Effects of Peers and Network Position on User Participation in a Firm-Hosted Software Community: The Moderating Role of Network Centrality

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Taylor & Francis

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European Journal of Information Systems

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Customers have become co-creators of value in software development and improvement. The intensifying integration of social networks and online communities requires an understanding of social influence on user participation. Drawing upon social capital theory, we studied the influence of peers and network position on user participation in a firm-hosted software community. Based on an analysis of longitudinal data on the knowledge seeking and knowledge contribution behaviours of 2,192 users, we found that an individual’s quantity of friends’ participation is positively related to his or her participation. The source credibility from expert friends’ participation negatively affects user participation. We especially found that network centrality which depicts an individual’s relative position in the network significantly moderates the effects of peers. Interestingly, closeness centrality and betweenness centrality exert different moderating effects on the peer effects. Closeness centrality strengthens the influence of friends’ participation on knowledge seeking but has no effect on knowledge contribution. Betweenness centrality does not affect the effects of friends’ participation. The effects of source credibility from expert friends are weaker for users with lower closeness centrality and higher betweenness centrality. This study yields a better understanding of social influence on user participation and provides insights for software community managers.


European Journal of Information Systems, Vol. 29, No. 5 (July 2020): 521-544. DOI.