PhD defence: Online communities for customer support

PhD Defense

1 June 2015 13:08

(updated: 25 February 2016 13:13)

PhD defence: Online communities for customer support

On Friday 12 June 2015 Njål Sivertstøl will hold a trial lecture on a prescribed topic and defend his thesis "Online Communities for Customer Support: A Study of Participation and its antecedents".

The dissertation studies consumers' participation in online communities for customer support. Based on a literature review, four ways in which consumers participate in such communities are identified: help seeking, help giving, participating in reflective reframing, and conducting reinforcing activities. An exploratory study of two online communities for customer support enables the identification of items measuring the four forms of participation. The items are statistically validated.

Out of 169 antecedents of participation in online communities, established research has found six significant for participation in online communities for customer support. As part of the exploratory study, anonymity is identified as a possible additional antecedent. Structural equation modeling (SEM) analyses are conducted to test how these seven antecedents influence participation in online communities.

The analyses show that four of the antecedents are significant, and that these antecedents influence the four forms of participation differently. Expectations about achieving hedonic benefits influence people to give help and to perform reinforcing activities. Prospects to achieve learning benefits influence consumers to seek for help, and expectations about earning personal integrative benefits influence people to give help. Expectations about social integrative benefits influence all four forms of participation.

The exploratory study suggests that companies might facilitate social integrative benefits and personal integrative benefits and in this way indirectly stimulate participation in the community.

Based on mediation checks, personal integrative benefits are found to fully mediate the relation between personal integrative benefits facilitators and help giving. This indicates that a company can indirectly stimulate people to give help by facilitating personal integrative benefits. The mediation checks also reveal that social integrative benefits fully mediate the relationships between friendship with company employees and all four forms of participation. Accordingly, companies can stimulate all four forms of participation indirectly by building friendships with the consumers in the support community.

Prescribed topic for the trial lecture

"Explaining why consumers participate in online communities: Overview of the literature and implications for managers"

Time and place

Trial lecture: 10:15 in Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Centre, NHH
Defense: 12:15 in Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Centre, NHH

Members of the evaluation committee

Professor Magne Supphellen, Norwegian School of Economics
Professor John Schouten, Aalto University
Professor Andrea Hemetsberger, University of Innsbruck

Supervising committee

Professor Ingeborg Astrid Kleppe, Norwegian School of Economicsse environment