As more and more people are beginning to take virtual communities (VC) as effective communication channels and the main places to get information and knowledge, understanding the factors that can support or hinder one’s knowledge sharing seems important for the management of VCs. The purpose of this paper is to explore the antecedents that influence people’s knowledge sharing in VCs, and to explore influence mechanism and the boundary condition of how the antecedent affect people’s knowledge sharing in VCs.
The authors conducted empirical research to test our hypotheses. The authors designed a questionnaire based on previous research and collected the questionnaires from seven VCs in China, including two specific topic-based forums in Baidu Tieba which is the largest Chinese online communication platform, three in traditional university bulletin board system (BBS) forums and another two based on instant messaging service. The final sample the authors got included 96 individuals. Then the authors used the hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) technique to analysis the data.
The results suggest that community member’s attachment can be a strong indicator of his/her knowledge-sharing intention which will possibly lead to knowledge-sharing behavior. However, this effect can be contingent on individual centrality and community member fluctuations. In a stable community, those who are in the peripheral position are more likely to transfer their attachment into knowledge sharing because they have the intention to move into central positions and knowledge sharing can help them gain status. While in an unstable environment, it does not make any difference between people in different position in the social network.
First, this paper reveals member’s attachment as the antecedent of people’s knowledge sharing in VCs. Second, this paper adopts a network perspective to construct the research model. And the basic point made is that knowledge sharing can be seen as a channel to attain status and centrality in a community. Thus, people who are in periphery positions are more likely to transfer their community attachment into knowledge-sharing intention. Third, this paper emphasizes the dynamic characteristic of members in VCs and proves the moderation effect of community member fluctuations.
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