How formal structure of electronic knowledge sharing networks influences participation behavior in a global enterprise

Bin Gu, Sirkka L. Jarvenpaa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The literature on organizational electronic knowledge sharing networks depicts the networks as self-organizing and self-sustaining, comprised of volunteers. Rarely does the literature examine them embedded in formal structures of the organization. Yet, in global enterprises, there is a real challenge to ensure that experts continue to dedicate time to participate in the networks despite of many demands on their time and despite of being distant and geographically isolated from the other network members. To maintain sustained participation, the firms no longer rely solely on the voluntary nature of the sharing activity, but rather integrate the networks in the formal structures of the organization. Grounding our study in motivation theories, we examine how the formal structure impacts participation and how does the geographical distance from other members and the geographical diversity of the network moderate this relationship? By analyzing posted inquiries and contributed responses in over 100 different knowledge sharing networks in a global company, we show that embedding network in the formal structure is a double edged sword. On one hand, formal structure increases participation of members within the structure. On the other hand, formal structure seems to have little impact on those not part of the formal structure. One key implication is that organizations need to give special consideration to the size of the formal and informal aspects of the electronic knowledge sharing networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Information Systems 2011, ICIS 2011
Pages2725-2742
Number of pages18
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011
Event32nd International Conference on Information System 2011, ICIS 2011 - Shanghai, China
Duration: Dec 4 2011Dec 7 2011

Publication series

NameInternational Conference on Information Systems 2011, ICIS 2011
Volume4

Other

Other32nd International Conference on Information System 2011, ICIS 2011
CountryChina
CityShanghai
Period12/4/1112/7/11

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems

Cite this

Gu, B., & Jarvenpaa, S. L. (2011). How formal structure of electronic knowledge sharing networks influences participation behavior in a global enterprise. In International Conference on Information Systems 2011, ICIS 2011 (pp. 2725-2742). (International Conference on Information Systems 2011, ICIS 2011; Vol. 4).