Organizational interest in user-generated content (UGC) websites is growing, as organizations face highly competitive markets, uncertain economic environments, and a growing user base accustomed to active engagement rather than passive acceptance of products and services. Organizations are now exploring ways to provide a platform (website) through which users generate and contribute content, resulting in a co-created experience between users and organizations. However, organizations interested in leveraging UGC websites are facing a new challenge Ė getting users to actively engage through content contribution, retrieval, and exploration. Thus, the research questions guiding this dissertation are: what factors influence an individualís user experience in UGC websites and to what extent does a positive user experience impact individual engagement behavior?
This manuscript develops a theory of co-created value to examine how social interactions, operationalized as perceived dialogue, transparency, social accessibility, and risk, and technical features, operationalized as the perceived granularity, extensibility, integration, and evolvability, of a UGC website influence an individualís user experience and subsequent engagement behaviors. Results suggest initial support for a socio-technical perspective of user engagement. The social interactions, critical mass and transparency, had a direct impact on a userís engagement within a UGC website, while critical mass also had a direct impact on a userís experience. The technical features, granularity and evolvability, had direct impacts on a userís experience within a UGC website. Surprisingly, extensibility had a negative impact on a userís experience. Lastly, a positive user experience positively influenced a userís engagement behavior. Based on the results of this study, implications for research and practice are discussed and future directions for researchers are outlined.