Knowledge sharing in virtual communities
Kosonen, Miia (2008-12-19)
Lappeenranta University of Technology
Acta Universitatis Lappeenrantaensis
Julkaisun pysyvä osoite on
The Internet has transformed the scope, boundaries and dynamics of social and economic interactions. It is argued to have broadened the notion of the community from physical, colocated groups towards collectives that are able to transcend time and space, i.e. virtual communities. Even if virtual communities have been on the academic agenda for a couple of decades, there is still surprisingly little research on knowledge sharing within them. In addition, prior research has largely neglected the complex dynamics between Internet-based communication channels and the surrounding communities in which they are embedded. This thesis aims at building a better understanding of knowledge sharing supported by conversational technologies in intra-organisational virtual communities and external virtual communities supporting relationships with customers. The focus is thus on knowledge sharing in types of virtual communities that seem to be of relevance to business organisations. The study consists of two parts. The first part introduces the research topic and discusses the overall results. The second part comprises seven research publications. Qualitative research methods are used throughout the study. The results of the study indicate that investigation of the processes of knowledge sharing in virtual communities requires a socio-technical perspective, combining the individual, social and technological levels, and understanding the interplay between them. It is claimed that collective knowledge in virtual communities creates the enabling structure for knowledge sharing, and forms the invisible structure of the community on the basis of which it operates. It consists of a shared context, social capital and a unique community culture. The Internet does not inevitably erode social interaction: it seems that supporting social relationships by means of communication technology is a matter of quantity rather than quality. In order to provide access to external knowledge and expertise, firms need to open themselves up to an array of Internet-based conversations, and to consider the relevance of virtual communities to their businesses.
- Väitöskirjat