The Perks of Being Unknown: Implied Costs of Knowledge Seeking on Organizational Platforms

63 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2019 Last revised: 4 Apr 2022

See all articles by Maren Mickeler

Maren Mickeler

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Business Administration (Munich School of Management)

Pooyan Khashabi

ESSEC Business School

Marco Kleine

Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition

Tobias Kretschmer

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Business Administration (Munich School of Management); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 1, 2022

Abstract

Organizational platforms enable the efficient exchange of resources like knowledge or help among organizational members. Yet, employee engagement frequently remains low. Focusing on knowledge seekers, we argue that seeking behavior is influenced by implied (a) social-psychological costs, and (b) economic considerations, and posit that both costs are sensitive to revealing the seekers’ identity. In two experiments, we test our conjectures and find that both types of implied costs affect seeking behavior: if an individual’s identity becomes known, knowledge seeking on the platform decreases. If seeking comes with additional economic consequences, seeking behavior declines even further. We also find that females seek more in response to anonymity than males. These results highlight the role of user anonymity on platform engagement in organizational contexts.

Keywords: organizational platforms, knowledge seeking, virtual work, search costs, anonymity, platform member engagement, lab experiment, online survey experiment

Suggested Citation

Mickeler, Maren and Khashabi, Pooyan and Kleine, Marco and Kretschmer, Tobias, The Perks of Being Unknown: Implied Costs of Knowledge Seeking on Organizational Platforms (April 1, 2022). Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition Research Paper No. 19-17, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3500959 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3500959

Maren Mickeler

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Business Administration (Munich School of Management) ( email )

Kaulbachstr. 45
Munich, DE 80539
Germany

Pooyan Khashabi

ESSEC Business School ( email )

1 Avenue Bernard Hirsch
Cergy, 50105
France

Marco Kleine (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition ( email )

Marstallplatz 1
Munich, Bayern 80539
Germany

Tobias Kretschmer

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Business Administration (Munich School of Management) ( email )

Kaulbachstr. 45
Munich, DE 80539
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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