screening question was used in the online

survey to confirm that each respondent was aware that he/she is actually a

follower of the brand page. We clearly inform respondents about the objective of

84
this academic research and this survey study. Responses were also aware that their

personal information would be treated confidentially.

3.5. Statistical Analysis Methods

This section presents the statistical analysis methods of our proposed model. This

thesis follows a 2-step analytical procedure for data analysis by firstly assessing

the measurement model, and then the structural model (Tatham, Hair, Anderson,

& Black, 1998). The following contents execute these two procedural steps:

(a) measurement model assessment;

(b) validation of second-order constructs; and

(c) structural model assessment.

3.5.1. Measurement Model Assessment

The measurement model refers to the relationships between measurement items

(i.e. observed variables) and constructs (i.e. latent variables) (Igbaria, Zinatelli,

Cragg, & Cavaye, 1997). The purpose of assessing measurement model is to

ensure instrument quality. We follow the instructions of previous studies (Chin,

Gopal, & Salisbury, 1997; Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee, & Podsakoff, 2003) to

validate our measurement model by assessing the content validity, convergent

validity, discriminant validity, reliability, and common method bias of the

measurement model.

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3.5.1.1.Content validity

Content validity refers to the comprehensiveness of measurement items in

covering different aspects of a construct, i.e., adequacy in representing the

universe of the construct under study. It is established to ensure that the items

measuring a construct are correctly representing the meaning of that construct.

Content validity can be assessed through methods such as panel evaluation,

qualitative interview, and pilot test of the instrument (Tilden, Nelson, & May,

1990). In this study, we assess the content validity of the measurement items using

the following two steps. First, we evaluate the quality of measurement items based

on previous literature. Second, we invite a panel of IS experts to evaluate the

validity of measurement items.

3.5.1.2.Convergent validity

Convergent validity refers to all items measuring a construct actually load onto a

single construct (Campbell & Fiske, 1959). It was assessed based on the following

three values: factor loading, composite reliability, and average variance extracted

(AVE). To establish a good convergent validity, the factor loadings of all

measurement items should be greater than 0.7 (Chin, 1998b). Any measurement

item that has a factor loading below 0.7 will be dropped in order to maintain an

acceptable validity level for that construct. The composite reliability value of each

construct should be larger than 0.7 (Chin, 1998b) and that the AVE value of each

construct should be above 0.5 (Fornell & Larcker, 1981) in order to establish

adequate convergent validity.

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3.5.1.3.Discriminant validity

Discriminant validity refers to the verification of each proposed factor is intended

to measure a distinctive event (or activity) (Campbell & Fiske, 1959). It was then

assessed by examining whether the square root of the AVE for each construct was

larger than its correlation values with other factors (Chin, 1998b). The underlying

rationale is to ensure that a measurement item is better explained by its intended

construct than by other constructs. If the items of one construct have higher

correlations with each other than with items of other constructs, then adequate

discriminant validity is established with this construct. In other words, if the

square root of the AVE value of a construct is higher than its correlations with

other constructs, this construct is well differentiated with other constructs (Fornell

& Larcker, 1981).

3.5.1.4.Reliability

Reliability refers to the internal consistency of measurement items in each

construct. Reliability concerns the extent to which the results of our measurement

items are consistent and stable. High reliability indicates that the measurement

items are able to produce consistent results (Tatham, et al., 1998). We use the

widely adopted Cronbachs Alpha () test to assess the reliability of each

construct in this study. If the measurements of a construct demonstrate high

Conbachs value, it indicates that the construct has a high level of reliability and

its measurement items are highly homogeneous (Kerlinger & Lee, 1964). The

Conbachs value also shows the extent to which the measurement items of a

87
construct are correlated. To achieve an acceptable high level of reliability, the

Cronbachs value of a construct should be larger than 0.7 (Nunnally, Bernstein,

& Berge, 1967).

3.5.1.5.Common Method Bias

Common method bias (CMB) is a serious potential issue for the measurement

validity in a self-report study. When the data for independent and dependent

variables are all self-reported and collected from a single source, CMB may be a

concern in a study (Podsakoff & Organ, 1986). We followed several procedural

and statistical remedies suggested by Podsakoff et al. (2003) to minimize this

potential problem. First, we try to minimize the issue of CMB at the questionnaire

design and data collection stage. Second, after data was collected, we used

Harmans (1976) one-factor test to statistically test the severity of CMB. This

approach is one of the most widely adopted methods that deal with the issue of

CMB. Principal factor analysis with Varimax rotation was conducted using SPSS

to assess whether a single method factor explained a majority (i.e., >50%) of the

variance.

3.5.2. Validation of Second-order Constructs

In this study, we conceptualize the model constructs of functional value, social

value, emotional value, brand page trust, and brand page commitment as

second-order formative constructs. Each of them is measured by their respective

first-order constructs. This thesis adopted criteria suggested by previous studies


88
(e.g., MacKenzie, Podsakoff, & Podsakoff, 2011; Petter, Straub, & Rai, 2007;

Polites, Roberts, & Thatcher, 2011) to verify the validity of our proposed

second-order constructs. In this section, we describe the methods we used to

assess our second-order constructs through theoretical and statistical analyses.

3.5.2.1.Theoretical Analysis

For theoretical analysis, we firstly assess the construct validity of second-order

constructs by analyzing whether the first-order constructs capture the theoretical

definition of their respective second-order construct (Petter, et al., 2007). Second,

we evaluate the formative nature of second-order constructs by analyzing the

direction of causality between first-order constructs and their respective

second-order construct (MacKenzie, et al., 2011). If the first-order constructs of a

second-order construct are formative in nature, a change in these first-order

constructs will cause a change in the second-order construct, but not vice versa.

3.5.2.2.Statistical Analysis

We used statistical methods adopted from previous studies (Chin, 1998a;

Diamantopoulos & Winklhofer, 2001; Luo, Li, Zhang, & Shim, 2010; Wang,

2009) to assess our second-order formative constructs. The basic logic of this

testing procedure is composed of two major steps: (1) we conduct a model

comparison analysis by constructing an unidimensional and a multidimensional

model for each of our second-order constructs, and then test the dimensionality of

their constructs (i.e., whether they should be represented by a single factor or


89
multiple factors); and (2) if the constructs are formative in nature (i.e., represent

by multiple factors), then we evaluate the fitness of our original second-order

constructs based on the following three statistical tests : correlation, relationship

strengths, and VIF. The following procedure includes all these tests, and we

further explain them in below.

We execute the above two steps based on the following 5-step algorithm. We now

present this algorithm particularly for this thesis so that we can verify whether our

proposed first-order constructs are formative representations of their respective

second-order construct, and whether each second-order construct has adequate

model fit and predictive power. The first two steps are used to validate if the

first-order constructs can be used to measure the same aspect of a proposed

second-order construct (that is, consider all respective contracts of a second-order

construct as unidimensional and then treat all their measurement items as the

operationalized items of that second-order construct). We proceed to steps 3-4 if

this test is failed; otherwise, we stop and claim that our first-order constructs are

unidimensional only. Steps 3-4 are used to validate if our respective constructs of

a second-order construct are formative in nature and distinctly different from each

other (that is, consider respective constructs of a second-order construct as

multidimensional). If this test is passed then we execute step 5, which is to test the

validity and predictive power of our proposed second-order constructs.

Algorithm: (Testing of second-order formative constructs)

Step 1: Testing each proposed model construct as a form of unidimensional


representation.

a) For each proposed model construct, formulate a linear equation

90
model by considering the model as a factor as follows:
aXi + b = Y; i=1, 2, ,n
Where,
Xi is the ith proposed model construct, and its measurements
are a linear combination of all proposed operationalized items
of the constructs of this second-order construct as shown in
Table 3.1.
Y is a selected dependent variable.
n is the total number of proposed second-order constructs.

b) Conduct statistical tests outlined in section 3.5.1 (i.e., convergent


validity, discriminant validity, reliability) to assess the
measurement validity of each Xi in step (a).

Step 2: Stop, if we accept the result of Step 1 and conclude that each proposed
construct is a unidimensional representation; otherwise go to Step 3.

Step 3: Testing each proposed model construct as a form of multi-dimensional


representation. (We formulate our multi-dimensional representation
based on a formative format that matched with our proposed structural
model.)

a) For each proposed model construct, we consider their respective


constructs as multi-dimensional representation and formulate the
following equation:
aizi + b = Y
Where,
zi is a construct of each proposed second-order construct as
described in Table 3.1.
Y is a selected dependent variable.
b) Conduct similar statistical test as shown in step (1b).

Step 4: Go to step 5 if we accept that the constructs of each proposed model


construct are multi-dimensional and claim that these constructs are
formative representations of respective model construct; otherwise we
conclude that our proposed construct is an invalid one.

Step 5: Access the fitness of each proposed second-order construct.

a) For each second-order construct equation, we formulate the


following equation:
aK + b = Y
Where,
K is a proposed second-order construct and it is represented
by its respective first-order constructs.

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Y is a selected dependent variable

b) We test the validity of the model in (a) based on the following


tests:

1. Correction test. The objective of this test is to ensure that the


correlations between first-order constructs of a second-order
formative construct are low. A high correlation may indicate
that the constructs belong to the same set (Chin, 1998a). The
correlation values between all first-order constructs in each
proposed second-order construct should be lower than a value
of 0.8 (Pavlou & El Sawy, 2006).

2. Relationship strengths: we assess the relationship strength


between each proposed second-order construct and its
respective first-order constructs. To establish a valid format of
second-order formative constructs, the path coefficients of
first-order constructs on a respective second-order construct
should be significant (Luo, et al., 2010).

3. VIF test: we assess the possibility of multicollinearity for the


first-order constructs of each proposed second-order construct.
Multicollinearity refers the existence of high correlations
among the independent variables in a multiple linear regression
analysis (Kozak, 1997). We applied the variance inflation
factor (VIF) to assess the potential problem of multicollinearity.
In this test, a VIF value should be lower than 10 in order to
establish a validating of second-order formative constructs
(Diamantopoulos & Winklhofer, 2001).

3.5.3. Structural Model Assessment

This study adopted Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) for the analyzing the

structural model. SEM is a powerful second generation multivariate analysis

technique for examining causal models and evaluating the corresponding

measurement model simultaneously (Gefen, Straub, & Boudreau, 2000). It is a

statistical technique for specifying and estimating models of linear relationships

among variables using a combination of statistical data and qualitative causal

92
assumptions (MacCallum & Austin, 2000). Gathering a collection of statistical

techniques, SEM enables studies to examine a set of relationships between

dependent variables and independent variables, and at the same time it is able to

assess measurement items of significant variables. SEM is superior than

traditional factor analysis and regression analysis because the measurement model

is assessed within the context of the theoretical structural model (Liang & Huang,

1998).

In this study, the component-based SEM technique - Partial Least Squares (PLS)

was used to assess the measurement and structural models. PLS has been

adopted widely for data analysis by studies in difference disciplines such as

information systems (Song, Kim, Jones, Baker, & Chin, 2014; Zhang, et al., 2009),

marketing (Grace & O'Cass, 2004; Johnson, et al., 2006; Unal & Donthu, 2014),

and management (Basu, 2014; Bontis, Booker, & Serenko, 2007). Along with the

increasing popularity of PLS for statistical analysis, there have been some

arguments on the limitations of PLS. For example, the study of Rnkk and

Evermann (2013) pointed out that PLS does not have a test of overall model fit

(p. 443). In addition, Rouse and Corbitt (2008) claimed that, for studies with small

samples, PLS is likely to discount relationships that would show up with larger

samples and more accurate statistical tools (p. 849). Regarding previous

criticisms on PLS, some recent studies have also pointed out that most arguments

of PLS-SEM critics were wrong (Sarstedt, Ringle, Henseler, & Hair, 2014, p.

167), and that PLS actually has certain advantages over covariance-based SEM

(e.g., Lisrel) such as it is robust and exhibits relatively higher statistical power

(Sarstedt, Ringle, & Hair, 2014, p. 133) with small sample sizes. Moreover, Hair

93
et al. (2011) concluded that if PLS is appropriately applied, it is indeed a silver

bullet for estimating relationships in many theoretical models and empirical data

situations.

Based on literature, PLS is considered as appropriate and advantageous for our

study for the following major reasons. First, according to the Rules of Thumb for

Selecting CB-SEM (covariance-based SEM) or PLS-SEM (Hair, et al., 2011, p.

144), PLS is advantageous for the structural model which involved with formative

constructs. Our research model has five formative constructs (i.e., functional value,

social value, emotional value, brand page commitment, and brand page trust).

Second, PLS has its advantageous feature of analyzing complex models which

involved with many constructs (Sarstedt, Ringle, Henseler, et al., 2014). Our

structural model includes a large set of relationships among model constructs.

Third, PLS makes minimal demands on normal distribution and works with

nominal, ordinal, and interval scaled variables (Chin, 1998b). This also fits the

scale of our model constructs. Therefore, the above advantageous features of PLS

indicate that it is the best suitable technique for data analysis in our study.

The software package SmartPLS 2.0 was used to perform our data analysis. We

conducted the data analysis of SEM in two phases by following to the instructions

of Tatham et al. (1998). In phase one, the measurement model was assessed in

terms of reliability, convergent validity, and discriminant validity. In phase two,

the structural model was assessed through the examination of our proposed

relationships between the independent and dependent variables. We investigate

the significance of direct relationships among constructs as well as the indirect

relationships (i.e., mediating relationships) among constructs. These two tests are
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now explained in below.

3.5.3.1.Direct Relationships

We employed the sequential latent variable score method (Becker, Klein, &

Wetzels, 2012) to approximate second-order constructs in PLS. This method is

suitable for our study since the first-order constructs have unequal number of

measurement items (range from two to four) (Luo, et al., 2010). The significance

of standardized path coefficient values are used to determine whether the findings

support our proposed hypotheses or not. Both the measurement model and the

structural model are examined to ensure that the results of this study are

acceptable and consistent with the underlying conceptual model.

3.5.3.2.Indirect Relationships

To test the mediation effects of commitment and trust between customer values

and relationship outcomes, we followed the testing procedure recommended by

Preacher and Hayes (2008) which computes the Sobel test (Sobel, 1982) to assess

the signicance of the mediation effects. Preacher and Hayes (2008) suggest that

mediational analysis be based on formal signicance tests of the indirect effect.

Their approach is more powerful than the procedural mediation-test proposed by

Baron and Kenny (1986) because the formal one allows a more direct test of the

statistical signicance of the indirect effect.

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In this test, we only consider constructs related to significant paths from the direct

relationship results as shown in Section 3.5.3.1. We have three sets of model

constructs. We treated functional value, social value, and emotional value as

independent variables, brand page commitment and brand page trust as presumed

mediators, and relationship outcomes (i.e., relationship durability, eWOM

intention, continued interaction, and functional conflict) as dependent variables

(DV). We then computed the Sobel-z scores of each mediating path (Sobel, 1982).

The significance of Sobel-z values are used to evaluate the significance of

mediating paths. For each significant mediating path, if the effect of the

independent variable on the dependent variable is significant in the control of the

mediator, then the respective mediator plays a partial mediating role between the

independent and dependent variables; otherwise, it plays a full mediating role.

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CHAPTER 4 SAMPLING PROFILES

This chapter presents the sampling profiles of our participants. It includes the

following sections:

a) Demographic Information of Respondents; and

b) Mean Scores and Standard Deviations of Constructs.

4.1. Demographic Information of Respondents

During the two-month period of data collection, 492 users participated in our

survey, giving a response rate of 21%. After discarding questionnaires with

incomplete information, 375 usable questionnaires were included in the analysis.

Table 4.1 presents the detailed demographic data of the respondents. Of the 375

respondents, 61.9% were female and 38.1% male. A majority (75.2%) were aged

18-28 and 61.3% held a bachelors degree or above. Most of the respondents

(47.5%) use the Microblog 6-7 days a week. A majority of the respondents (68%)

follow the brand page for more than six months. 58.3% of the respondents post

messages on the brand page at least one time per week on average. Moreover,

58.9% of the respondents follow 5-15 brand pages, while 5.6% follow more than

15 brand pages in the Microblog. We further examined our sample

representativeness by comparing our respondent demographics with the one

published in the User Development Report of Sina Microblog in 2013 (Sina,

2013). According to that report, a majority (53%) of their users are aged below 23,

97
and 70.8% of the users hold a bachelors degree or above. In this respect, our

sampling is basically aligned with their user profile. To further validate the

representativeness of our sample, we assessed the potential problem of

non-response bias. We divided our sample into two groups, that is, early (N=247)

and late (N=128) samples. We performed T-test to compare the demographic

attributes of these two samples, including gender, age, educational level,

frequency of using Microblog, and number of followed brand pages. The results

show that none of these attributes show significant differences at the 0.05 level.

Therefore, we concluded that there is no systematic non-response bias for our

responding sample.

Table 4.1 Demographic Information of Respondents

Category Frequency (Percentage)


Gender Female 232 (61.9%)
Male 143 (38.1%)
Age <18 5 (1.3%)
18-28 282 (75.2%)
28-38 65 (17.3%)
>38 23 (6.1%)
Education Level Secondary and high school 23 (6.1%)
Diploma or relative course 75 (20.0%)
Bachelors degree 230 (61.3%)
Masters degree or above 47 (12.5%)
Days using Microblog 0-1 day 69 (18.4%)
per week 2-3 days 60 (16.0%)
4-5 days 68 (18.1%)
6-7 days 178 (47.5%)
Tenure of following the < 6 M 120 (32.0%)
brand page 6M-1Y 168 (44.8%)
1 Y 1.5 Y 78 (20.8%)
> 1.5 Y 9 (2.4%)
Frequency of posting Never 79 (21.1%)
on the brand page About 1 time per month 77 (20.5%)
About 1 time per week 122 (32.5%)
2-6 times per week 69 (18.4%)
About 1 time per day 20 (5.3%)
Sever times per day 8 (2.1%)
Number of following <5 133 (35.5%)
brand pages 5-10 137 (36.5%)
10-15 84 (22.4%)
>15 21 (5.6%)
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4.2. Mean Scores and Standard Deviations of Constructs

Table 4.2 shows the mean scores and standard deviations of our constructs with

their respective measurement items. As shown in the table, most of the mean

scores are greater than 3. The mean values for measurement items EB1, INT1,

ARO3, and AC2-4 are slightly below 3. The construct of INBT has the highest

mean value of 3.77, while the construct of AC has the lowest mean value of

2.92. For standard deviations, the construct of CC has the highest value of 1.07,

while the construct of PL has the lowest value of 0.77.

Table 4.2 Mean Scores and Standard Deviations of Constructs (1 of 2)

Constructs and Scale Items Mean scores Standard deviations


Information quality (IQ)* 3.66 0.86
IQ1 3.61 0.83
IQ2 3.73 0.82
IQ3 3.64 0.93
Product-related learning (PL)* 3.58 0.77
PL1 3.63 0.78
PL2 3.45 0.78
PL3 3.65 0.75
Economic benefit (EB)* 3.08 1.04
EB1 2.81 1.03
EB2 3.00 1.13
EB3 3.18 0.95
EB4 3.31 0.96
Interactivity (INT)* 3.12 1.01
INT1 2.78 0.96
INT2 3.14 0.95
INT3 3.43 1.00
Collaboration (COL)* 3.37 0.85
COL1 3.08 0.87
COL2 3.39 0.81
COL3 3.37 0.86
COL4 3.65 0.75
Social presence (SP)* 3.26 1.01
SP1 3.41 1.00
SP2 3.13 0.93
SP3 3.25 1.08

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Table 4.2 Mean Scores and Standard Deviations of Constructs (2 of 2)

Constructs and Scale Items Mean scores Standard deviations


Entertainment (ENT) 3.49 0.93
ENT1 3.45 0.89
ENT2 3.60 0.93
ENT3 3.41 0.96
Arousal (ARO) 3.02 0.89
ARO1 3.00 0.86
ARO2 3.11 0.88
ARO3 2.96 0.91
Information-based trust (INBT) 3.77 0.85
INBT1 3.89 0.81
INBT2 3.86 0.80
INBT3 3.53 0.95
INBT4 3.79 0.79
Identification-based trust (IDBT) 3.48 0.92
IDBT1 3.73 0.90
IDBT2 3.35 0.89
IDBT3 3.31 0.87
IDBT4 3.51 0.97
Affective commitment (AC) 2.92 0.93
AC1 3.01 0.93
AC2 2.83 0.94
AC3 2.91 0.91
AC4 2.95 0.93
Cognitive commitment (CC) 3.09 1.07
CC1 3.06 1.09
CC2 3.02 1.11
CC3 3.19 0.99
Relationship durability (RD) 3.62 0.83
RD1 3.71 0.80
RD2 3.44 0.86
RD3 3.73 0.78
Electronic word of mouth (eWOM) 3.73 0.84
eWOM1 3.79 0.84
eWOM 2 3.77 0.81
eWOM3 3.62 0.86
Continued interaction (CI) 3.51 0.87
CI1 3.44 0.84
CI2 3.48 0.86
CI3 3.52 0.85
CI4 3.60 0.90
Functional conflict (FC) 3.31 0.87
FC1 3.20 0.92
FC2 3.30 0.84
FC3 3.42 0.85

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CHAPTER 5 RESULTS

This chapter describes the results of validation of measurement model, and the

analysis of our structural model. This chapter consists of the following three

sections:

a) Measurement Model Assessment;

b) Validation of Second-order Constructs; and

c) Structural Model Assessment.

5.1 Measurement Model Assessment

This section reveals the results of content validity, reliability, convergent validity,

discriminant validity, and common method bias tests as described in Section 3.5.1.

5.1.1 Content Validity

We consider the content validity of our measurement model as an adequate one

for the following reasons. First, the contents of our measurement items were

carefully constructed based on previous studies. We conducted literature review to

select appropriate measurement items which were prudently examined by

previous studies. Therefore, the measurement items are of high quality in correctly

representing the meaning of respective constructs. Second, we have invited IS

experts and doctoral students who are familiar with the research context of this

101
study to carefully verify our measurement items. Their valuable comments

contributed to the refinement of our measurement items. In this way, we conclude

that the contents of our measurement items are of great clarity and validity.

5.1.2 Convergent Validity

We assessed the convergent validity of our constructs using the three criteria as

described in Section 3.5.1.2: factor loading, composite reliability (CR), and

average variance extracted (AVE) value. Table 5.1 presents these results. In this

table, we removed four items (i.e., PL3, ARO2, IDBT4, and RD3) because their

factor loadings are below a value of 0.7. In the end, all factor loadings of

measurement items in a construct are above the value of 0.7, with the highest

value of 0.95 and the lowest value of 0.75. The CR values are all greater than 0.7,

with the highest value of 0.95 (i.e., both of ARO and eWOM) and the lowest

value of 0.86 (i.e., both of EB and INT). The AVE values of all constructs are

well above 0.5, with the highest value of 0.90 (i.e., ARO) and the lowest value of

0.61 (i.e., EB). Based on the results, we conclude that all of our proposed

constructs demonstrate an adequate convergent validity.

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Table 5.1 Results of Convergent Validity Analysis

Average
Factor Composite
Measures Items Variance
Loading Reliability
Extracted
IQ1 0.89
Information quality (IQ) IQ2 0.82 0.92 0.73
IQ3 0.85
Product-related learning PL1 0.88
0.89 0.80
(PL)* PL2 0.91
EB1 0.79
EB2 0.81
Economic benefit (EB) 0.86 0.61
EB3 0.75
EB4 0.77
INT1 0.79
Interactivity (INT) INT2 0.89 0.86 0.67
INT3 0.77
COL1 0.81
COL2 0.84
Collaboration (COL) 0.89 0.67
COL3 0.83
COL4 0.79
SP1 0.90
Social presence (SP) SP2 0.89 0.93 0.81
SP3 0.93
ENT1 0.88
Entertainment (ENT) ENT2 0.92 0.93 0.82
ENT3 0.91
ARO1 0.95
Arousal (ARO)* 0.95 0.90
ARO3 0.95
INBT1 0.87
Information-based trust INBT2 0.89
0.93 0.81
(INBT) INBT3 0.87
INBT4 0.90
IDBT1 0.85
Identification-based trust
IDBT2 0.86 0.89 0.72
(IDBT)*
IDBT3 0.84
AC1 0.88
Affective commitment AC2 0.93
0.95 0.81
(AC) AC3 0.87
AC4 0.93
CC1 0.88
Cognitive commitment
CC2 0.92 0.91 0.78
(CC)
CC3 0.84
Relationship duration RD1 0.89
0.90 0.82
(RD)* RD2 0.93
eWOM1 0.92
Electronic word of mouth
eWOM2 0.94 0.95 0.87
intention (eWOM)
eWOM3 0.93
CI1 0.91
CI2 0.91
Continued interaction (CI) 0.92 0.80
CI3 0.83
CI4 0.89
FC1 0.92
Functional conflict (FC) FC2 0.93 0.94 0.84
FC3 0.90
Note: * PL3, ARO2, IDBT4, and RD3 were deleted for a low factor loading
(<0.7).
103
5.1.3. Discriminant Validity

We assessed the discriminant validity of each construct by following the criteria

described in Section 3.5.1.3; that is, whether the square root of the AVE for each

construct is larger than its correlation values with other constructs. Table 5.2

shows the results of this analysis. In this table, the square root of the AVE for

each construct is presented in the diagonal entries. The square root of AVE values

range from 0.78 to 0.95. All constructs displayed adequate discriminant validity

since the square root of the AVE for each construct (i.e., the diagonal entry of

each column) is greater than its correlations with other constructs. Therefore, our

constructs show adequate discriminant validity.

Since some correlation values were higher than 0.6 criteria, multicollinearity may

be a concern in this study. We further assessed the potential problem of

multicollinearity using the Variance Inflation Factor (VIF) test. A VIF value above

10 would indicate multicollinearity problem (Diamantopoulos & Winklhofer,

2001). Our statistical results showed that the VIF values for all constructs ranged

from 1.36 to 2.75, thus indicating that multicollinearity was not a serious concern

in this study. Therefore, the measurement model was considered as satisfactory

with adequate validity and reliability, and that our model is ready for structural

model analysis.

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Table 5.2 Results of Discriminant Validity Analysis

INB IDB eWO


IQ PL EB INT COL SP ENT ARO AC CC RD CI FC
T T M
IQ .85
PL .27 .89
EB .33 .36 .78
INT .39 .17 .42 .82
COL .35 .32 .43 .40 .82
SP .59 .30 .47 .41 .44 .91
ENT .62 .20 .32 .42 .34 .65 .91
ARO .55 .24 .47 .47 .39 .67 .47 .95
INBT .51 .14 .34 .32 .29 .48 .55 .45 .90
IDBT .45 .22 .46 .42 .42 .55 .45 .56 .55 .85
AC .55 .25 .42 .38 .40 .65 .56 .63 .57 .60 .90
CC .59 .19 .36 .48 .36 .57 .58 .57 .56 .61 .57 .88
RD .53 .33 .37 .37 .38 .54 .50 .49 .59 .49 .58 .64 .91
eWOM .60 .32 .36 .37 .45 .54 .54 .50 .60 .56 .58 .61 .75 .93
CI .45 .24 .36 .30 .44 .43 .46 .43 .46 .51 .57 .52 .59 .65 .89
FC .53 .19 .44 .41 .42 .57 .49 .51 .59 .64 .62 .63 .69 .67 .61 .92
Note: Diagonal elements are the square root of AVE for each construct and the off-diagonal elements are the correlations between

constructs.

105
5.1.4. Reliability

As explained in Section 3.5.1.4, this thesis adopted the Cronbachs alpha () test

to assess the reliability of our constructs. Table 5.3 shows the Cronbachs values

of all of our proposed constructs in this study. In this table, the Cronbachs

values of all constructs ranged from 0.76-0.92, which all were above the threshold

value of 0.7. The construct of eWOM has the highest Cronbachs value of 0.92,

while the construct of INT has the lowest Cronbachs value of 0.76. Therefore,

we conclude that all of our proposed constructs demonstrate good reliability

(Nunnally, et al., 1967).

Table 5.3 Results of Reliability Test

Cronbachs
Construct Measurement Items

Information quality (IQ) IQ1, IQ2, IQ3 0.84
Product-related learning (PL) PL1, PL2 0.76
Economic benefit (EB) EB1, EB2, EB3, EB4 0.79
Interactivity (INT) INT1, INT2, INT3 0.76
Collaboration (COL) COL1, COL2, COL3, COL4 0.84
Social presence (SP) SP1, SP2, SP3 0.89
Entertainment (ENT) ENT1, ENT2, ENT3 0.89
Arousal (ARO) ARO1, ARO3 0.89
INBT1, INBT2, INBT3,
Information-based trust (INBT) 0.90
INBT4
Identification-based
IDBT1, IDBT2, IDBT3 0.81
trust(IDBT)
Affective commitment (AC) AC1, AC2, AC3, AC4 0.92
Cognitive commitment (CC) CC1, CC2, CC3 0.86
Relationship durability (RD) RD1, RD2, 0.79
Electronic word of mouth
eWOM1, eWOM2, eWOM3 0.92
intention (eWOM)
Continued interaction (CI) CI1, CI2, CI3, CI4 0.91
Functional conflict (FC) FC1, FC2, FC3 0.91

106
5.1.5. Common Method Bias

We assessed common method bias (CMB) as described in Section 3.5.1.5. First, at

the stage of questionnaire design and data collection, we placed measurement

items of related constructs in different sections of the survey so that it would

reduce the possibility that participant could see the direct connection between

these measurements. In addition, we assure the anonymity and confidentiality of

our participant in the survey so that it minimizes the problem of social desirability.

Second, we conducted Harmans (1976) one-factor test to verify the severity of

CMB for data we collected. Our results revealed that more than one factor has an

eigenvalue above 1; with the first factor accounted for 33.56% of the total

variance. Therefore, CMB is unlikely to be a serious concern in this study.

5.2. Validation of Second-order Constructs

In this study, we proposed the following model constructs are conceptualized as

second-order formative constructs: functional value, social value, emotional value,

brand page trust, and brand page commitment. We now verify them as described

in Section 3.5.2 and execute them as follows:

a) theoretical analysis; and

b) statistical analysis.

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5.2.1. Theoretical Analysis

First, from a conceptual point of view, we carefully identified our constructs of

each second-order construct through an extensive literature review of previous

studies as shown in Table 2.6 in Chapter 2. Therefore, it is sensible to conclude

that our constructs are good representations of the contents for their respective

second-order constructs. In addition, the conceptual meaning of our first-order

constructs are clearly unique, distinguishable, and not interchangeable. Our

first-order constructs are measuring different aspects of their respective

second-order construct. For example, in referring to the functional value as shown

in Table 2.6, each of first-order constructs (i.e., Information quality,

product-related learning, and economic benefit) is measured something unique,

distinguishable, and not interchangeable to one another. A change in one construct

is not necessarily associated with changes in the other constructs. This

phenomenon also applies to others of our proposed second-order constructs such

as social value, emotional value, brand page trust, and brand page commitment.

Therefore, our second-order constructs are clearly represented in a formative

nature with their respective first-order constructs.

Second, the direction of causality of each of our second-order construct derives

from its first-order constructs. For example, in our study, functional value derives

from constructs of information quality, product-related learning, and economic

benefit. Each of these constructs contributes to a different dimension that

describes functional value. For example, an increase in economic benefit of a

brand page will contribute to an increase in perceived overall functional value in

108
that brand page (Lu & Hsiao, 2010; Sweeney & Soutar, 2001). This phenomenon

also applies to others of our second-order constructs such as social value,

emotional value, brand page trust, and brand page commitment. Therefore, we

conclude that all proposed second-order constructs are well represented in a

formative representation together with their first-order constructs.

5.2.2. Statistical Analysis

In this section, we validated our second-order constructs as formative models by

using an algorithm as described in Section 3.5.2.2.

Algorithm:

Step 1: We selected eWOM as our dependent variable.

a) We have five model constructs: functional value, social value, emotional


value, brand page trust, and brand page commitment. Therefore, we
constructed five unidimensional models as shown in Figure 5.1.

109
IQ1
IQ2
IQ3
PL1 Functional
PL2 eWOM
value
EB1
EB2
EB3
EB4 Model 1: The Unidimensional Model for Functional Value

INT1
INT2
INT3
COL1
COL2 Social
eWOM
COL3 value
COL4
SP1
SP2
Model 2: The Unidimensional Model for Social Value
SP3

ENT1
ENT2
Emotional
ENT3 eWOM
ARO1 value
ARO3
Model 3: The Unidimensional Model for Emotional Value

INBT1
INBT2
INBT3 Brand page eWOM
INBT4 trust
IDBT1
IDBT2
IDBT3
Model 4: The Unidimensional Model for Brand Page Trust

AC1
AC2
AC3 Brand page
AC4 eWOM
commitment
CC1
CC2
CC3 Model 5: The Unidimensional Model for Brand Page Commitment

Figure 5.1 Unidimensional Models of Model Constructs

110
b) Table 5.4 reveals the statistical tests as described in Section 3.5.1. We
interpret these results in Step 2 below.

Table 5.4 Results of Unidimensional Models for Model Constructs

Factor Composite Cronbachs


Construct/ Item T statistics AVE
loading reliability
Functional value 0.39 0.85 0.80
IQ1 0.79 27.92
IQ2 0.73 21.28
IQ3 0.69 19.09
PL1 0.47 8.73
PL2 0.57 12.84
EB1 0.51 7.30
EB2 0.53 8.27
EB3 0.60 13.55
EB4 0.63 14.19
R2 of eWOM: 0.37
Social value 0.48 0.90 0.88
INT1 0.70 22.91
INT2 0.59 13.00
INT3 0.48 9.39
COL1 0.73 26.51
COL2 0.73 28.10
COL3 0.65 15.28
COL4 0.66 19.24
SP1 0.81 40.34
SP2 0.77 29.13
SP3 0.78 33.81
R2 of eWOM: 0.33
Emotional value 0.52 0.93 0.90
ENT1 0.71 26.33
ENT2 0.79 40.43
ENT3 0.77 39.71
ARO1 0.65 20.28
ARO3 0.62 15.74
R2 of eWOM: 0.33
Brand page trust 0.59 0.91 0.88
INBT1 0.83 43.70
INBT2 0.81 41.44
INBT3 0.81 42.22
INBT4 0.84 53.29
IDBT1 0.74 25.76
IDBT2 0.67 20.48
IDBT3 0.67 22.41
R2 of eWOM: 0.45
Brand page 0.57 0.83 0.92
commitment 0.72 43.25
AC1 0.78 55.29
AC2 0.70 39.22
AC3 0.78 53.17
AC4 0.64 22.98
CC1 0.72 38.16
CC2 0.69 30.22
CC3
R2 of eWOM: 0.42

111
Step 2: Interpretation of results in step 1.

In Table 5.4, all constructs demonstrate good reliability since all composite
reliability values are above 0.7 and all Cronbachs values are above 0.7.
However, these constructs reveal a poor convergent validity. In particular,
the following measurement items have factor loadings below a value of 0.7:
(1) seven items of functional value (i.e., IQ3, PL1, PL2, EB1, EB2, EB3,
EB4), (2) four items of social value (i.e., INT2, INT3, COL3, COL4), (3)
two items of emotional value (i.e., ARO1, ARO3), (4) two items of brand
page trust (i.e., IDBT2, IDBT3), and (5) two items of brand page
commitment (i.e., CC1, CC3). Also, the AVE values of functional value
and social value are both below 0.5, indicating that less than 50% of
variance in these two constructs can only be explained by their
measurements. The above collective results concluded that the
unidimensional representation fails to represent our constructs. Therefore,
we proceeded to step 3 for testing the multidimensional representation of
each construct.

Step 3: We selected eWOM as our dependent variable

a) We formulated our multi-dimensional models by considering constructs


of functional value, social value, emotional value, brand page trust, and
brand page commitment as revealed in Figure 3.1. Figure 5.2 reveals all 5
sets of multidimensional models.

b) Table 5.5 reveals the statistical tests as described in Step (1b). We


interpret these results in Step 4 below.

Step 4: We now interpret the results in step 3.

All factor loadings in Table 5.5 are greater than 0.7 (range from 0.95 to
0.74), indicating a high level of convergent validity. All composite
reliability values (range from 0.85 to 0.95) and Cronbachs values (range
from 0.76 to 0.92) are above 0.7, which indicate high reliability. In
addition, the AVE values of all constructs are all above 0.5, and the square
roots of AVEs are greater than their inter-construct correlations,
supporting discriminant validity of all measurements. The correlations
among factors of each group are relatively low (range from 0.28 to 0.57),
further indicating that these factors are distinct from each other (Wang,
2009). Moreover, the R2 values of the dependent variable (i.e., eWOM) in
multidimensional models have improved as compared with those in
unidimensional models. The collective results verify that all of our model
constructs are better represented in multi-dimensional representations (i.e.,
second-order formative forms) with their respective constructs serving as
their first-order measures. Therefore, we proceed to Step 5 for testing the
model fit of each proposed second-order formative constructs.

112
IQ1
Information
IQ2 quality
IQ3
PL1
Product- related
PL2 eWOM
learning
EB1
EB2
EB3 Economic benefit
EB4
Model 6: Multidimensional Model for Functional Value

INT1
INT2
INT3 Interactivity
COL1
COL2
Collaboration eWOM
COL3
COL4
SP1
Social presence
SP2
SP3
Model 7: Multidimensional Model for Social Value

ENT1
ENT2 Entertainment
ENT3
eWOM
ARO1
Arousal
ARO3

Model 8: Multidimensional Model for Emotional value

INBT1
INBT2
Information-based
INBT3 trust
INBT4 eWOM
IDBT1
Identification-based
IDBT2 trust
IDBT3
Model 9: Multidimensional Model for Brand Page Trust
AC1
AC2 Affective
AC3 commitment
AC4 eWOM
CC1
Cognitive
CC2 commitment
CC3
Model 10: Multidimensional Model for Brand Page Commitment

Figure 5.2 Multidimensional Models of Model Constructs


113
Table 5.5 Results of Multidimensional Models for Model Constructs

Factor T Composite
Construct Item AVE
loading statistics reliability
Functional Information quality 0.76 0.90 0.84
IQ1 0.91 88.38
value IQ2 0.86 54.16
IQ3 0.84 45.11
(R2 of eWOM: Product-related learning 0.80 0.89 0.76
0.38) PL1 0.84 25.08
PL2 0.94 61.36
Economic benefit 0.60 0.86 0.79
EB1 0.75 14.61
EB2 0.77 16.78
EB3 0.79 22.04
EB4 0.80 24.84
Correlations: IQ PL EB
IQ 0.87
PL 0.28 0.89
EB 0.34 0.38 0.77
Social value Interactivity 0.66 0.85 0.76
INT1 0.84 28.71
(R2 of eWOM: INT2 0.86 31.22
INT3 0.74 17.74
0.34)
Collaboration 0.67 0.89 0.84
COL1 0.82 38.22
COL2 0.86 47.54
COL3 0.81 32.35
COL4 0.80 31.79
Social presence 0.82 0.93 0.89
SP1 0.89 72.31
SP2 0.89 66.40
SP3 0.93 119.48
Correlations: INT COL SP
INT 0.81
COL 0.41 0.82
SP 0.42 0.44 0.91
Emotional Entertainment 0.82 0.93 0.89
ENT1 0.87 52.86
value ENT2 0.94 156.04
ENT3 0.91 78.82
(R2 of eWOM: Arousal 0.90 0.95 0.89
0.33) ARO1 0.95 162.08
ARO3 0.95 120.99
Correlations: ENT ARO
ENT 0.91
ARO 0.47 0.95
Brand page Information-based trust 0.78 0.93 0.90
INBT1 0.88 63.95
trust INBT2 0.90 79.05
INBT3 0.86 53.39
(R2 of eWOM: INBT4 0.89 60.74
0.45) Identification-based trust 0.72 0.88 0.81
IDBT1
IDBT2 0.85 46.21
IDBT3 0.83 34.19
0.87 57.10
Correlations: INBT IDBT
INBT 0.88
IDBT 0.54 0.85
Brand page Affective commitment 0.81 0.95 0.92
AC1 0.88 72.27
commitment AC2 0.93 92.84
AC3 0.87 58.51
(R2 of eWOM: AC4 0.92 94.41
0.43) Cognitive commitment 0.78 0.91 0.86
CC1 0.88 62.12
CC2 0.92 100.73
CC3 0.84 55.65
Correlations: AC CC
AC 0.90
CC 0.57 0.88
114
Step 5: Access the fitness of each proposed second-order construct.

a) We formulated the second-order constructs as shown in Figure 5.3. Each


model construct is treated as a second-order formative construct with
their respective constructs serving as its first-order constructs.

IQ1
IQ2 Information
IQ3 quality

PL1 Functional
Product-related eWOM
PL2 learning value
EB1
EB2
Economic benefit
EB3
EB4
Model 11: Second-order Construct for Functional Value

INT1
INT2 Interactivity
INT3
COL1
COL2
Collaboration Social value eWOM
COL3
COL4
SP1
Social presence
SP2
SP3
Model 12: Second-order Construct for Social Value
ENT1
ENT2 Entertainment
ENT3 Emotional
eWOM
value
ARO1
Arousal
ARO3

Model 13: Second-order Construct for Emotional Value


INBT1
INBT2
Information-based
INBT3 trust
Brand page
INBT4 eWOM
trust
IDBT1 Identification-based
IDBT2 trust
IDBT3
Model 14: Second-order Construct for Brand Page Trust
AC1
AC2 Affective
IAC3 commitment
AC4 Brand page
eWOM
commitment
CC1
Cognitive
CC2 commitment
CC3
Model 15: Second-order Construct for Brand Page Commitment

Figure 5.3 Second-order Formative Models

115
b) We now conducted the tests as described in Section 3.5.2.2:

1. Table 5.6 shows the correlations among first-order constructs within each
proposed second-order construct. The correlations among the first-order
constructs range from 0.28 to 0.58, with an average score of 0.42. These
results suggest that these second-order constructs are correctly
represented as formative instead of reflective because all correlations are
lower than 0.8 (Pavlou & El Sawy, 2006).

Table 5.6 Correlations among First-order Constructs

2nd order construct 1st order construct correlations


IQ PL: 0.28
Functional value IQ EB: 0.33
PL EB: 0.37
INT COL: 0.39
Social value INT SP: 0.40
COL SP: 0.44
Emotional value ENT ARO: 0.47
Brand page trust INBT IDBT: 0.54
Brand page commitment AC CC: 0.58

2. Table 5.7 reveals the strength of the relationship between each


second-order construct and its first-order constructs. All path coefficients
are significant at the level of p<0.001. We thus passed this test.

Table 5.7 Results of Relationship Strength Test

Path coefficients
2nd order construct 1st order construct
(t-values)
Information quality 0.39 (17.95*)
Functional value
Product-related learning 0.06 (11.39*)
(R2 of eWOM: 0.35)
Economic benefit 0.20 (15.16*)
Interactivity 0.10 (21.57*)
Social value
Collaboration 0.22 (31.63*)
(R2 of eWOM: 0.32)
Social presence 0.17 (26.70*)
Emotional value Entertainment 0.40 (31.31*)
(R2 of eWOM: 0.33) Arousal 0.21 (23.48*)
Information-based trust 0.46 (29.74*)
Brand page trust
Identification-based
(R2 of eWOM: 0.44) 0.21 (20.94*)
trust
Brand page Affective commitment 0.42 (49.34*)
commitment
Cognitive commitment 0.19 (48.92*)
(R2 of eWOM: 0.42)
Note: *p<0.001

116
3. We conducted the VIF test. Our results reveal that VIF values for all
first-order constructs range from 1.08 to 1.41, showing multicollinearity
in not a problem in our study.

In conclusion, the above results reveal that each of second-order constructs is a

more parsimonious representation with its respective first-order constructs, and

that they fully captured the predictive power on the proposed dependent variable.

These test results supported and verified that our proposed model constructs are

correctly represented as second-order formative constructs.

5.3. Structural Model Assessment

In the following, we present the result findings of direct relationships and indirect

relationships of our structural model.

5.3.1. Direct Relationships

The proposed research model as presented in Figure 3.1 was tested using

SmartPLS 2.0. Figure 5.4 reveals the result findings including the variance

explained (R2 value) of their respective dependent variables. Table 5.8 outlines

the results of the hypothesis testing of the structural model, including the

estimated path coefficients, standard errors, and t-statistics. Table 5.9 presents the

summary of hypotheses testing. We now discuss these results below.

117
Gender Age Brand page Industry
tenure type
-0.00 0.03
0.11* 0.00 Relationship
* Durability
H5a:0.43** (R2=0.48)
H1a:0.10 Brand Page
Functional Commitment
Value (R2=0.66) H6a:0.35**
H1b:0.25** H7a:0.43** eWOM
Intention
H8a:0.38** (R2=0.50)
H2a:0.15**
Social H4:0.39**
Value
H2b:0.12* Continued
H5b:0.32**
Interaction
H6b:0.41** (R2=0.39)
H3a:0.26**
Brand Page H7b:0.24**
Emotional Trust
Value H3b:0.28** (R2=0.51) Functional
H8b:0.42**
Conflict
(R2=0.55)
-0.05 0.13** 0.19** 0.01

Gender Age Brand page Industry


tenure type
Second-order constructs
First-order constructs
* p<0.05; ** p<0.01 Figure 5.4 Modeling Results Control variables
118
Table 5.8 Results of Structural Model Testing

Parameter Sample Standard T


Path
Estimate Mean Error Statistics
FV -> BPC (H1a) 0.10 0.10 0.07 1.68
FV -> BPT (H1b) 0.25** 0.25 0.06 4.23
SV -> BPC (H2a) 0.15** 0.15 0.05 2.93
SV -> BPT (H2b) 0.12* 0.12 0.06 2.02
EV -> BPC (H3a) 0.26** 0.26 0.06 4.53
EV -> BPT (H3b) 0.28** 0.28 0.05 5.13
BPT -> BPC (H4) 0.39** 0.38 0.09 4.57
BPC -> RD (H5a) 0.43** 0.43 0.05 7.93
BPT -> RD (H5b) 0.32** 0.31 0.06 5.17
BPC -> WOM (H6a) 0.35** 0.35 0.06 6.25
BPT -> WOM (H6b) 0.41** 0.41 0.06 6.88
BPC -> CI (H7a) 0.43** 0.43 0.06 7.13
BPT -> CI (H7b) 0.24** 0.23 0.06 3.93
BPC -> FC (H8a) 0.38** 0.38 0.06 6.82
BPT -> FC (H8b) 0.42** 0.42 0.05 8.30
Gender -> BPC 0.11** 0.11 0.03 3.32
Gender -> BPT -0.05 -0.05 0.04 1.29
Age -> BPC -0.00 0.00 0.03 0.01
Age -> BPT 0.13** 0.13 0.04 3.40
Brand page tenure -> BPC 0.03 0.03 0.04 0.80
Brand page tenure -> BPT 0.19** 0.19 0.04 5.19
Industry typ -> BPC 0.00 0.00 0.03 0.02
Industry type -> BPT 0.01 0.01 0.03 0.27
* p<0.05; ** p<0.01

Table 5.9 Summary of Hypotheses Testing Results

Hypotheses Results
H1a Functional value is positively related to ones brand page Not
commitment. supported
H1b Functional value is positively related to ones brand page Supported
trust.
H2a Social value is positively related to ones brand page Supported
commitment.
H2b Social value is positively related to ones brand page trust. Supported
H3a Emotional value is positively related to ones brand page Supported
commitment.
H3b Emotional value is positively related to ones brand page Supported
trust.
H4 Brand page trust is positively related to ones brand page Supported
commitment.
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H5a Brand page commitment is positively related to ones Supported
relationship durability.
H5b Brand page trust is positively related to ones relationship Supported
durability.
H6a Brand page commitment is positively related to ones eWOM Supported
intention.
H6b Brand page trust is positively related to ones eWOM Supported
intention.
H7a Brand page commitment is positively related to ones Supported
continued interaction.
H7b Brand page trust is positively related to ones continued Supported
interaction.
H8a Brand page commitment is positively related to ones Supported
functional conflict.
H8b Brand page trust is positively related to ones functional Supported
conflict.

5.3.1.1.Effects of Customer Values on Brand Page Commitment

As shown in Figure 5.4, the path coefficient of functional value on brand page

commitment is =0.10 (p>0.05), which is not significant. H1a is rejected. This

indicates that the functional value perception of the brand page exerts no effect on

brand page commitment.

The path coefficient of social value on brand page commitment is =0.15, which

is significant at p<0.01 level. H2a is supported. This shows that social value

perception of the brand page has a positive significant impact on brand page

commitment.

The path coefficient of emotional value on brand page commitment is =0.26,

which is significant at p<0.01 level. H3a is supported. This suggests that there is

significant positive relationship between emotional value perception of the brand


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page and brand page commitment.

In sum, brand page commitment is significantly determined by customers

perceptions of the social and emotional value of the brand page, but not the

functional value perception. Emotional value (=0.26, p<0.01) exerts a stronger

impact than social value (=0.15, p<0.01) on brand page commitment.

5.3.1.2.Effects of Customer Values on Brand Page Trust

The path coefficient of functional value on brand page trust is =0.25, which is

significant at the level of p<0.0.1. H1b is validated. This indicates that functional

value perception of the brand page has a positive significant effect on brand page

trust.

The path coefficient of social value on brand page trust is =0.12, which is

significant at the level of p<0.05. H2b is supported. This shows that the

relationship between social value perception of the brand page and brand page

trust is positively significant.

The path coefficient of emotional value on brand page trust is=0.28, which is

significant at the level of p<0.01. H3b is supported. This suggests that emotional

value perception of the brand page exerts positive significant impact on brand

page trust.

In conclusion, the effects of functional, social, and emotional value perceptions of

the brand page on customers trust are all positively significant. Among these

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three customer values, emotional value has the highest impact (=0.28, p<0.01)

on brand page trust, while social value has the lowest impact (=0.12, p<0.05).

5.3.1.3.Effect of Brand Page Trust on Brand Page Commitment

As shown in Figure 5.4, the path coefficient of brand page trust on brand page

commitment is =0.39, which is significant at the level of p<0.01. H4 is supported.

This confirms that customers trust in the brand page positively contributes to

their commitment to the brand page.

The R2 value of brand page trust is 0.51, while the R2 value of brand page

commitment is 0.66, suggesting that our model provides sufficient explanation of

the variance in these two model constructs.

5.3.1.4.Relationship Outcomes of Brand Page Commitment

The path coefficient of brand page commitment on relationship durability is

=0.43, which is significant at the level of p<0.01. H5a is validated. This suggests

that customers commitment to the brand page positively contributes to their

relationship durability with the brand page.

The path coefficient of brand page commitment on electronic word of mouth

intention is =0.35, which is significant at the level of p<0.01. H6a is supported.

This suggests that customers commitment to the brand page is positively related

to their intention to spread positive eWOM about the company of the brand page.

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The path coefficient of brand page commitment on continued interaction is =0.43,

which is significant at the level of p<0.01. H7a is supported. This suggests that

customers continued interaction with the company of the brand page is a positive

outcome of their commitment to the brand page.

The path coefficient of brand page commitment on functional conflict is =0.38,

which is significant at the level of p<0.01. H8a is validated. This suggests that

customers commitment to the brand page significantly makes customer believe

that future conflicts will be resolved harmoniously.

In conclusion, the effects of brand page commitment on four relationship

outcomes are all significant at the level of p<0.01, which confirm our hypotheses

that brand page commitment is positively related to all relationship outcomes. Our

results show that brand page commitment has the equal highest impact on both

relationship durability and continued interaction (=0.43, p<0.01), and it has the

lowest impact on electronic word of mouth intention (=0.35, p<0.01).

5.3.1.5.Relationship Outcomes of Brand Page Trust

The path coefficient of brand page trust on relationship durability is =0.32,

which is significant at the level of p<0.01. H5b is supported. This suggests that

customers trust in the brand page positively contributes to their relationship

durability with the brand page.

The path coefficient of brand page trust on electronic word of mouth intention is

=0.41, which is significant at the level of p<0.01. H6b is validated. This

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confirms that customers trust in the brand page significantly contributes to their

intention to spread positive electronic word of mouth about the company of the

brand page.

The path coefficient of brand page trust on continued interaction is =0.24, which

is significant at the level of p<0.01. H7b is supported. This indicates that

customers trust in the brand page positively impacts their intention to continue

interacting with the company of the brand page.

The path coefficient of brand page trust on functional conflict is =0.42, which is

significant at the level of p<0.01. H8b is supported. This suggests that customers

trust in the brand page significantly contributes to customers perception that

future conflicts with this company will be resolved towards mutual benefits.

In conclusion, the effects of brand page trust on four relationship outcomes are all

significant at the level of p<0.01, which confirm all our hypotheses from brand

page trust to relationship outcomes. Our results show that brand page trust has the

highest impact on electronic word of mouth intention (=0.41, p<0.01), and it has

the lowest impact on continued interaction (=0.24, p<0.01). In addition, R2

values of relationship durability, electronic word of mouth intention, continued

interaction, and functional conflict are 0.48, 0.50, 0.39, and 0.55, respectively.

This shows that our proposed research model provides substantial explanations of

the variance in the relationship outcomes.

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5.3.1.6.Effects of Control Variables

In terms of control variables, gender is positively related to ones brand page

commitment (=0.11, p<0.01), suggesting that women tend to commit to brand

pages more than men. Age is found to be positively related to ones brand page

trust (=0.13, p<0.01), indicating that mature users tend to develop more trust in

brand pages than young users. In addition, brand page tenure is confirmed to be

positively related to ones brand page trust (=0.19, p<0.01), which suggests that

users with a longer tenure in a brand page are more likely to trust toward the

brand page. Industry type is found to have no effects on both brand page

commitment and trust.

5.3.2. Indirect Relationships

In this part, we examine the mediating effects of brand page commitment and trust

between each customer value (i.e., functional, social, and emotional value) and

each relationship outcome (i.e., relationship durability, eWOM intention,

continued interaction, and functional conflict). We included three sets of

mediators: 1) brand page trust, 2) brand page commitment, and 3) brand page trust

and commitment as multiple mediators. We followed the testing methods as

described in Section 3.5.3.2, and we only examine the effects of significant paths

as revealed in Figure 5.4.

We computed the Sobel-z scores (Sobel, 1982) for each significant mediating path.

Table 5.10 presents the results of the mediation analysis. In this table, column 4

reveals the respective Sobel-z values for each mediating path. Column 5 reveals
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the path coefficient of the respective independent variable on its dependent

variable with the presence of mediator variable(s). A significant path value of

column 5 implies that the respective mediator(s) plays a partial mediating role

between the independent and dependent variables; otherwise, the respective

mediator(s) plays a full mediating role.

Table 5.10 Results of Mediation Analysis

Sobel-z IV->DV
IV M DV (p value) (in control of mediator) Mediation
value
RD 7.86 (p<0.001) 0.36** Partial
eWOM 8.50 (p<0.001) 0.37** Partial
BPT CI 6.80 (p<0.001) 0.33** Partial
FC 9.16 (p<0.001) 0.32** Partial
FV BPC 9.53 (p<0.001) 0.37** Partial
RD 9.62 (p<0.001) 0.27** Partial
BPT eWOM 9.70 (p<0.001) 0.27** Partial
+BPC CI 8.48 (p<0.001) 0.20* Partial
FC 10.55 (p<0.001) 0.21** Partial
RD 7.93 (p<0.001) 0.30** Partial
eWOM 8.52 (p<0.001) 0.33** Partial
BPT CI 6.77 (p<0.001) 0.30** Partial
FC 9.11 (p<0.001) 0.32** Partial
BPC 9.42 (p<0.001) 0.40** Partial
RD 8.98 (p<0.001) 0.22** Partial
SV eWOM 8.44 (p<0.001) 0.30** Partial
BPC
CI 7.94 (p<0.001) 0.21* Partial
FC 9.16 (p<0.001) 0.28** Partial
RD 9.84 (p<0.001) 0.16* Partial
BPT eWOM 9.70 (p<0.001) 0.22** Partial
+BPC CI 8.55 (p<0.001) 0.15 Full
FC 10.50 (p<0.001) 0.20** Partial
RD 7.84 (p<0.001) 0.25** Partial
eWOM 8.54 (p<0.001) 0.27** Partial
BPT CI 6.58 (p<0.001) 0.24** Partial
FC 9.64 (p<0.001) 0.19** Partial
BPC 9.29 (p<0.001) 0.41** Partial
RD 8.94 (p<0.001) 0.16* Partial
EV eWOM 8.12 (p<0.001) 0.24** Partial
BPC
CI 7.87 (p<0.001) 0.14* Partial
FC 9.61 (p<0.001) 0.14* Partial
RD 10.00 (p<0.001) 0.09 Full
BPT eWOM 9.70 (p<0.001) 0.16* Partial
+BPC CI 8.60 (p<0.001) 0.09 Full
FC 11.39 (p<0.001) 0.04 Full
Where:
Note 1: *p<0.01; **p<0.001.
Note 2: IV: independent variable; M: mediator; DV: dependent variable;
FV: functional value; SV: social value; EV: emotional value; BPT:
brand page trust; BPC: brand page commitment; RD: relationship
durability; WOM: word of mouth intention; PI: purchase intention;
CI: continued interaction; FC: functional conflict.
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5.3.2.1.The Mediating Role of Brand Page Commitment

From Table 5.10, it reveals that the indirect relationships of social value on

relationship outcomes through brand page commitment are all significant. In

particular, brand page commitment significantly mediates the relationships

between social value and each of relationship durability (Sobel-z=8.98, p<0.01),

eWOM intention ((Sobel-z=8.44, p<0.01), continued interaction (Sobel-z=7.94,

p<0.01), and functional conflict (Sobel-z=9.16, p<0.01). Since the impacts of

social value on relationship outcomes are all significant with the presence of the

mediator, brand page commitment serves as a partial mediator in all of these

mediating paths.

The indirect relationships of emotional value on relationship outcomes through

brand page commitment are also all significant. In particular, brand page

commitment significantly mediates the relationships between emotional value and

each of relationship durability (Sobel-z=8.94, p<0.01), eWOM intention

((Sobel-z=8.12, p<0.01), continued interaction (Sobel-z=7.87, p<0.01), and

functional conflict (Sobel-z=9.61, p<0.01). The impacts of emotional value on

relationship outcomes are all significant with the presence of the mediator;

therefore brand page commitment serves as a partial mediator in these mediating

paths.

In conclusion, brand page commitment serves as key mediating roles between

each of social and emotional values and each of the four relationship outcomes.

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5.3.2.2.The Mediating Role of Brand Page Trust

We also assessed the indirect effects of each customer value (i.e., functional,

social, and emotional values) on brand page commitment and each relationship

outcome (i.e., relationship durability, eWOM intention, continued interaction, and

functional conflict) through the mediating effect of brand page trust.

From Table 5.10, the results show that the indirect relationships of functional

value on relationship outcomes and brand page commitment through brand page

trust are all significant. In particular, brand page trust significantly mediates the

relationships between functional value and each of relationship durability

(Sobel-z=7.86, p<0.01), eWOM intention ((Sobel-z=8.50, p<0.01), continued

interaction (Sobel-z=6.80, p<0.01), functional conflict (Sobel-z=9.16, p<0.01),

and brand page commitment (Sobel-z=9.53, p<0.01). The impacts of functional

value on brand page commitment and relationship outcomes are all significant

with the presence of the mediator variable; therefore we conclude that brand page

trust serves as a partial mediator in all of these mediating paths.

The indirect relationships of social value on each relationship outcome and brand

page commitment through brand page trust are all significant. In particular, brand

page trust significantly mediates the relationships between social value and each

of relationship durability (Sobel-z=7.93, p<0.01), eWOM intention

((Sobel-z=8.52, p<0.01), continued interaction (Sobel-z=6.77, p<0.01), functional

conflict (Sobel-z=9.11, p<0.01), and brand page commitment (Sobel-z=9.42,

p<0.01). The impacts of social value on relationship outcomes and brand page

commitment are all significant with the presence of the mediator variable;
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therefore we conclude that brand page trust is served as a partial mediator in all of

these mediating paths.

The indirect relationships of emotional value on each relationship outcome and

brand page commitment through brand page trust are also all significant. In

particular, brand page trust significantly mediates the relationships between

emotional value and each of relationship durability (Sobel-z=7.84, p<0.01),

eWOM intention ((Sobel-z=8.54, p<0.01), continued interaction (Sobel-z=6.58,

p<0.01), functional conflict (Sobel-z=9.64, p<0.01), and brand page commitment

(Sobel-z=9.29, p<0.01). The impacts of emotional value on relationship outcomes

and brand page commitment are all significant with the presence of the mediator

variable; therefore brand page trust serves as a partial mediator in all of these

mediating paths.

In conclusion, our results confirm that brand page trust is served as a key mediator

between the effects of: 1) each of customer values on each of relationship

outcomes; and 2) each of customer values on brand page commitment.

5.3.2.3.The Multiple Mediating Roles of Brand Page Commitment and Trust

In this section, we assess the indirect effects of each customer value (i.e.,

functional, social, and emotional values) on each relationship outcome (i.e.,

relationship durability, eWOM intention, continued interaction, and functional

conflict) through the multiple mediating effects (MME) of brand page

commitment and trust.

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From Table 5.10, the results show that the indirect relationships of functional

value on each of relationship outcomes through brand page commitment and trust

are all significant. In particular, the MME of brand page commitment and trust is

significant on the relationships between functional value and each of relationship

durability (Sobel-z=9.62, p<0.01), eWOM intention (Sobel-z=9.70, p<0.01),

continued interaction (Sobel-z=8.48, p<0.01), and functional conflict

(Sobel-z=10.55, p<0.01). The impacts of functional value on each of relationship

outcomes are all insignificant with the presence of the mediator variables;

therefore we conclude that the impacts of functional value on each of relationship

outcomes are partially mediated by the MME of brand page commitment and

trust.

The indirect relationships of social value on each of relationship outcomes

through the MME of brand page commitment and trust are all significant. In

particular, brand page commitment and trust significantly mediate the

relationships between social value and each of relationship durability

(Sobel-z=9.84, p<0.01), eWOM intention ((Sobel-z=9.70, p<0.01), continued

interaction (Sobel-z=8.55, p<0.01), and functional conflict (Sobel-z=10.50,

p<0.01). The impacts of social value on relationship durability, eWOM intention,

and functional conflict are all significant with the presence of the mediator

variables; therefore we conclude that the MME of brand page commitment and

trust is partial mediating in these mediating paths. On the other hand, the impact

of social value on continued interaction is insignificant with the presence of the

mediators; therefore we conclude that the MME of brand page commitment and

trust is full mediating in this mediating path.

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The indirect relationships of emotional value on each of relationship outcomes

through brand page commitment and trust are all significant. In particular, the

MME of brand page commitment and trust are significant on the relationships

between social value and each of relationship durability (Sobel-z=10.00, p<0.01),

eWOM intention ((Sobel-z=9.70, p<0.01), continued interaction (Sobel-z=8.60,

p<0.01), and functional conflict (Sobel-z=11.39, p<0.01). The impacts of

emotional value on relationship durability, continued interaction, and functional

conflict are all insignificant with the presence of the mediator variables; therefore

we conclude that the MME of brand page commitment and trust is full mediating

in these mediating paths. On the other hand, the impact of emotional value on

eWOM intention is significant with the presence of the mediators; therefore we

conclude that the MME of brand page commitment and trust serve is partial

mediating in this mediating path.

In conclusion, our results confirm that the MME of brand page commitment and

trust are significant between the effects of each of customer values (i.e., functional,

social, and emotional values) on each of relationship outcomes.

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CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS

This chapter presents the interpretations of result findings, as well as the detailed

discussions and implications on our research findings. It includes the following

sections:

a) Overall Result Findings;

b) Effects of Customer Values on Brand Page Commitment;

c) Effects of Customer Values on Brand Page Trust;

d) Effect of Brand Page Trust on Brand Page Commitment;

e) Effects of Brand Page Commitment on Relationship Outcomes;

f) Effects of Brand Page Trust on Relationship Outcomes;

g) Mediating Role of Brand Page Commitment;

h) Mediating Role of Brand Page Trust; and

i) Mediating Roles of Brand Page Commitment and Trust.

6.1. Overall Result Findings

This thesis investigates how customer values impact brand page commitment and

trust, and how they further impact customer relationship outcomes on the brand

page. We measure customer values based on the Customer Value Theory by

including three model constructs: functional, social, and emotional values. We

measure customer relationship outcomes on the brand page based on four

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commonly discussed outcomes in SNS and brand community literature:

relationship durability, electronic word of mouth intention (eWOM), continued

interaction, and functional conflict. We also examine the mediating roles of brand

page commitment and trust on the relationship between customer values and

relationship outcomes. This thesis empirically validated our proposed research

model using data collected from brand pages in Sina Microblog. Our result

findings reveal that customers commitment to, and trust in, a brand page is

significantly determined by their perceptions of the functional, social, and

emotional values of brand pages, and they further significantly predict the four

relationship outcomes (i.e., relationship durability, eWOM intention, continued

interaction, and functional conflict) related to both the brand page and the

company. Overall, our results support all the hypotheses in the proposed model

except H1a (i.e., functional value positively relates to brand page commitment).

We also confirmed the key mediating effects of brand page commitment and trust

on the relationship between customer values and relationship outcomes. We now

discuss these detailed research findings below.

6.2. Effects of Customer Values on Brand Page Commitment

This study confirms the significant role of customer values in determining

customers commitment to brand pages. Nowadays, there are many companies

striving to capture the potential of the brand page in promoting customers loyalty

through the enhancement of brand page commitment (Gummerus, et al., 2012).

However, there is still no clear understanding of the underlying factors that drive a

high commitment in the brand page context. This study focuses on customers

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value perceptions to explain what drives customers to commit to brand pages.

Through a literature review on commitment in brand community and SNS studies,

we conceptualize the model construct of brand page commitment as including two

constructs: affective commitment and cognitive commitment. Our validation of

second-order constructs reveals that these two constructs are good representations

of customer commitment on the brand page. Previous studies have also found

positive relationships between customers value perceptions and their

commitment in different contexts. For example, Musa et al. (2005) reported that

customers perceived value of the seller is positively related to their commitment

in the context of direct sales channel. Our study explores the detailed content of

three customer values in the brand page context, attempting to present a more

comprehensive understanding of how various customer value perceptions

contribute to customers brand page commitment. In the following, we discuss

these particular effects of the three customer values (i.e., functional, social, and

emotional value) on brand page commitment.

6.2.1. Functional Value

Our results show that functional value has no significant effect on brand page

commitment, which is contradiction to our prediction. This shows that a high

functional value of a brand page is not sufficient for motivating customers

commitment. Similar findings have been reported in previous studies. For

example, Kim et al. (2008) report that brand community commitment are more

determined by the values of social support than by functionalities. Another

explanation might be due to the fact that SNS users tend to place more emphasis

on socializing and entertainment than on functional issues (Sledgianowski &


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Kulviwat, 2009).

Past studies present similar findings regarding the insignificant role of functional

value in predicting user attitudes and behaviors. For example, it is reported that

functional value is insignificantly related to users value perception of mobile

technology (Kim, et al., 2013). Kim et al. (2011) find that functional value is not

significant in predicting customers purchasing behaviors in SNS. Therefore, in

our research context, we may conclude that functional value could be regarded as

inherently a part of a brand pages capability (e.g., following it to receive updated

news about the brand or gain some knowledge about the brand) rather than

necessity in the motivation to make customers feel committed. However, it

should also be noted that functional value has an indirect effect on brand page

commitment through the impact of brand page trust, suggesting the latter

observation serves as a significant mechanism through which functional value can

be enhanced to contribute to brand page commitment.

6.2.2. Social Value

Our results show that social value of the brand page is positively related to brand

page commitment. As discussed in Chapters 2 and 3, social features are

recognized as the key characteristics of the brand page since the brand page is

built on the social networking platform (Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2013b). Therefore,

as we expected, customers tend to be more likely to develop commitment to brand

pages which provide them with superior social experiences. This demonstrates

that social features of the brand page supported by SNS functions have

contributed to not only the relationship development among users but also the
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relationship development between users and companies. In traditional marketing

activities, customers used to be passive receivers of promotional information

(Baird & Parasnis, 2011). The brand page built in SNS changed the way how

companies connect with customers by providing social values such as timely

interactions, close collaborations, and experience of social presence (Parent, et al.,

2011). Brand pages are therefore able to enhance customers commitment through

supporting customers social relationships, social exchange, and social identity on

the brand page.

Our finding is consistent with results in prior research that a brand community

with a higher level of social interactions may have more committed and loyalty

users. For example, Kim et al. (2008) confirm that the member support for social

communications in a brand community significantly contributes to members

commitment to the community. Similarly, in our study, a brand page that provides

superior social value to customers, such as facilitating the relationship

development, social presence, and social collaborations, is expected to have a

higher level of customer engagement and involvement. When customers are

positively engaged in a brand page, they are more likely to develop a deep

attachment to the brand page (Gummerus, et al., 2012).

6.2.3. Emotional Value

Our results reveal that emotional value of the brand page is positively related to

brand page commitment. Previous studies show that emotional feelings are

positively related to the development of users attachment to technologies

especially in hedonic-oriented contexts (Wu & Holsapple, 2014). We have thus


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further confirmed the impact of emotional value perception on customer

commitment in the brand page context. This thesis measures the emotional value

of the brand page with two dimensions: entertainment and arousal. Both

dimensions are powerful in predicting brand page commitment since they enhance

customers positive feelings toward the brand page and stimulate their curiosity to

keep finding whats new on the brand page of those followed companies.

Similar findings have also been reported in previous studies which indicate that

users positive inner feelings contribute to their commitment in the online context.

For example, Gupta and Kim (2007) indicated that pleasure positively impacts

users commitment to virtual online communities.

Among the three customer values, emotional value has the most significant impact

on brand page commitment. This finding indicates that, although the brand page is

designed to promote marketing information to customers, the most important

value that it should provide to customers is emotional experiences. As discussed,

the brand page is built upon the SNS platform which emphasizes more on hedonic

values (Sledgianowski & Kulviwat, 2009). Therefore, emotional value in such a

context might be more important for the customer relationship development than

the functional value and social value (Gummerus, et al., 2012).

6.3. Effects of Customer Values on Brand Page Trust

This study confirms the significant effects of customer values on brand page trust.

Akter et al. (2011) argues that trust is a context-dependent construct whose

relevant drivers depend on particular circumstances. With the rapid development

of brand pages in SNS, the underlying drivers of customer trust in this context is
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one of most important and yet-to-be solved issues. Based on a thorough literature

review, we identified that brand page trust includes two constructs:

information-based trust and identification-based trust. We focused on customers

value perceptions to explain customers trust in the brand page. In particular, we

assessed the relationships between three customer values (i.e., functional, social,

and emotional values) and brand page trust. In the following, we discuss our result

findings.

6.3.1. Functional Value

Our results show that functional value is positively related to customers trust in a

brand page. This finding suggests that customers tend to be more likely to trust a

brand page which provides superior functional value, such as posting high quality

information, and rewarding customers constantly. Functional value has long been

considered as the major driver of customers favorable attitudes since it represents

the initial needs of customers (Bernardo, et al., 2012). Consistent with previous

research, this thesis theorizes functional value as one aspect of customer values on

the brand page, and we extended previous understanding of functional value by

confirming its importance in determining customers trust in the brand page

context. Past studies in SNS have also emphasized the importance of functional

value in determining the overall value and user trust in SNS. For example, the

study of Lu and Hsiao (2010) found that functional value, in terms of quality and

monetary value, significantly contributes to the overall value and the

trustworthiness of a social networking community. According to previous study, a

high level of overall value percepton is strongly related to users trust building

since such a value reduces uncertainty in relationship exchange and enhances


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users confidence (Kim, Zhao, & Yang, 2008). In the brand page context, since

there is no physical product being sold, functional value perception of the brand

page becomes more essential for customers to evaluate the quality and

trustworthiness of the brand page (Wang, 2013). In addition, our results also

suggest that functional value exerts indirect effect on brand page commitment and

relationship outcomes through brand page trust. This further indicates that

functional value is essential on the brand page in order to facilitate customers

trust and indirectly contribute to subsequent relationship outcomes.

6.3.2. Social Value

According to the analysis results, the impact of social value on brand page trust is

significant, which demonstrates that customers social value perception of the

brand page is positively related to their trust in the brand page. As discussed in

Chapters 2 and 3, the social relationships developed on the brand page are

important to enhance the social capital among customers on the brand page, and

that trust can be more easily built in an online environment with strong social

capital (Valenzuela, Park, & Kee, 2009). Moreover, our results suggest that, to

enhance a high level of brand page trust, companies are required to manage the

social environment of the brand page in an honest manner, that is, to facilitating

mutual trusting relationships on the brand page. This is consistent with previous

research findings that the trustworthy of social relationships in online social

networking contexts plays a significant role in enhancing user trust

(Grabner-Kruter, 2009).

The positive effect of social value on trust may be even more significant in the
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SNS brand page context than in traditional e-commerce context (Bansal & Chen,

2011). The brand page in SNS is a complex community involving large amount of

information exchange and social interactions (Hutter, et al., 2013). In contrary to

e-commerce websites which mainly focus on direct online transactions, the brand

pages in SNS emphasize on social interactions which produce business

opportunities. Consumers may evaluate the trustworthiness of companies in

e-commerce through direct online shopping experiences. However, in the SNS

brand pages, consumers can only assess the trustworthiness of the brand page

through the information posted on it and also the social interactions conducted on

it (Yadav, De Valck, Hennig-Thurau, Hoffman, & Spann, 2013). In such cases,

social value is extremely important in order to enhance customers trust in the

brand page since it facilitates relational exchanges through which trust can be

established (Chang, Cheung, & Tang, 2013).

6.3.3. Emotional Value

The results have shown that emotional value of the brand page is positively

related to brand page trust. Bart et al. (2005) point out that online trust building is

associated with reduced uncertainty, and customers positive emotional feeling

could help them to develop trust in the complicated online environment. Our

results show that the effect of emotional value on brand page trust is stronger than

the effects of functional and social values. This finding suggests that customers

inner feelings are the most salient driver of their trusting intentions in the brand

page context. This finding is consistent with previous research which argues that

the SNS is centered on hedonic experiences, and that emotional value strongly

determines customers attitudes in such an environment (Kim, et al., 2011). For


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example, the study of Sledgianowski and Kulviwat (2009) found that playfulness

has a stronger impact on users continuance intention toward social networking

sites than other functional and social factors such as perceived usefulness and

normative pressure. Similarly, in our study, we confirm that when customers feel

entertained and aroused when participating on a brand page, they develop a

positive trusting intention towards the brand page. In addition, Gummerus, et al.

(2012) find that once the brand community have been designed to support specific

emotional value components, for example, posting entertaining information and

organizing stimulating activities, customers may become more emotionally

involved. Such emotional involvement provides them more mechanisms through

which trust could be developed.

6.4. Effect of Brand Page Trust on Brand Page Commitment

Our results confirmed the positive effect of brand page trust on brand page

commitment. Although the positive relationship between trust and commitment

has been found by previous studies in various contexts (e.g.,De Ruyter, et al.,

2001; Garbarino & Johnson, 1999; Park, Lee, Lee, & Truex, 2012), our study is

one of the first to confirm such a relationship in the context of SNS brand page.

This finding is important since the issues of trust and commitment have become

more complicated in the SNS brand page context than in previous e-commerce

and traditional business environment. The complexity of information sources and

low switching cost in the SNS brand page context makes it more difficult for

companies to nurturing a high level of customer trust and commitment. Based on

the results of our study, trust in the brand page is a vital step in building customer

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commitment. This study therefore offers a theoretical underpinning of the

mechanism through which companies could leverage brand page attributes to

enhance customer trust and their downstream commitment. In addition, brand

page trust also mediates some of the effects of relationship antecedents (i.e.,

customer values) on brand page commitment, further confirming the importance

the positive relationship between trust and commitment on the brand page.

6.5. Effects of Brand Page Commitment on Relationship

Outcomes

Our study confirms the significant roles of brand page commitment in predicting

customer relationship outcomes. The effects of brand page commitment on

relationship durability, eWOM intention, continued interaction, and functional

conflict are all found as significant. These results prove the effectiveness of SNS

brand pages in improving business performance and boosting business

opportunities. With proper e-marketing strategies based on customer values,

customer relationship quality in terms of brand page commitment can be greatly

enhanced, and also brand page commitment can be further promoted to generate

favorable relationship outcomes.

Among the four customer relationship outcomes on the brand page, brand page

commitment has the most significant impact on relationship durability, followed

by continued interaction, functional conflict, and eWOM intention. Since

commitment is proposed as a key determinant of customer loyalty in previous

studies (Hur, et al., 2011), it is reasonable to see that it contributes the most to

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customers relationship durability with the brand page. Continued interaction is

largely related to customers engagement and involvement in brand page activities.

Previous studies have found that committed users are more likely to engage and

frequently participate in online brand communities (Brodie, et al., 2013).

Consisting with previous studies, our results reveal that brand page commitment

significantly determinants customers continued interaction intention. The impact

of commitment on functional conflict has also been confirmed by past studies

(e.g.,Goo & Huang, 2008). Our study has extended the understanding of this

relationship by validating it in the new context of brand page. For traditional

business relationships, commitment usually measures the devotion of both trading

parties (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). However, brand page commitment only measures

customers one-side commitment. Therefore our finding has significant meanings

to show that this kind of one-side commitment is also important in making

customers believe that future conflicts can be solved harmoniously. The effect of

brand page commitment on eWOM intention is also found to be significant. This

reveals that once a customer has developed attachment to a brand page, he/she

may be more likely to recommend this brand page or the company of this brand

page to his/her connected friends. This finding is consistent with previous studies

investigating the relationship between customer commitment and eWOM

intention in online community context. For example, Kim et al. (2008) confirm

that customers commitment in a brand community is positively related to their

eWOM intention about that brand. This thesis confirms this relationship in the

brand page context, which is of great significance for companies because the

platforms of SNS make it much easier and more quickly for users to spread

positive eWOM.

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6.6. Effects of Brand Page Trust on Relationship Outcomes

Our study also investigates the role of brand page trust in predicting customer

relationship outcomes. The effects of brand page trust on relationship durability,

eWOM intention, continued interaction, and functional conflict are all confirmed

as significant. The results prove that business performance can be enhanced

through the improvement of customers trust in the brand page.

Brand page trust is found to exert the most significant impact on functional

conflict, followed by eWOM intention, relationship durability, and continued

interaction. The significant relationship between brand page trust and functional

conflict is meaningful since it demonstrates that brand page can be effectively

used to solve disagreements with customers and to build solid trusting

relationships that avoid future conflicts. Once customers perceive that the brand

page is trustworthy, such a trust may be transferred to their trust in the company

(Ng, 2013), and make customers to perceive conflicts as functional ones and then

develop positive attitudes toward solving problems. Our results also reveal that

trust in the brand page significantly contributes to customers intention to spread

eWOM. Since companies are increasingly exploring the potential of brand pages

for transmitting their promotional information to customers and improving brand

awareness using eWOM principles (Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2013b; de Vries, et al.,

2012), this finding is meaningful for helping companies to realize such purposes.

Brand page trust also significantly contributes to customers relationship

durability and continued interaction. This implies that the trust developed in a

brand page can help to enhance customers intention to stay, and to participate on

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the brand page. Since brand page trust is represented by customers trust in both

information and other members, a high level of such trust indicates customers

favorable attitude towards the content and the environment of the brand page

(Grabner-Kruter, 2009). Therefore, relationship durability and continued

interaction intention can be greatly enhanced by the development of brand page

trust.

6.7. Mediating Role of Brand Page Commitment

This study confirmed the key mediating role of brand page commitment between

customer value perceptions and relationship outcomes. Since some past studies

are interested in exploring how brand page activities create values for companies

in terms of marketing outcomes (e.g.,Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2011b), this study is

of great significance also because we explored this black box by investigating

indirect effects of customer values on relationship outcomes through the

mediators of brand page commitment.

In this study, brand page commitment serves as partial mediators between each of

social and emotional values and four relationship outcomes. This finding implies

that brand page commitment is essential since it contributes to the improvement of

relationship outcomes by mediating the effects of social and emotional values.

Our results also showed that functional value does not exert an indirect effect on

relationship outcomes through brand page commitment. This may due to the fact

that commitment in brand communities is largely emotional based (Kim, Choi, et

al., 2008), so the increase in functional value will not necessarily result in

increased relationship outcomes through brand page commitment. However,


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enhancing brand page commitment through facilitating both social and emotional

value perceptions is still crucial, since it will increase the total effects on

customers behavioral intentions.

6.8. Mediating Role of Brand Page Trust

This study also confirms the key mediating role of brand page trust between

customer value perceptions and relationship outcomes. We also confirmed the

mediating effects of brand page trust between customer value perceptions and

brand page commitment. These results show that the mediating effect of brand

page trust contributes to the total effects of customer values on brand page

commitment and relationship outcomes. This observation suggests that building

customer trust in brand pages is a key mechanism through which companies could

effectively achieve their e-marketing goals. Similar mediating roles of trust have

also been confirmed in previous studies. For example, the study of Aurier and

NGoala (2010) found that trust mediates the effect of customers overall

satisfaction on customer relationship maintenance outcomes.

The mediating effects trust on the relationship between functional, social,

emotional values and relationship outcomes are all found to be partial ones. This

finding indicates that when brand page trust is developed, it partially accounts for

the total effects of functional, social, and emotional values in predicting

relationship outcomes. Companies use the brand page mainly for improving

business performances by delivering promotional information to customers,

enhancing customers product knowledge, and communicating with customers

(Gummerus, et al., 2012). Our result suggests that, to effectively archive the
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targeted outcomes of managing the brand page, customers trust also needs to be

enhanced since it mediates the effects of customers value perceptions on

relationship outcomes. Similar mediation effect of trust on the relationship

between customer perceptions and relationship outcomes have also been

documented in previous studies. For example, DeWitt et al. (2008) reported that

customer trust mediates the relationship between their justice perception and

loyalty intentions toward the company. The study of Qureshi (2009) confirmed

the partial mediation role of trust in the online service environment, which stated

that trust mediates the effect of customers service value perceptions on their

purchase intentions. Our study confirms the partial mediating role of customer

trust in the brand page context, which further indicates that trust is an essential

element that could increase the impacts of customers value perceptions on their

behavioral intentions.

6.9. Multiple Mediating Roles of Brand Page Commitment and

Trust

This study also confirmed the multiple mediating effects (MME) of brand page

commitment and trust on the relationships between customers value perceptions

and relationship outcomes. These results indicate that both brand page

commitment and trust are both salient factors of relationship mediators between

relationship antecedents and outcomes on the brand page.

Our findings reveal that the effects of functional value on relationship outcomes

are partially mediated by the MME of brand page commitment and trust.

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Compared with the mediating paths with only brand page trust, the mediating

paths with both brand page commitment and trust as mediators have larger Sobel

Z values. This result indicates that, when users have developed both commitment

and trust on the brand page, the total effects of functional value on each of

relationship outcomes have been greatly improved. Therefore, building both

commitment and trust are important for brand pages to maximize the effects of

customer relationship antecedents on relationship outcomes. As previous studies

have confirmed, both commitment and trust are essential in the process of

customer relationship development in online community and SNS context

(Westerlund, et al., 2009; Zhang, Ding, et al., 2013).

Our results also reveal that the effects of social value on relationship durability,

eWOM intention, and functional conflict are partially mediated by the MME of

brand page commitment and trust. The effect of social value on continued

interaction is fully mediated by both brand page commitment and trust together.

These results suggest that both brand page commitment and trust are important

mechanisms through which social value could positively influence respective

relationship outcomes. Social value of the brand page, such as interactions and

collaborations, directly contributes to customer relationship outcomes because it

creates strong social capital on the brand page (Lin & Lu, 2011a). Such social

capital could also contribute to the development of both customer commitment

and trust on the brand page, and then further impact relationship outcomes. The

MME of brand page commitment and trust indicate that they account for part of

the effects of social value on respective relationship outcomes. The MME of

brand page commitment and trust help to increase the total effects of social value

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on respective relationship outcomes. In addition, since the MME of brand page

commitment and trust is full mediating on the relationship between social value

and continued interaction, we conclude that building both customers brand page

commitment and trust together is more effective for companies to enhance

customers continued interaction intention based on social values on the brand

page.

The effects of emotional value on relationship durability, continued interaction,

and functional conflict are fully mediated by the MME of brand page commitment

and trust. These results suggest that building customers commitment and trust on

the brand page are key mechanisms through which emotional value can

effectively contribute to business performances. In the hedonic environment of

SNS brand pages, emotional value is an essential element which could positively

contribute to customers positive attitudes toward the brand page (Sledgianowski

& Kulviwat, 2009). With the development of both brand page commitment and

trust, customers emotional value perception of the brand page is turned into

emotional attachments and trusting feelings toward the brand page. In such a

manner, the total effects of emotional value on relationship outcomes can be

greatly improved. It should also be noted that the effect of emotional value on

eWOM intention is partially mediated by the MME of brand page commitment

and trust. This finding indicates that emotional value of the brand page still

directly contributes to customers eWOM intention when they have developed

both commitment and trust on the brand page. When both brand page

commitment and trust have been developed, they help to increase the total effects

of emotional value on eWOM intention.

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CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION

This chapter presents a conclusion of this thesis. It draws on the overall findings,

contributions and implications, limitations, and future research directions of this

thesis. The chapter consists of the following sections:

a) Overview of Research Findings;

b) Contributions of this Research; and

c) Limitations and Future Research Directions.

7.1. Overview of Research Findings

This study is one of very few emerging works to empirically investigate the

effectiveness of the new and rapidly growing phenomenon of companies use of

brand pages on social networking sites (SNS). In particular, this thesis has

examined the antecedents and outcomes of customers commitment to, and trust

in, brand pages. We set out to broaden the understanding of what makes

customers develop such commitment and trust, and what the possible outcomes

are. To achieve these objectives, this study has drawn on the Commitment-Trust

Theory (CTT), the Customer Value Theory (CVT), and outcome performance

measures of SNS brand pages. CTT was used to provide a framework for our

study by proposing commitment and trust as central elements of customers

relationships on brand pages. CVT was used to measure customer value

perceptions of brand pages which are then treated as the source of the antecedent

factors to brand page commitment and trust. In terms of performance


150
measurement, this study has considered four customer relationship outcomes

which are frequently discussed in the online brand community literature:

relationship durability, eWOM intention, continued interaction, and functional

conflict.

Our results show that all the relationships between customer values and brand

page commitment and trust are significant, except for the relationship between

functional value and brand page commitment. All the relationships between each

of brand page commitment and trust and relationship outcomes are also

significant. These results confirm the role of customer values in shaping

customers commitment and trust, and their downstream behavioral intentions,

generating important business implications for managers of brand pages.

7.2. Contributions of this Research

There are two major contributions of this thesis:

a) contributions to the theory development; and

b) contributions to the practices.

7.2.1. Contributions to the Theory Development

By proposing and empirically validating an integrated research model, this thesis

offers important contributions to the theory development and future research on

the SNS brand page, social customer relationship management, commitment and

trust, and customer values.

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In the IS field, different models and theories have been adopted to investigate user

behaviors in SNS. Given the growing business implications of SNS, it is

important to develop an integrated framework to understand the core concepts,

antecedents, and outcomes of such practices. This study is a response to the call

for a deeper understanding of the research field on customers perceptions,

attitudes, and behavioral intentions regarding business implications of SNS. In

particular, it focuses on the popular implication of brand page and its online

marketing practices involved in SNS. Brand pages represent a new form of the

information and communication technology that can help companies to connect

better with their customers. There is, therefore, an emerging need for

theory-driven studies to investigate this rapidly growing phenomenon. The current

study sets out to broaden understanding of this domain by applying CTT

(Commitment-Trust Theory) and CVT (Customer Value Theory) as foundations

to empirically investigate the antecedents and outcomes of customers

commitment to, and trust in, brand pages.

Prior studies on the brand page are mostly descriptive and focused on specific

activities, such as topics of contents (Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2011a), customer

interactions (Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2013b), and brand posts (de Vries, et al.,

2012). This thesis adopts a general view of brand page implications, intending to

understand the process of customer relationship development on the brand page.

Such a process perspective is more significant since it sheds light on each stage of

customer relationship on the brand page. The result findings are significant in

promoting a shared understanding of customer relationship development on the

brand page and supporting future researches in this filed. Moreover, by applying

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CTT and CVT in our research, we made significant contributions to these theories

by considering the unique attributes of current research context. This contributes

to theory development and offers insights on the accumulated knowledge of these

theories.

This study contributes to CTT by exploring the antecedents and outcomes of

commitment and trust in the context of brand pages. Although CTT has been

employed in previous IS studies (e.g.,Goo & Huang, 2008; Mukherjee & Nath,

2007), this is one of the first to adopt it in the context of the business implications

of SNS. Given the importance of commitment and trust in shaping customers

attitudes and behaviors, the possibilities for using CTT to investigate the

effectiveness of companies use of brand pages is of great significance.

This research also contributes to CVT in the following ways. Firstly, by

employing CVT in the new context of companies use of SNS, it explores its

generalizability and confirms the importance of customer value perceptions of

brand pages. Secondly, this study includes the three customer values (i.e.,

functional, social, and emotional values) developed in previous works, and

empirically investigates their roles as antecedents of commitment and trust in the

context of brand pages. Our results confirm that most of the dimensions have a

significant impact on brand page commitment and trust, except for the link

between functional value and brand page commitment. Thirdly, this study

contributes to CVT by improving its predictive ability through the exploration of

the contents of each customer value. As highlighted in the results section, the

three customer values explained 66% of customers commitment to brand pages,

and 51% of their trust in brand pages. Indeed, exploring the black boxes of
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customer values has been an issue of concern in past studies (e.g.,Kim, et al., 2011;

Lu & Hsiao, 2010). Based on a thorough literature review, this study has

identified several key constructs that can be used to quantify functional, social,

and emotional values in the specific context of brand pages.

7.2.2. Contributions to the Practices

From a practical perspective, this study provides a guidance for the design,

development, and operation of SNS brand pages. It helps managers to build and

manage strategic plans for sustaining a successful brand page by motivating and

enhancing the sustainable and continued participation and engagement of

customers. For this purpose, the activities on the brand page need to be designed

with a view to support customers in the long term and to guarantee that the

customer values which are important to users will be provided. Since customers

are concerned about the values provided by brand pages, managers need to make

an effort to create and promote desirable value elements for followers.

In particular, our results suggest that functional, social, and emotional value

perceptions have significant impacts on customers commitment to, and trust in,

brand pages. Moreover, our results show that the motivations of ones

commitment are centered on social and emotional values, which surpass the

importance of functional value in brand pages. This indicates that, although brand

pages are originally designed to promote brand-related information to subscribers,

they should deploy more aggressive strategies to increase the perceived social and

emotional values. However, functional value should also be provided because it

serves as a basis for customers to develop confidence in the brand page.


154
In terms of our findings, functional value is significantly related to brand page

trust. In order to improve functional value, managers of brand pages need to focus

on improving the quality (e.g., accuracy, timeliness, and reliability) of the

information they post, and to enhance customers knowledge about the products

and services. Also, monetary rewards are required in order to encourage

customers perceived functional value. More rewards and incentives (e.g.,

coupons and discounts) and sales information should be provided to brand page

followers. It should also be noted that, although our findings indicate that the

functional value of a brand page does not directly influence customers

commitment, it can contribute to it indirectly through its impact on brand page

trust. Built upon the platforms of SNS, brand pages are usually expected to

incorporate more hedonic and social components in enhancing customer

relationships. Based on our results, we conclude that functional value could be

regarded as inherently a part of a brand pages capability (e.g., following it to

receive product information) rather than necessity in the motivation to develop

customers commitment to the brand page.

To encourage the perception of social value, brand page managers need to

facilitate interactions and collaborations among customers. As such, brand page

managers should take active roles in interacting with followers, and also

encourage the interactions among brand page followers by organizing discussions

and activities. Facilitating customers sense of social presence is another

important aspect of social value on the brand page. Customers may treat the brand

page as a community for people who share a similar interest in a certain brand.

The perception of social presence enhances their social wellbeing, and makes

155
them feel a sense of human warmth in the online environment. As proven by Xu

et al. (Xu, et al., 2012), social presence is one of the major reasons that determines

peoples SNS participation.

In order to increase customers perceptions of emotional value, entertainment and

arousal feelings are two key aspects that need to be focused on. Entertaining

experience on the brand page should be facilitated in order to increase customers

positive inner feelings and generate trusting and committing intention. Stimulating

content and activities should also be provided on the brand page in order to

enhance arousal feelings. If customers find reading the content or participating in

conversations on the brand page joyfulness, they will be more likely to develop

deeper commitment and trust. In addition, if customers feel aroused and excited

while engaging with the brand page, they will be more likely to develop a deeper

emotional attachment and keep following it.

The findings of this study can help managers to understand the main relationship

outcomes of customers commitment to, and trust in, brand pages. This will help

to identify the outcomes considered most desirable so as to target them when

developing strategies on the brand page. Our results show that customers

commitment to, and trust in brand pages has a positive influence on the durability

of their relationship, intention to transmit word of mouth, intention to continue the

interaction, and levels of functional conflict. These findings are useful to

managers not only in maintaining relationships with current customers and

followers of their brand page, but also in attracting new and potential customers.

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7.3. Limitations and Future Research Directions

This study has the following limitations which may restrict the generalizability of

the findings, and which could be addressed in future research:

a) limited focus on antecedents of brand page commitment and trust;

b) conceptual views of customer relationship quality on the brand page;

c) conceptualization of second-order constructs;

d) inclusion of negative relationships;

e) cultural differences;

f) industry differences;

g) data collection method; and

h) control variables.

7.3.1. Limited Focus on Relationship Antecedents

The research model proposed in this study focuses only on the impact of customer

values as antecedents of brand page commitment and trust. These three customer

values explain 66% of the variance in brand page commitment and 51% of the

variance in brand page trust. Although these would be considered as high R2

values in the context of IS research, future studies should continue to enrich our

understanding by adding further relevant factors that may lead to an improvement

in customers commitment and trust.

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7.3.2. Conceptual View of Customer Relationship Quality

This study has employed the Commitment-Trust Theory (CTT) mainly to measure

the quality of customers relationship with brand pages using commitment and

trust. However, previous studies indicate that customers relationship quality can

be measured in various ways such. Future research is encouraged to explore other

factors which may further predict the success of brand pages, such as customer

satisfaction, engagement, and involvement.

7.3.3. Conceptualization of Second-order Constructs

This study has conceptualized the three customer values, brand page commitment,

and brand page trust as second-order constructs and explored their measures in

brand page context. We identified the key measures of each second-order

construct through a thorough literature review. However, we must admit that these

measures are not comprehensive ones. Future studies are encouraged to explore

additional constructs of different customer values in different research contexts in

order to provide a more comprehensive understanding of these constructs.

Moreover, future studies are also encouraged to investigate the direct effects of

our proposed first-order constructs on customer attitudes and behaviors in the

context of companies use of SNS in order to provide more substantial

implications.

7.3.4. Inclusion of Negative Relationships

This study only proposed and examined positive relationships among constructs in

158
our research model. However, studies point out that it is also important to

understand negative effects on customer relationship quality (Kilburn, Thieme, &

Boller, 2006). For example, users dissatisfaction with the blog significantly

impacts their intention to switch to another blog service (Zhang, et al., 2009). In

e-commerce, Chang and Fang (2013) found that the low capability of order

fulfilment in shopping websites would lead to customers distrust intention. In the

online brand community, Lee et al. (2014) confirmed that negative emotions

significantly affect customers innovation activities. Based on these observations,

negative relationships related to our focal constructs in the brand page context

would also be important in understanding customers attitudes and behavioral

intentions. Therefore, future studies are encouraged to explore possible negative

relationships on the brand page, and to provide more comprehensive practical

guidance for brand page managers.

7.3.5. Cultural Differences

Although the business implications of SNS are global, this study only addressed

the Chinese geographical context. It may be of beneficial to replicate this study in

a different location and examine any differences in findings. Cross-national

studies are also encouraged, specifically those examining the role of culture in this

context.

7.3.6. Industry Differences

This study has treated and tested the industry type as a control variable, and it was

reported that there is no significant impact of industry type on both brand page
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commitment and trust. However, our study only focused on the generalization of

the industry type, and did not emphasize on the impacts of individual industry

type on brand page commitment and trust. Past studies have suggested some other

classification schemes to differentiate different types of industry. For example,

service factory and mass service are two specific industry types that are different

in the degree of customer customization and labor intensity (Olorunniwo, Hsu, &

Udo, 2006). Future studies could include those industry types as control variables

or moderators in brand page studies in order to gain a deeper understanding of

their individual effects.

7.3.7. Data Collection Method

The data in this study was collected at one point in time, which means that causal

relationships beyond the theoretical hypotheses cannot be established empirically.

Future studies could employ other research designs, such as longitudinal studies,

to examine causal relationships.

7.3.8. Control Variables

This study is limited in only considering four control variables on brand page

commitment and trust. Since we mainly focused on customers attitudes toward

the brand page, we selected brand page tenure and the industry type to which the

company of this brand page belongs as main control variables together with

gender and age. Although we believe that these four factors would account for

most of exogenous influences on the results of this research, we also admit that

there could also be other factors that would impact the generalizability of our
160
result findings. Therefore, future studies are encouraged to discover more control

variables in order to ensure a higher reliability of researches in this context. In

addition, some studies point out that control variables could also be treated as

moderating factors (Sanchez-Franco, et al., 2009; Zweig & Webster, 2003). In this

way, the impacts of control variables would be better understood. Therefore,

future studies are also encouraged to consider different control variables as

moderators and explore their impacts in the context of the brand page.

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180
APPENDIX A

Original Questionnaire

This research aims to investigate the effectiveness of using the brand page in

Microblog for developing and maintaining customer relationships. Your

participation is very important to the success of this research and will be highly

appreciated. I sincerely hope that you could spend a few minutes of your valuable

time to complete the questions in this questionnaire. Your responses in this survey

will be strictly confidential and no information which could reveal your personal

information. The results of this study will only be used for academic purposes.

Thank you very much for your participation in this study.

181
Section 1:

1. Are you aware that you are a follower of the brand page* (brand pages name1)

on Sina Microblog?

1) Yes (Continue the survey, thank you.)

2) No (End of survey, thank you.)

*Brand page: A brand page (also known as a page or fan page) is a profile on a

social networking website which is considered distinct from an actual User profile

in that it is created and managed by a company. Brand pages are usually designed

for the managers to direct messages and posts to subscribing followers and

promote a brand. In Sina Microblog, official brand pages will be marked with a

label of V in blue color. Examples of such brand pages includd @Channel

China, @Nike, @Baidu, and so on.

1
The brand pages name is identified when we have selected a certain follower of a brand page
as the potential participant. When we send invitation to that participant, the brand pages name
will be filled in accordingly.
182
Section 2:

Please indicate the ratio to which agree with the following statements according to
your perception of the above mentioned brand page that you are following.

A. Functional value of the brand page:


Strongly Strongly
Disagree Neutral Agree
disagree agree
1. I find the information on this brand 1 2 3 4 5
page to be valuable.
2. I think this brand page is a 1 2 3 4 5
valuable information resource.
3. There is unique information value
1 2 3 4 5
on this brand page.
4. Following this brand page
enhances my knowledge of the 1 2 3 4 5
product and its usage.
5. Following this brand page helps
me to obtain solutions to specific 1 2 3 4 5
product-related problems.
6. Following this brand page
enhances my knowledge about 1 2 3 4 5
advances in the product, related
products, and technology.
7. Following this brand page helps 1 2 3 4 5
me to get bonuses.
8. Following this brand page helps 1 2 3 4 5
me to participate in lotteries.
9. Following this brand page helps 1 2 3 4 5
me to get better services.
10. Following this brand page helps 1 2 3 4 5
me to get fast responses.

B. Social value of the brand page:


Strongly Strongly
Disagree Neutral Agree
disagree agree
11. Other members are very
responsive to my posts on this 1 2 3 4 5
brand page.
12. I can always count on getting a
lot of responses to my posts on 1 2 3 4 5
this brand page
13. I can always count on getting
responses to my posts on this 1 2 3 4 5
brand page fairly quickly.
14. On this brand page, I can help 1 2 3 4 5
other users.
15. On this brand page, I can get help 1 2 3 4 5
from other users.
16. On this brand page, I can provide 1 2 3 4 5
information to other users.
17. On this brand page, I can share 1 2 3 4 5
my ideas with other users.
18. There is a sense of human contact 1 2 3 4 5
on this brand page.
19. There is a sense of personalness 1 2 3 4 5
183
on this brand page.
20. There is a sense of human 1 2 3 4 5
warmth on this brand page.

C. Emotional value of the brand page:


Strongly Strongly
Disagree Neutral Agree
disagree agree
21. I think this brand page is very 1 2 3 4 5
entertaining.
22. The content of this brand page is 1 2 3 4 5
eye-catching and picks me up.
23. Following this brand page 1 2 3 4 5
entertains me.
24. Conversations on this brand page
1 2 3 4 5
make me feel excited.
25. Conversations on this brand page 1 2 3 4 5
make me feel stimulated
26. Conversations on this brand page 1 2 3 4 5
make me feel aroused.

D. Trust in the brand page:


Strongly Strongly
Disagree Neutral Agree
disagree agree
27. I think that the information offered 1 2 3 4 5
by this brand page is sincere.
28. I think that the information offered 1 2 3 4 5
by this brand page is honest.
29. This brand page does not make 1 2 3 4 5
false statements.
30. I think that the information offered 1 2 3 4 5
by this brand page is trustworthy.
31. I can talk freely to the members of
this brand page about 1 2 3 4 5
product-related issues.
32. If I share my problems with
members on this brand page, I
1 2 3 4 5
know they will respond
constructively and caringly.
33. I know most members on this
brand page will do everything 1 2 3 4 5
within their capacity to help
others.
34. I know most members on this 1 2 3 4 5
brand page are honest.

E. Commitment to the brand page:


Strongly Strongly
Disagree Neutral Agree
disagree agree
35. I feel like a part of the group on 1 2 3 4 5
this brand page.
36. I have a real emotional attachment 1 2 3 4 5
to this brand page.
37. I feel a strong sense of belonging 1 2 3 4 5
to this brand page.
38. I feel a strong connection to this 1 2 3 4 5
brand page.
39. I am sure that there are no other 1 2 3 4 5
184
brand pages where I could find the
same content and experience that I
get on this one.
40. There are very few other places
where I could find the kind of 1 2 3 4 5
useful content that I get from this
brand page.
41. The content of this brand page is
too valuable for me to stop 1 2 3 4 5
following it.

F. Customer relationship outcomes on the brand page:


Strongly Strongly
Disagree Neutral Agree
disagree agree
42. I intend to continue being a
follower of this brand rather than 1 2 3 4 5
discontinue.
43. My intention is to continue 1 2 3 4 5
following this brand page.
44. If I can, I would like to continue 1 2 3 4 5
being a follower of this brand page.
45. I would like to introduce the
company of this brand page to 1 2 3 4 5
others on Microblog.
46. I would like to recommend the
company of this brand page to 1 2 3 4 5
others on Microblog.
47. I would like to say positive words
about the company of this brand 1 2 3 4 5
page to others on Microblog.
48. I would like to suggest new ideas
for product or service marketing 1 2 3 4 5
plans to the company of this brand
page.
49. I would like to suggest my opinions
of product development to the 1 2 3 4 5
company of this brand page.
50. I would like to actively participate 1 2 3 4 5
in discussions on this brand page.
51. I would like to provide my opinion
on product-related problems and
1 2 3 4 5
improvement methods to the
company of this brand.
52. I believe that dissatisfactions
between me and the company of 1 2 3 4 5
this brand page will be successfully
resolved.
53. I believe that dissatisfactions
between me and the company of 1 2 3 4 5
this brand page will be resolved to
our mutual satisfaction.
54. I believe that the discussions I have
with the company of this brand
page on areas of disagreement 1 2 3 4 5
increase the effectiveness and
strength of our relationship.

185
Section 3:

Please answer the following questions according to your own information.


1What is your gender?
Female Male
2What is your age?
<18 18-28 28-38 > 39
3What is your educational level?
Secondary and high school Diploma or relative course
Bachelors degree Masters degree or above
4How many days on average do you use Microblog per week
0-1 day 2-3 days 4-5 days 6-7 days
5How long have you been using Sina Microblog
less than 6 months 6 months 1year
1year-1.5 years more than 1.5 years
6How long have you been following this brand page on Sina Microblog
less than 6 months 6 months 1year
1year-1.5 years more than 1.5 years
7How frequently on average do you post on this brand page
Never one time per month one time per week
2-6 times per week one time everyday several times per day
8 About how many brand pages have your followed on Sina Microblog
<5 5-10 10-15 >15
End of survey. Thanks for your participation!

186
APPENDIX B

Scrambled Questionnaire

This research aims to investigate the effectiveness of using the brand page in

Microblog for developing and maintaining customer relationships. Your

participation is very important to the success of this research and will be highly

appreciated. I sincerely hope that you could spend a few minutes of your valuable

time to complete the questions in this questionnaire. Your responses in this survey

will be strictly confidential and no information which could reveal your personal

information. The results of this study will only be used for academic purposes.

Thank you very much for your participation in this study.

187
Section 1:

2. Are you aware that you are a follower of the brand page* (brand pages name2)

on Sina Microblog?

3) Yes (Continue the survey, thank you.)

4) No (End of survey, thank you.)

*Brand page: A brand page (also known as a page or fan page) is a profile on a

social networking website which is considered distinct from an actual User profile

in that it is created and managed by a company. Brand pages are usually designed

for the managers to direct messages and posts to subscribing followers and

promote a brand. In Sina Microblog, official brand pages will be marked with a

label of V in blue color. Examples of such brand pages includd @Channel

China, @Nike, @Baidu, and so on.

2
The brand pages name is identified when we have selected a certain follower of a
brand page as the potential participant. When we send invitation to that participant, the
brand pages name will be filled in accordingly.
188
Section 2:

Please indicate the ratio to which agree with the following statements according to

your perception of the above mentioned brand page that you are following.

Strongly Strongly
Disagree Neutral Agree
disagree agree
1. On this brand page, I can help other
1 2 3 4 5
users.
2. On this brand page, I can get help from
1 2 3 4 5
other users.
3. On this brand page, I can provide
1 2 3 4 5
information to other users.
4. On this brand page, I can share my
1 2 3 4 5
ideas with other users.
5. There is a sense of human contact on
1 2 3 4 5
this brand page.
6. There is a sense of personalness on this
1 2 3 4 5
brand page.
7. There is a sense of human warmth on
1 2 3 4 5
this brand page.
8. I find the information on this brand
1 2 3 4 5
page to be valuable.
9. I think this brand page is a valuable
1 2 3 4 5
information resource.
10. There is unique information value on
1 2 3 4 5
this brand page.
11. Following this brand page helps me to
1 2 3 4 5
get bonuses.
12. Following this brand page helps me to
1 2 3 4 5
participate in lotteries.
13. Following this brand page helps me to
1 2 3 4 5
get better services.
14. Following this brand page helps me to
1 2 3 4 5
get fast responses.
15. I think that the information offered by
1 2 3 4 5
this brand page is sincere.
16. I think that the information offered by
1 2 3 4 5
this brand page is honest.
17. This brand page does not make false
1 2 3 4 5
statements.
18. I think that the information offered by
1 2 3 4 5
this brand page is trustworthy.
19. I think this brand page is very
entertaining
20. The content of this brand page is
1 2 3 4 5
eye-catching and picks me up.
21. Following this brand page entertains
1 2 3 4 5
me.

189
Strongly Strongly
Disagree Neutral Agree
disagree agree
22. Conversations on this brand page make
1 2 3 4 5
me feel excited.
23. Conversations on this brand page make
1 2 3 4 5
me feel stimulated
24. Conversations on this brand page make
1 2 3 4 5
me feel aroused.
25. I intend to continue being a follower of
1 2 3 4 5
this brand rather than discontinue.
26. My intention is to continue following
1 2 3 4 5
this brand page.
27. If I can, I would like to continue being
1 2 3 4 5
a follower of this brand page.
28. Following this brand page enhances
my knowledge of the product and its 1 2 3 4 5
usage.
29. Following this brand page helps me to
obtain solutions to specific 1 2 3 4 5
product-related problems.
30. Following this brand page enhances
my knowledge about advances in the
1 2 3 4 5
product, related products, and
technology.
31. Other members are very responsive to
1 2 3 4 5
my posts on this brand page.
32. I can always count on getting a lot of
responses to my posts on this brand 1 2 3 4 5
page
33. I can always count on getting
responses to my posts on this brand 1 2 3 4 5
page fairly quickly.
34. I would like to introduce the company
of this brand page to others on 1 2 3 4 5
Microblog.
35. I would like to recommend the
company of this brand page to others 1 2 3 4 5
on Microblog.
36. I would like to say positive words
about the company of this brand page 1 2 3 4 5
to others on Microblog.
37. I would like to suggest new ideas for
product or service marketing plans to 1 2 3 4 5
the company of this brand page.
38. I would like to suggest my opinions of
product development to the company 1 2 3 4 5
of this brand page.
39. I can talk freely to the members of this
brand page about product-related 1 2 3 4 5
issues.
40. If I share my problems with members
on this brand page, I know they will 1 2 3 4 5
respond constructively and caringly.

190
Strongly Strongly
Disagree Neutral Agree
disagree agree
41. I know most members on this brand
page will do everything within their 1 2 3 4 5
capacity to help others.
42. I know most members on this brand
1 2 3 4 5
page are honest.
43. I feel like a part of the group on this
1 2 3 4 5
brand page.
44. I have a real emotional attachment to
1 2 3 4 5
this brand page.
45. I would like to actively participate in
1 2 3 4 5
discussions on this brand page.
46. I would like to provide my opinion on
product-related problems and
1 2 3 4 5
improvement methods to the company
of this brand.
47. I feel a strong sense of belonging to
1 2 3 4 5
this brand page.
48. I feel a strong connection to this brand
1 2 3 4 5
page.
49. I am sure that there are no other brand
pages where I could find the same
1 2 3 4 5
content and experience that I get on
this one.
50. There are very few other places where
I could find the kind of useful content 1 2 3 4 5
that I get from this brand page.
51. The content of this brand page is too
1 2 3 4 5
valuable for me to stop following it.
52. I believe that dissatisfactions between
me and the company of this brand 1 2 3 4 5
page will be successfully resolved.
53. I believe that dissatisfactions between
me and the company of this brand
1 2 3 4 5
page will be resolved to our mutual
satisfaction.
54. I believe that the discussions I have
with the company of this brand page
on areas of disagreement increase the 1 2 3 4 5
effectiveness and strength of our
relationship.

191
Section 3:
Please answer the following questions according to your own information.
3What is your gender?
Female Male
4What is your age?
<18 18-28 28-38 > 39

3What is your educational level?

Secondary and high school Diploma or relative course


Bachelors degree Masters degree or above
4How many days on average do you use Microblog per week

0-1 day 2-3 days 4-5 days 6-7 days

5How long have you been using Sina Microblog

less than 6 months 6 months 1year


1year-1year and a half more than 1year and a half
6How long have you been following this brand page on Sina Microblog

less than 6 months 6 months 1year


1year-1year and a half more than 1year and a half

7How frequently on average do you post on this brand page

Never one time per month one time per week


2-6 times per week one time everyday several times per day
8 About how many brand pages have your followed on Sina Microblog

<5 5-10 10-15 >15


End of survey. Thanks for your participation!

192
CURRICULUM VITAE

Academic qualifications of the thesis author, Ms. SHI Si:

Received the degree of Bachelor of Management from Renmin University of

China, June 2011.

August 2014

193