Human Flesh Search: What Did We Find?

30 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2017

See all articles by Cheng-Suang Heng

Cheng-Suang Heng

National University of Singapore (NUS)

Zhijie Lin

Tsinghua University

Xiaoying Xu

South China University of Technology - School of Business Administration (SBA)

Date Written: June 21, 2017

Abstract

Human Flesh Search (HFS) has proliferated profusely in China and other countries in recent years. Unlike other value co-creation communities, HFS differs in three important ways to warrant our investigation. We adopted the multiple case approach to investigate 21 HFS cases spanning 2007 to 2014, comprising 204,008 posts from 67,375 posters. Our preliminary analyses depicted consistent patterns across categories. We also established three contagious mechanisms driving HFS behavior (i.e., fueling emotionalism, unquestioning acceptance, and forgetting collectively) and two non-contagious mechanisms (i.e., isolating dissents/squabbles, and updating sluggishly). More essentially, for each of the above mechanisms, we shed insights on the affordances and constraints offered by IT. Critical theoretical contributions include challenging past understanding of “collective efforts” in value co-creation, enriching the discourse on online communities, complementing the “macro level perspective” of HFS with the “micro level perspective”, enhancing knowledge on “crowd behavior” (especially the concept of contagion online) and underscoring the essential roles of IT in providing affordances and constraints. Important practical implications to various stakeholders are also drawn.

Keywords: Human Flesh Search, Online Community, Contagion and Non-Contagion Behavior, IT Affordances and Constraints

Suggested Citation

Heng, Cheng-Suang and Lin, Zhijie and Xu, Xiaoying, Human Flesh Search: What Did We Find? (June 21, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2990436 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2990436

Cheng-Suang Heng

National University of Singapore (NUS) ( email )

15 Computing Drive
Singapore, Singapore 117418
Singapore

Zhijie Lin (Contact Author)

Tsinghua University ( email )

Haidian District
Beijing, Beijing 100084
China

Xiaoying Xu

South China University of Technology - School of Business Administration (SBA) ( email )

Wushan
Guangzhou
China

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