Document Type: Research Paper
In recent years, virtual communities have been significantly popular and almost all of them are targeted for business profitability. In our study, the profitability of these communities for businesses has been analyzed from a commercial perspective. The study considers virtual community as a business model which can have a great impact on consumer purchase decision process. With respect to reference groups and word-of-mouth recommendations in virtual communities, contributing factors have been detected and a model of impacts and relationships between these factors has been presented. Hypotheses of the mentioned model are evaluated by making use of a questionnaire completed by 110 members of virtual communities. Using AMOS program and path analysis method, statistical analysis of received responses showed that factors such as virtual community's information quality, trust between people, sense of belonging, virtual community members’ perceived benefit and members’ permeability are effective to different degrees, and there is no significant relationship between social identity of members and their permeability.