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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 5 looks for community-level factors rather than individual-level ones to explain why certain OSSCs are popular than others. The main research question of the study is what community factors affect OSSC participation and how such factors relate to each other in explaining OSSC participation. Diffusion Theory and OSSC Participation The present study intends to depart from the current research focus on differences between OSSC and traditional social support groups by examining how people choose in which OSSC they participate and how they decide if they stay in their current OSSC among hundreds of other possible choices. For this purpose, the study employs the diffusion theory. Applying the diffusion terminology, each OSSC is an innovation and participating in a certain OSSC is the adoption of the OSSC. A great many OSSCs as innovations compete for adoption by potential participants. One of the merits to apply the diffusion theory in the present study is the concept of relative advantage. The theory lists relative advantage as one of innovation attributes that determine the rate of adoption of innovations. Relative advantage refers to the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being better than the idea it supersedes (Rogers, 1995). But, how is the innovation better than its predecessor? Dearing and Meyer (1994) divided relative advantage into economic advantage and effectiveness. Effectiveness refers to the degree to which an innovation is more capable in achieving an ideal end-state than the previous innovation. Potential adopters of OSSC usually do not actively participate from the beginning. They tend to lurk or post trial messages in multiple OSSCs for a certain period of time to see which OSSC can best serve their need for social support. Through this trial period, potential adopters finally decide in which OSSC(s) to participate or just to remain as lurkers. Lurkers as potential adopters do not participate in any OSSC until they perceive a particular OSSC’s relative advantage over other OSSCs as well as their face-to-face interpersonal networks. Since OSSC participation involves no cost, relative advantage of an OSSC depends solely on effectiveness. The ideal end-state is participants’ satisfied need for social support. Relative advantages increase the adoption rate. The more relative advantages of an innovation potential adopters perceive, the more likely they are to adopt it. The adoption process in OSSC, however, does not stop in this unidirectional causation. The increased adoption

Authors: Yun, Haejin., Park, Songyi. and Kim, Hee-Jung.
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Running Head: Invisible Leverage in Adoption of Online Social Support Community
5
looks for community-level factors rather than individual-level ones to explain why certain
OSSCs are popular than others. The main research question of the study is what community
factors affect OSSC participation and how such factors relate to each other in explaining OSSC
participation.
Diffusion Theory and OSSC Participation
The present study intends to depart from the current research focus on differences
between OSSC and traditional social support groups by examining how people choose in which
OSSC they participate and how they decide if they stay in their current OSSC among hundreds
of other possible choices. For this purpose, the study employs the diffusion theory.
Applying the diffusion terminology, each OSSC is an innovation and participating in a
certain OSSC is the adoption of the OSSC. A great many OSSCs as innovations compete for
adoption by potential participants. One of the merits to apply the diffusion theory in the present
study is the concept of relative advantage. The theory lists relative advantage as one of
innovation attributes that determine the rate of adoption of innovations. Relative advantage
refers to the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being better than the idea it
supersedes (Rogers, 1995). But, how is the innovation better than its predecessor? Dearing and
Meyer (1994) divided relative advantage into economic advantage and effectiveness.
Effectiveness refers to the degree to which an innovation is more capable in achieving an ideal
end-state than the previous innovation.
Potential adopters of OSSC usually do not actively participate from the beginning. They
tend to lurk or post trial messages in multiple OSSCs for a certain period of time to see which
OSSC can best serve their need for social support. Through this trial period, potential adopters
finally decide in which OSSC(s) to participate or just to remain as lurkers. Lurkers as potential
adopters do not participate in any OSSC until they perceive a particular OSSC’s relative
advantage over other OSSCs as well as their face-to-face interpersonal networks. Since OSSC
participation involves no cost, relative advantage of an OSSC depends solely on effectiveness.
The ideal end-state is participants’ satisfied need for social support.
Relative advantages increase the adoption rate. The more relative advantages of an
innovation potential adopters perceive, the more likely they are to adopt it. The adoption process
in OSSC, however, does not stop in this unidirectional causation. The increased adoption


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