Knowledge management in a virtual organization : are embedded online communities of practice more successful than exclusively virtual ones?

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Abstract

Is a deliberate shaping of the mixture of virtual and 'real-life' interaction in online communities a crucial condition for diminishing the typical problems of knowledge sharing? Typical problems that increase the risk of failure are: a lack of trust between members, free rider behavior (the presence of members who profit from the discussions without contributing themselves), and a lack of stable membership. The project attempts to answer two questions: a) how often do these different problems emerge in online communities? and b) does a mixture of virtual and 'real-life' interaction of at least some members -in contrast to 'purely virtual' interaction- reduce the prevalence of the problems that the whole community faces? Since the mixture of virtual and 'real-life' interaction of at least some members, that is the degree of embeddedness of an online community of practice, can be influenced, knowledge about the impact of the degree of embeddedness (question b) is an important input to the design and management of online communities. Knowledge about the prevalence of the different problems (question a) is crucial for focusing the knowledge management efforts in different types of online communities on their most prevalent problems. A deliberate community design and community management can reduce the emergence of problems and make the online community more successful for all members.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationHilversum
PublisherNWO-MES
Number of pages59
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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