Conflict management in online consumption communities

  • Denitsa Petrova Dineva

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The domain of conflict management in online consumption communities is undertheorised. Existing studies mainly focus on the nature and outcomes of aggressive consumer-to-consumer online communication (here referred to as ‘consumer-toconsumer (C2C) conflicts’), while neglecting whether and how such conflicts should be managed. Therefore, the first objective of this research project was to propose an empirically tested typology of conflict management strategies used by organisations in their online consumption communities on Facebook. The second objective of the project was to gain an understanding of the effectiveness of the identified conflict management strategies. This was done via a mixed-methods approach whereby the first two qualitative studies explored what strategies for-profit and non-profit hosts of online consumption communities utilise using the method of netnography. The findings from the qualitative stage showed that conflict management strategies in online consumption communities can be grouped into three broad categories: (i) universal – non-engaging, censoring, bolstering and informing/educating; (ii) for-profit-specific – pacifying; and (iii) non-profit-specific – mobilising and asserting. Subsequently, the effect of the identified strategies on consumer attitudes was tested via an online experiment. Results indicated that pacifying generates the most favourable consumer attitudes and perceptions towards the organisation’s social responsibility, while two other strategies (i.e. mobilising and bolstering) are also perceived favourably by consumers depending on the content of the C2C conflict. In light of these findings, theoretical contributions and managerial implications are discussed, together with proposing future research directions
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorIan Harris (Supervisor) & Peter Midmore (Supervisor)

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