The Impact of Tie Strength on Continuance Intention of Second-Generation Mobile Instant Messaging Services: An Expectation-Confirmation Perspective

關係強度對第二代移動即時通訊軟件用戶持續使用意向的影響: 基於期望確認理論視角

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Award date19 Dec 2016


Widespread penetration of digital networks and computing appliances has brought about substantial changes to the personal communication arena in recent times (Barry & Fulmer, 2004). For instance, an expanding variety of electronic applications (generally known as “apps”) are altering communication behavior in different situations in an emergent manner, albeit in different ways. Meanwhile, individuals are adaptively utilizing the underlying features of a vast variety of electronic applications on computers or cellphones, conducting technology-mediated communication and seeking mutual influence (Barry & Fulmer, 2004).

Among the plethora of media becoming available for communication purposes, mobile instant messaging (MIM) via smartphones is being widely adopted by individuals as a channel for interpersonal communication. MIM has now evolved from first-generation mobile instant messaging (FMIM) to second-generation mobile instant messaging (SMIM). Typically, FMIM such as short message services (SMS) are services that direct at symbolic meanings exchange (Tan et al., 2014), whereas SMIM has the social attributes that enable users to conduct real-time information delivery and multimedia transmission. In general, communication in SMIM is enriched and attracted by exaggerating numerous and diverse attributes on the basis of FMIM.

As a new structure for social media, second-generation mobile instant messaging (SMIM) benefits from the proliferation of smartphones such as the iPhone. Smartphones are portal devices that provide platforms for media capture, motion detection, accurate global positioning, mobility and ubiquitous access (Pitt et al., 2011). They are equipped with reinforced processing ability and can function approximately as personal computers (Sutanto et al., 2013). SMIM develops by the facilitation of smartphones. It is embedded within social networks and support flexible, vivid communication. The rising affordability of SMIM is influencing the ways individuals enact and regulate their interactions. However, the continued use of SMIM services has come under threat owing to the raised concerns resulting from the personalization-privacy paradox (Sutanto et al., 2013), information security (Bønes et al., 2007), and the increasingly ferocious competition in the industry. Since a sound customer base is essential for their prospects and survival, many service providers and relevant stakeholders are getting worried (Zhou et al., 2012).

Although the continuance intention of social media evolves into a mature research topic, it may be noted that most previous research has tended to deemphasize the role of tie strength in the continued development of MIM. Tie strength is a social network configuration. Although it is widely assumed to play a critical role in the effectiveness of personal communication (Oh et al., 2013), its role as a factor in SMIM-based communication has so far remained largely unexplored, both conceptually and empirically.

This paper incorporates the effect of tie strength and extends the expectation-confirmation theory (ECT). Based on the theoretical inferences and an empirical analysis, the present work investigates the precursors (i.e., satisfaction, tie strength, confirmation of values, and perceived critical mass) of continuance intention and proposes a continuance intention model that is particularly applicable in the unique context of SMIM.

To validate the conceptual framework proposed, an empirical survey of a set of SMIM users in China was conducted with the help of a professional data collection company. Eventually, 299 SMIM users were accepted for final analysis. The data were analyzed by using the Partial Least Square (PLS) technique. Upon testing the measurement model and structural model, it could be confirmed that most of the hypotheses were supported.

The results reveal that continuance intention of SMIM services is influenced jointly by tie strength, satisfaction, and perceived critical mass. To crystalize, tie strength moderates the relationship between satisfaction and continuance intention and is highly correlated with the confirmation of social values. With regard to satisfaction, it arises from the confirmation of three values (i.e., social values, hedonic values, and utilitarian values) and acts as the catalyzer of continuance intention, along with the effect of perceived critical mass.

This study has made several theoretical and practical contributions. In terms of theory, this study has expanded our understanding of SMIM continuance intention by building and validating a theory-bound conceptual framework, which extends the expectation-confirmation theory by integrating the moderating effect of tie strength. In terms of practice, this study has explored the underpinning mechanisms of SMIM continuance intention by identifying the vital role of tie strength and identifying the essential contributors. This investigation has offered unique useful insights into SMIM that should be useful to SMIM practitioners in retaining SMIM users.

    Research areas

  • tie strength, social network, expectation-confirmation theory, continuance intention, second-generation mobile instant messaging