Authors, Title and Publication

Beck, R., Pahlke, I., & Seebach, C. (2014). Knowledge exchange and symbolic action in social media-enabled electronic networks of practice: A multilevel perspective on knowledge seekers and contributors. MIS Quarterly38(4), 1245-1270.

The objective of this study was to identify and understand the social antecedents of knowledge exchange in electronic networks of practice on the individual and dyadic interaction levels. Organizational knowledge is one of the most important assets of an enterprise. Therefore, many organizations invest in enterprise social media (ESM) to establish electronic networks of practice and to foster knowledge exchange among employees. ESM improves interaction transparency and can be regarded as a sociotechnical system that provides a language for communication and symbolic action as well as a better sense of others’ social identity. Accordingly, the individual characteristics of knowledge seekers and contributors determine why and how interactions occur. This study conceptualizes and empirically tests a multilevel model of knowledge exchange in electronic networks of practice that includes the characteristics of knowledge seekers and knowledge contributors as well as their dyadic relationship.

Analysis of data set of 15,505 enterprise microblogging messages reveals that knowledge seekers’ characteristics and relational factors drive knowledge exchanges in social media-enabled electronic networks of practices. Specifically, the higher a knowledge seeker’s social status, channel variety, and social presence in the network, the better is the quality of the knowledge exchanged in an electronic network of practices. The stronger the norm of reciprocity in a dyadic relationship between a knowledge seeker and a knowledge contributor, the better the quality of the knowledge exchanged. The higher a knowledge contributor’s indebtedness in a dyadic relationship with a knowledge seeker, the better is the quality of the knowledge exchanged in an electronic network of practices.

Implications for Practice

Organizations should 1) invest significant resources to develop platforms and enterprise social media to improve collaboration between co-located employees and facilitate knowledge exchange among distributed workers; and 2) develop systems that further support detailed virtual self-presentations so that employees can form impressions about other members’ personalities using various information, such as the quality of their contributions, profile information, and group affiliations. In addition, reputation management mechanisms should not only focus on the number of messages a community member has posted to the collective, but should also address the quality of these posts.

Location of Article:

The article is available online at:

http://misq.org/knowledge-exchange-and-symbolic-action-in-social-media-enabled-electronic-networks-of-practice-a-multilevel-perspective-on-knowledge-seekers-and-contributors.html?SID=9otd9nqa6059pmtgdkqvv6cgo5 (abstract free, purchase full article)

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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