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An Invisible Leverage in the Adoption of Online Social Support Community
Unformatted Document Text:  Running Head: Invisible Leverage in Adoption of Online Social Support Community 10 members exchange informational as well as emotional social support, the tie is multiplex (Wellman, 1981). Researchers operationalize tie strength in various ways (Marsden and Campbell, 1984). It can be measured in combinations of intimacy, self-disclosure, provision of reciprocal services as well as frequent contact. Multiplexity may also be included in the combinations. While there is some evidence that stronger ties provide more social support, weaker ties often provide more diverse support (Granovetter, 1973). Very often, reciprocity (or symmetry) is also included to measure tie strength. Asymmetric ties are more common findings in social support studies (Wellman, 1979). The imbalance becomes more apparent when types of social support are taken into consideration. That is, a network member may give information support and receive emotional social support in return. This study proposes that all these network structural characteristics affect potential participants’ OSSC adoption decision as network resources. As shown in previous research in social support network, it seems that there exist some optimal levels in the degree of each network characteristic in maximizing social support in a network. The study, therefore, intends to find the optimal levels in OSSC. The optimal levels of network characteristics are maintained through the natural process of discontinuance in OSSC adoption as shown in Figure 1. The model suggests that the optimal level cannot be maintained if all OSSC adopters remain as active participants. Once an OSSC exceeds its optimal level, an invisible leverage operates to return to the level. Some members may discontinue or return to lurking because they feel uncomfortable with the increase, they meet off-line instead, or they are healed and do not need social support anymore. This tendency will be more apparent in emotional social support than in informational. OSSCs primarily for emotional social support such as mental illnesses will be more likely to show this tendency. Meanwhile, this excess will attract more new participants asking for social support since they will view this excess as more likely to satisfy social support. Adoption of OSSC The diffusion theory defines rejection and discontinuance as well as adoption (Rogers, 1995). Adoption refers to a decision to make full use of an innovation as the best course of action available, rejection to a decision not to adopt an innovation, and discontinuance to a decision to reject an innovation after it has previously been adopted. Few studies have been devoted to the study of rejection or discontinuance while a majority of studies have examined adoption in

Authors: Yun, Haejin., Park, Songyi. and Kim, Hee-Jung.
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Running Head: Invisible Leverage in Adoption of Online Social Support Community
10
members exchange informational as well as emotional social support, the tie is multiplex
(Wellman, 1981). Researchers operationalize tie strength in various ways (Marsden and
Campbell, 1984). It can be measured in combinations of intimacy, self-disclosure, provision of
reciprocal services as well as frequent contact. Multiplexity may also be included in the
combinations. While there is some evidence that stronger ties provide more social support,
weaker ties often provide more diverse support (Granovetter, 1973). Very often, reciprocity (or
symmetry) is also included to measure tie strength. Asymmetric ties are more common findings
in social support studies (Wellman, 1979). The imbalance becomes more apparent when types
of social support are taken into consideration. That is, a network member may give information
support and receive emotional social support in return.
This study proposes that all these network structural characteristics affect potential
participants’ OSSC adoption decision as network resources. As shown in previous research in
social support network, it seems that there exist some optimal levels in the degree of each
network characteristic in maximizing social support in a network. The study, therefore, intends
to find the optimal levels in OSSC. The optimal levels of network characteristics are maintained
through the natural process of discontinuance in OSSC adoption as shown in Figure 1. The
model suggests that the optimal level cannot be maintained if all OSSC adopters remain as active
participants. Once an OSSC exceeds its optimal level, an invisible leverage operates to return to
the level. Some members may discontinue or return to lurking because they feel uncomfortable
with the increase, they meet off-line instead, or they are healed and do not need social support
anymore. This tendency will be more apparent in emotional social support than in informational.
OSSCs primarily for emotional social support such as mental illnesses will be more likely to
show this tendency. Meanwhile, this excess will attract more new participants asking for social
support since they will view this excess as more likely to satisfy social support.
Adoption of OSSC
The diffusion theory defines rejection and discontinuance as well as adoption (Rogers,
1995). Adoption refers to a decision to make full use of an innovation as the best course of action
available, rejection to a decision not to adopt an innovation, and discontinuance to a decision to
reject an innovation after it has previously been adopted. Few studies have been devoted to the
study of rejection or discontinuance while a majority of studies have examined adoption in


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