Fostering the determinants of knowledge sharing in professional virtual communities

Ming Ji James Lin, Shiu Wan Hung, Chih Jou Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

325 Scopus citations

Abstract

Professional virtual communities (PVCs), which are formed on the Internet, are expected to serve the needs of members for communication, information, and knowledge sharing. The executives of organizations should consider PVCs as a new innovation or knowledge pool since members share knowledge. However, many PVCs have failed due to members' low willingness to share knowledge with other members. Thus, there is a need to understand and foster the determinants of members' knowledge sharing behavior in PVCs. This study develops an integrated model designed to investigate and explain the relationships between contextual factors, personal perceptions of knowledge sharing, knowledge sharing behavior, and community loyalty. Empirical data was collected from three PVCs and tested using structural equation modeling (SEM) to verify the fit of the hypothetical model. The results show that trust significantly influences knowledge sharing self-efficacy, perceived relative advantage and perceived compatibility, which in turn positively affect knowledge sharing behavior. Furthermore, the study finds that the norm of reciprocity does not significantly affect knowledge sharing behavior. The results of the study can be used to identify the motivation underlying individuals' knowledge sharing behavior in PVCs. By investigating the impacts of contextual factors and personal perceptions on knowledge sharing behavior, the integrated model better explains behavior than other proposed models. This study might help executives of virtual communities and organizations to manage and promote these determinants of knowledge sharing to stimulate members' willingness to share knowledge and enhance their virtual community loyalty. As only little empirical research has been conducted on the impact of knowledge sharing self-efficacy, perceived relative advantage, and perceived compatibility on the individual's knowledge sharing behavior in PVCs, the empirical evidence reported here makes a valuable contribution in this highly important area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)929-939
Number of pages11
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume25
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2009

Keywords

  • Community loyalty
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Norm of reciprocity
  • Trust
  • Virtual communities

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