Opinion leaders can be defined as those who exert an unequal amount of influence on the decision of others. Two approaches for identifying opinion leadership have been i) to explicitly ask people to identify the personal sources from which they would accept advice and analyze the reasons behind such behavior, and ii) to identify the social relations between users in the social network in which the opinion leaders are embedded, and analyze the opinion leadership qualities based on the structural characteristics. However, there is very little research that really integrates the two approaches. This paper develops a theoretical framework of opinion leadership by integrating the structural and the personal indicators. We propose that, in addition to the personal characteristics of opinion leaders such as expertise and benevolence, there are structural characteristics of the social network to which they belong, which further impacts opinion leadership. These structural characteristics may stem from direct ties between users that emanates from the position of the opinion leader within the network (degree centrality), or indirect ties resulting from contacts established outside of the immediate network. Such indirect ties relate to the relationships between networks (betweenness centrality). We conducted a survey to test the research model and plan to use structural equation model to analyze the data. The results will have implications for theory and practice in the arena of opinion leadership.
|Title of host publication
|Proceedings of the 6th Workshop on e-Business (WeB)
|Number of pages
|Published - 2007