Knowledge-Sharing in an Online Community of Health-Care Professionals
Information Technology & People, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 235-261, 2007
53 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2009
Date Written: 2007
Purpose – The purposes of this study are twofold: (1) to examine the types of activity that nurses undertake on an online community of practice (APN-l) as well as the types of knowledge that nurses share with one another and (2) to examine the factors that sustain knowledge sharing among the nurses from their local perspectives.
Design/methodology/approach – An in-depth case study with mixed methods was adopted to obtain rich and naturalistic data including online observations of the messages posted in APN-l, interviews with twenty-seven members of APN-l, and content analysis of online messages.
Findings – The most common type of activity performed by members of APN-l was “Knowledge sharing,” followed by “Solicitation.” Regarding the types of knowledge shared, the most common were “Institutional practice” and “Personal opinion.” The factors that have helped sustain knowledge sharing within the online community of practice include: (1) a self-selection, (2) validation of one’s practice with others who share a similar working situation, (3) a need to gain better understanding of current knowledge and best practices in the field, (4) a noncompetitive environment, (5) the asynchronous nature of the online communication medium, and (6) the role of the listserv moderator.
Originality/value – This study contributes to the growing knowledge base of communities of practice that span organizational boundary. Administrators can use the coding schema developed in this study to gauge current activities of existing online communities of practice. Additionally, they can use the six factors to sustain knowledge sharing community for fostering new/existing online communities of practice.
Keywords: knowledge sharing, online communities of practice, types of knowledge, nurses
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