Empirical Investigation on Relational Social Capital in a Virtual Community for Website Programming

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

3 Scopus Citations
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  • Chuan Hoo TAN
  • Juliana SUTANTO
  • Bernard C. Y. TAN

Related Research Unit(s)


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43 - 60
Journal / PublicationData Base for Advances in Information Systems
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


A virtual community of interest has a specific and narrow topic of discussion. Therefore, these communities attract registered members who are focused on knowledge sharing. The current research examines whether network ties, which are an aspect of structural social capital that can be categorized into strong and weak social ties, can provide a non-trivial explanation for members' trust, reciprocity, and identification in a virtual community for website programming interest. This relationship enables us to examine a context in which members share a common goal of resolving programming problems through knowledge sharing in contrast with other community settings where only general topics are discussed (e.g., societal and emotional issues). Data were collected through a survey of a virtual community for website programming composed of 69 members. Affirming conventional perception, results of the study indicate that weak ties affect the level of generalized trust and facilitate group identification. Remarkably, the number of members' strong ties is not significantly related to the degree of their perceived norms regarding generalized reciprocity. Reciprocity refers to a mutual expectation that a benefit granted at present should be repaid in the future. The results suggest two key points. First, even for a virtual community of interest, weak ties overshadow strong ties in explaining the outcome variables. Second, reciprocity is not guaranteed even in a focused form of discussion with a non-social topic that involves specialized knowledge. Therefore, virtual community members should be cautious even if ties are strong. Overall, results imply that virtual community administrators, particularly those who manage specialized communities, should be attentive to the strong and weak ties that exist among the community members.

Research Area(s)

  • Identification, Reciprocity, Social ties, Trust, Virtual community