Raising the Cohesion and Vitality of Online Communities by Reducing Privacy Concerns

Yu Pan, Yan Wan, Jing Fan, Bailing Liu, and Norm Archer
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 21, Number 2, 2016-17, pp. 151-183.


How can the cohesion and vitality of an online community be improved through online privacy management and security policy advocacy? This has long been a goal of service providers and online group managers. However, previous studies have rarely explored the subject of group privacy concerns and their effect on group impression management. This study focuses on how to improve the cohesion and vitality of online communities by reducing group privacy concerns, based on promotive and protective group impression management methods. Two studies were carried out in this research: Study 1 explores the impact of group impression management on the cognition of group member privacy concerns, by means of survey research. Study 2 explores how group impression management affects group privacy behavior, by means of experimental research. The research reveals that group impression management can effectively improve group trust, reduce group privacy concerns, and enhance group cohesion and vitality. It also finds that promotive group impression management is better than protective group impression management at positively improving group trust and reducing group privacy concerns. These results can be used by the operators of online communities to reduce the privacy concerns of group members and to increase their involvement in online activities.

Key Words and Phrases: Community vitality, group cohesion, group privacy concern, group vitality, online community, online community privacy, promotive group impression management, protective group impression management.