Chinese Online Communities: Balancing Management Control and Individual Autonomy

Existing studies of online social communities mainly focus on communities in the United States. Since Chinese social beliefs and behaviors largely differ from that of Americans, we hypothesize that Chinese online communities also greatly differ from their U.S. counterparts. In particular, we believe that Chinese online communities must balance management control and individual autonomy to accommodate both Chinese tradition and the social nature of online societies. In this paper, we present three studies to validate our hypothesis. First, we use a structured observation (Study I) to examine community governance practices of 32 Chinese and American social sites. Based on the identified community governance practices, we use a cross-cultural survey of 208 Chinese and Americans (Study II) to learn about their behavior and attitude toward these practices. Finally, we interview 38 Chinese users (Study III) to help us further understand how Chinese online communities balance the needs of management and users. Not only do the studies confirm our hypothesis, but they also help us abstract two key design implications of social software to meet the needs of Chinese.

By: Qin Ying Liao; Ying Xin Pan; Michelle Zhou

Published in: RC24919 in 2009


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