به اشتراک گذاری دانش در جوامع مجازی : چشم انداز کسب و کار الکترونیکی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|3693||2004||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Expert Systems with Applications, Volume 26, Issue 2, February 2004, Pages 155–166
Thanks to availability of the Internet, virtual communities are proliferating at an unprecedented rate. In-depth understanding of virtual community dynamics can help us to address critical organizational and information systems issues such as communities-of-practice, virtual collaboration, and knowledge management. In this article, we develop a virtual community activity framework, integrating community knowledge sharing activity into business activities in the form of an e-business model. We examine how the level of community knowledge sharing activity leads to virtual community outcomes and whether such community outcomes are related to loyalty toward the virtual community service provider. Based on a field survey of 77 virtual communities currently operating in Freechal.com, one of Korea's largest Internet community service providers, we found that the level of community knowledge sharing activity is related to virtual community outcomes and such outcomes are significantly associated with loyalty to the virtual community service provider. These results imply that the level of community knowledge sharing activity may be a proper proxy for the state of health of a virtual community. Implications of the findings and future virtual community research directions are discussed.
Owing to the limits of IT-driven knowledge management for interactive innovation processes, a community-based approach has been alternatively spotlighted (Swan, Newell, & Robertson, 2000). Among a variety of approaches to knowledge management in organizations (Choi and Lee, 2002, Lee and Kim, 2001 and Wiig et al., 1997), the community-based approach has been considered as one of the most effective tools for knowledge creation and transfer (Brown and Duguid, 1991 and Wegner and Synder, 2000). The approach emphasizes dialogue through social networks (person-to-person contact) (Swan et al., 2000), and helps to informally share knowledge which is obtained from experienced and skilled people (Jordan & Jones, 1997). As the Internet revolution has evoked an unprecedented proliferation of virtual communities all over the world (Fernback, 1999 and Hiltz and Wellman, 1997), exchanging information and knowledge inside virtual communities rapidly has dramatically changed our lives. Now information and knowledge are often sent directly from member to member and any member is able to disseminate information electronically without hierarchical channels (Alavi and Leidner, 2001, Larsen and Mclnerney, 2002 and Liebowitz, 1999). A virtual community may be understood as one of the knowledge community types via computer-mediated communications (CMC). On the commercial front, the most successful e-commerce initiatives turn out to be the community-based ones such as Internet auction or group purchasing. For instance, eBay has established an Internet auction community of 16 million registered members as of January 2001 (Sinclair, 2001) and outperforms virtually every type of e-commerce rival. On the non-commercial front, growth of Internet community service providers worldwide has been phenomenal. The iloveschool.co.kr, an on-line alumni association support site in Korea, attracted 7 million members in 12 months (Jan 2000–Jan 2001) and, as of July 2002, is hosting about 1 million virtual communities. The websites such as geocities.com or iloveschool.co.kr are also trying to develop various community-based business models. What implications does this unprecedented growth of virtual communities have on the information systems (IS) community? First, understanding of virtual community dynamics may facilitate virtual collaboration among organizations across their organizational boundaries (Butler, 2001, Espinosa et al., 2003, Finholt and Sproull, 1990 and Scott, 2000). Secondly, transforming the traditional off-line communities-of-practice (CoPs) (Brown and Duguid, 1991 and Wegner and Synder, 2000) into on-line virtual communities will greatly improve their community scope (within-site⇒inter-site), interaction efficiency (face to face communications⇒on-line, multimedia communications), and sharing of critical information and knowledge (physical documents⇒on-line repository) (Abbott, 1988, Kim et al., 2003 and Scott, 2000). Lastly, changing our views of an organization from a hierarchy of command and control into a network of competency-based virtual communities will lead us to a radically different set of organizational design options (Lee and Kim, 2001, Miles et al., 1998 and Wiig et al., 1997). Sometimes, this may take the form of Nonaka's (1994)hyper-text organization where critical organizational knowledge is created through multiple modes and media of interaction among individuals and groups across departmental boundaries and management levels. In the cases of firms such as Dell Computer and Cisco Systems, this has been materialized through their extremely well-maintained global supplier and customer community networks (Patel, 2002). By transforming suppliers and customers into their corporate community members, Dell and Cisco have been able to exchange valuable information and knowledge with them while, using the same Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) connection, other firms are processing orders and invoices ( Kraemer and Dedrick, 2002 and Magretta, 1998). Despite the virtual communities' explosive growth and non-trivial implications for the IS community, virtual community service providers (e.g. geocities.com) that mainly focus on offering to users their websites as the place to build virtual communities for knowledge sharing are searching for their unique profitable business models. In Korea, major virtual community providers including the well-known site Daum communications (http://www.daum.net), try to develop various profitable strategies such as selling avatars, cyber characters that symbolize a community member's identity in cyberspace, or charging a community service fee. As the potential profits of the Internet services for the virtual community providers are being spotlighted, the link between the level of community knowledge sharing activity and loyalty toward the community service provider is stimulating the curiosity of IS researchers as well as practitioners. Whether virtual community services are profitable for the community providers is still in question although Hagel and Amstrong (1997) and more recently Rothaermel and Sugiyama (2001) suggested the revenue potential of virtual communities. In fact, many community service providers (portals) are hesitating to invest their money in nurturing their communities owing to the lack of assurance that community activation or knowledge sharing activity will finally lead to a profit. In this study, we intend to examine whether the level of community knowledge sharing activity predicts a community service provider's outcomes (e.g. loyalty) as well as the virtual community's outcomes. More specifically, we ask: • Is the level of community knowledge sharing activity associated with virtual community outcomes such as community participation or community promotion? • Is community knowledge sharing activity or community stimulation really meaningful to virtual community service providers? Are virtual community outcomes related to loyalty toward the virtual community service provider? Section 2 reviews the literature on the definitions of virtual community, virtual community activity for knowledge sharing, and the business value of virtual communities. In Section 3, we introduce the research model and related hypotheses of the study. Data collection and analysis methods are described in Section 4. In Section 5, we report the results of the statistical tests of the given hypotheses. Finally, in 6 and 7, we discuss our findings and implications as well as the limitations of the study.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In this study, we examined how virtual community activity for knowledge sharing explains virtual community performance and whether such community performance is related to loyalty toward the community service portal. We developed the measure of the level of community knowledge sharing activity, using posting and viewing activities, and found that it is significantly related to positive perceptions of virtual community members such as community participation and community promotion. This implies that community portal managers may use simple measures such as knowledge posting and viewing activities as good surrogates for evaluating actual virtual community stimulation. However, these interpretations are not based on specific causalities. Possibly a large number of knowledge postings might not be the cause of community loyalty, but be an eventual result of community loyalty. For this, in this study, we note we just validated that the level of community knowledge sharing activity is closely related to perceptual community loyalty (i.e. community participation and promotion) and proposed that it may be a proper proxy for the state of health of a virtual community. As virtual communities become mature, a longitudinal study for the causal relationships between them needs to be conducted. A major finding of this study is that the level of loyalty toward the community service provider is associated with the level of the community outcome such as community promotion. We suggest to virtual community providers that they should trace the elaborate links between their communities and the virtual community providers themselves, which would help create profitable Internet business models. Linking community knowledge sharing activity to commercial activity is critical to virtual community providers who expect that many future B2C commercial transactions will be conducted via on-line communities (Bressler & Grantham, 2000). This study is expected to be useful to researchers who are interested in knowledge management through virtual communities, virtual teams, or CoPs, and profitable Internet business models by virtual communities. Also, practitioners such as virtual community service providers may benefit from this research both by realizing the potential business value of virtual communities and by finding simple and objective measures of community knowledge sharing activity (i.e. knowledge posting and viewing activities) as good proxies for the state of health of a virtual community. There are several limitations in this study. Since the data was collected in a single website as well as a single country (South Korea), the general applicability of the findings is limited. More extensive data collection is needed for greater generalizability. Secondly, there were relatively high correlations between some variables. All of them may be causal outcomes of certain affecting variables (e.g. community leadership, off-line activities, or usefulness of content) though we did not consider them in the research model of the study. Future research to find which key virtual community characteristics influence community outcomes from a knowledge management perspective is required. Thirdly, in the sampling procedure, we suspect that the samples may be biased since all the sample communities voluntarily participated in the survey. Next, since we simply measured the variable of loyalty to the virtual community provider instead of ultimate outcomes such as real commercial transactions or profits, the direct relationship between the level of community activity and its financial contribution to the portal was not explored in the study. For future research, investigating the relationship between the level of community knowledge creating/sharing activities and its financial contribution to the community service portal, would be valuable. Finally, since this study focused on non-profit virtual communities inside a community portal, a study on profit communities such as eBay.com or brand communities (McWilliam, 2000) is needed.