Date of Graduation

12-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Information Systems

Advisor

Rajiv Sabherwal

Committee Member

Fred Davis

Second Committee Member

John Aloysius

Third Committee Member

Pankaj Setia

Abstract

Online communities and communities of practice bring people together to promote and support shared goals and exchange information. Personal interactions are important to many of these communities and one of the important outcomes of personal interactions in online communities and communities of practice is user-generated content. The three essays in the current study examines behavior motivation in online communities and communities of practice to understand how social and personal psychological factors, and user-generated influence attitudes, intentions and behaviors in online communities.

The first essay addresses two research questions. First, how does social capital influence exchange and combination behaviors in online communities of practice? Second, how does absorptive capacity moderate the impact of exchange and combination behaviors on individual and community performance outcomes? Using a sample of 187 participants recruited from online communities of practice, the results of this study support the hypothesized relations between social capital, and exchange and combination behaviors. Additionally, the moderating role of absorptive capacity is also supported. The second essay draws on social identity and personal motivation theories to examine the following research questions. First, how do social identity, and extrinsic and intrinsic motivations influence knowledge seeking and sharing behaviors in online communities? Second, how do knowledge seeking and sharing behaviors affect satisfaction with a community? Third, how do extrinsic and intrinsic motivations moderate the outcomes of knowledge seeking and sharing behaviors? To answers these research questions, a sample of 152 participants were recruited from a number of online communities. The results of this study indicate that intrinsic and extrinsic motivations are significant predictors of knowledge seeking and sharing behaviors in online communities, and these behaviors also have a positive impact on satisfaction. Only one of the dimensions of social identity has a positive impact on knowledge seeking and sharing behaviors in online communities.

Using the theoretical lenses of elaboration likelihood model and social presence, this study investigates two research questions. First, how do social presence, source credibility, and content quality influence attitudes and intentions towards online communities? Second, how does knowledge affect those relationships? The research questions are investigated in a 2X2X2 factorial experiment with random assignment of 256 participants to one of the eight online communities. The results support all the hypothesized direct effects; two of the three hypothesized mediated relationships are also supported. The result provides insights into attitude formation, informs research on online communities and user-generated content, and has implications on the management and support of online communities.

The results from the three studies inform research on online communities by providing insights into behavior motivations and outcomes, and the role of user-generated content. The findings are discussed in detail, along with theoretical and practical implications, and directions for future research.