Author: Mehraliyev, Fuad
Title: Social media power in tourism and hospitality : theoretical foundations and empirical evidence
Advisors: Choi, Youngjoon (SHTM)
King, Brian (SHTM)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2019
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Social Media
Tourism -- Marketing
Hospitality industry -- Marketing
Department: School of Hotel and Tourism Management
Pages: ix, 181 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: The power of social media in hospitality and tourism has grown exponentially. A consensus exists between the academia and industry regarding the role of social media platforms as powerful stakeholders, but no study has conceptualized the power attributed to social media. Therefore, the development of theory to explain the extent of social media power in hospitality and tourism is important and timely. The rationale of this thesis is to bridge the aforementioned knowledge gap. First, this thesis synthesizes fundamental discourses in power using media effect theories to propose a hierarchical model to convey the exercise of social media power (Chapter 2). The researcher identifies definitions and sources of social media power at different levels of the power pyramid, and attributes triggers to technological mechanisms. The empirical component of this thesis focuses on the two most salient sources of power: expert power (Chapter 3) and reward power (Chapter 4). In Chapter 3, the focus is on testing the psychological effect of expert power in the case of social media platforms (influencer) and the interaction effects with the power of users (influenced) by applying referent theory to social media power. Two expert power attributes, namely, experience and specialization, are conceptualized based on deliberate practice theory. A 2 × 2 × 2 between-subjects experiment identifies a significant three-way interaction effect among platform specialization, platform experience, and user power on perceived information-task-fit. Platform specialization affects perceived information-task-fit when the platform has low experience and users are powerful. Perceived information-task-fit mediates the conditional effect of specialization on intention to use. In Chapter 4, the psychological effect of reward power is tested. The reward power of social media platforms is conceptualized as their ability to provide the lowest available prices. The psychological mechanism of the two functions that promise lowest price, namely, best price guarantee and price comparison functions, are also evaluated. In particular, the second study hypothesizes the interaction effect between the reward power of social media platforms and the power of users. A 2 × 2 × 2 between-subjects experiment is conducted. A significant three-way interaction effect is found among best price guarantee, price comparison, and user power on perceived transaction value. It is found that best price guarantee affects perceived transaction value when the platform has no price comparison function and users are powerful. Perceived transaction value mediates the conditional effect of best price guarantee on intention to use. The valuable theoretical and managerial implications of each study are provided, and then the common features of the working mechanisms of the reward power and expert power of social media platforms are discussed to reveal their pattern. This thesis answers a number of crucial research questions while introducing additional questions by applying what is regarded as the most fundamental concept in social sciences — power — to social media discourses in tourism and hospitality.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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