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Online knowledge sharing in virtual communities of practice

Knowledge Management (KM) techniques and tools have been utilized by organizations from diverse sections of the Economy to achieve numerous goals such as: competitive advantage, increased innovativeness and global project management. One of the techniques of KM that has gained prominence as a very useful knowledge sharing tool is Virtual Communities of Practice. It originated from work on situated learning. In order to utilize it in a proper way it is necessary to take into account human, psychological, social and technological factors. The purpose of this research is to investigate the factors that influence participants of VCoP while they play two distinct roles: knowledge provider and knowledge receiver. This is a gap in knowledge as there is a shortage of studies that analyse these two roles in VCoPs. Most of the research in this area focus on the knowledge provider role, with few studies considering the knowledge receiver role. Both roles are present only in a few studies and even so they are not the main topics of those researches and thus these roles are not fully recognized by the authors. This leads to the research problem of how to evaluate knowledge sharing activities performed by the participants of VCoPs while they play these two distinct roles: knowledge provider and knowledge receiver. In order to address this research problem it was necessary to identify and analyse the underlying constructs and how they interact with each other. The process of identifying these constructs and their relationships was supported by existing literature and models formulated by other researchers. In 2 particular and substantial to this research were three models formulated by: Chiu et al. 2006, Lin et al 2009 and Jiacheng et al 2010. The research built relationships between the identified constructs in order to develop a research model. The constructs of the research model were operationalized into appropriate questionnaire items and interview questions. Data was collected using a validated questionnaire and interviews with key members of two VCoPs. The first study was performed with Laurea Labs in Finland and focused on knowledge intensive processes, while the second study with a group in Second Life investigated online knowledge sharing in an immersive virtual environment. In order to evaluate the research model, collected data was analysed. The tools used were Principal Components Analysis, Correlation Analysis and Multiregression Analysis. It was utilized to evaluate the conceptual model. The contribution to knowledge of this study is the identification of the critical factors influencing online knowledge sharing in virtual communities of practice, the design of conceptual model for knowledge sharing that brings together the two distinct roles participants can play (knowledge provider and knowledge receiver), operationalisation of the factors into questionnaire items and interview questions as well as empirical research in two diverse environments (research lab and immersive virtual world). 3 The most significant relationships were between Knowledge Provision and Knowledge Reception on the one hand and Online Knowledge Sharing on the other as well as Perceived Benefits and Perception of Community. The nonsignificant relationships were dropped in the final model. Qualitative findings introduced Language and Innovation Capabilities as new constructs. Besides, further findings from correlation analysis have introduced new relationships termed as propositions on the model. The implications of the research include the difference in the way the receivers as opposed to givers of knowledge in VCoPs should be motivated to engage in knowledge sharing processes. Some of the motivatiors confirmed by this study are benefits, social ties and reciprocity.
Date January 2012
CreatorsMajewski, Grzegorz
PublisherUniversity of the West of Scotland
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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