Exploring the determinants of knowledge exchange in virtual communities
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- Exploring the determinants of knowledge exchange in virtual communities
- Gang, KwangWook; Ravichandran, T
- Issue Date
- IEEE-INST ELECTRICAL ELECTRONICS ENGINEERS INC
- IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT, v.62, no.1, pp.89 - 99
- Virtual communities have become ubiquitous and vital in nearly all professions. These communities typically involve voluntary participation, and given that these communities are not organization specific, community members' motivations for participation vary. In this study, we investigate the motivations of the members of a professional virtual community to engage in knowledge exchange. We synthesize social exchange theory and the theory of reasoned action to identify critical determinants of attitudes toward knowledge exchange in virtual communities, namely, trust among participants, anticipated reciprocal relationships, and the relevance of the community to participants' jobs. Additionally, we posit that attitudes will influence the intention to use the virtual community and that this relationship will be moderated by the perceived quality of the information exchanged within the community. We test our research model using data compiled from a community of research scientists in South Korea. Our findings indicate that trust among participants has a positive influence on attitudes toward both sharing and acquiring knowledge. The anticipation of a reciprocal relationship has a positive effect on attitudes toward knowledge acquisition, and job relevance has a positive effect on attitudes toward knowledge sharing. Furthermore, attitudes toward knowledge acquisition affect attitudes toward knowledge sharing, and attitudes toward knowledge sharing positively influence intentions to use a virtual community. We also find that perceived information quality negatively moderates the relationship between attitudes toward knowledge sharing and user intentions to use a virtual community. We interpret and discuss these findings, and their implications for research and practice.
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