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Motivation and barriers to participation in virtual knowledge‐sharing communities of practice

Alexander Ardichvili (Alexander Ardichvili is an assistant professor at the department of Human Resource Education, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. He received his MBA and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, and Ph.D. from the University of Moscow. Dr. Ardichvili has published peer‐reviewed articles and book chapters in the areas of human resource development, entrepreneurship, and knowledge management (
Vaughn Page (Vaughn Page is a doctoral student in Human Resource Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana‐Champaign. His research interest centers on knowledge management and communities of practice. Page earned a Bachelor’s degree in Career and Organizational Studies and a Master’s in Training & Development from Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois (
Tim Wentling (Tim Wentling is a professor in the Department of Library and Information Science and a Senior Research Scientist in the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana‐Champaign. Professor Wentling holds a PhD in Education and an MBA from the University of Illinois and a Master of Science in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin. Professor Wentling is the leader of the Knowledge and Learning Systems Group at NCSA where he heads a team of cross‐disciplinary faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students (

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 1 March 2003



This paper reports the results of a qualitative study of motivation and barriers to employee participation in virtual knowledge‐sharing communities of practice at Caterpillar Inc., a Fortune 100, multinational corporation. The study indicates that, when employees view knowledge as a public good belonging to the whole organization, knowledge flows easily. However, even when individuals give the highest priority to the interests of the organization and of their community, they tend to shy away from contributing knowledge for a variety of reasons. Specifically, employees hesitate to contribute out of fear of criticism, or of misleading the community members (not being sure that their contributions are important, or completely accurate, or relevant to a specific discussion). To remove the identified barriers, there is a need for developing various types of trust, ranging from the knowledge‐based to the institution‐based trust. Future research directions and implications for KM practitioners are formulated.



Ardichvili, A., Page, V. and Wentling, T. (2003), "Motivation and barriers to participation in virtual knowledge‐sharing communities of practice", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 64-77.




Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited

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