Does Who Helps You Impact Your Behavior? Examining the Effects of Social Interactions on Knowledge Sharing in Online Communities

44 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2020 Last revised: 24 Jul 2021

See all articles by Eunkwang Seo

Eunkwang Seo

Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Frank Nagle

Harvard Business School

Sonali Shah

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Date Written: July 22, 2021

Abstract

Online communities provide vibrant forums for knowledge sharing and are increasingly being used by individual users and firms to source knowledge and create and capture value. Yet, there is much to learn about how the actions of community members affect other members, particularly new members whose continued participation is important to community vibrancy and growth. The extant literature investigates whether or not receiving a reply increases the likelihood that a new user will post again, finding mixed results. We extend this literature in two ways: we examine the effects of (1) receiving a reply on different types of subsequent participation (asking another question and replying to others’ questions) and (2) receiving a reply from community members with different affiliations (user or employee). Based on data from the Statalist community, our findings show that receiving a reply from another user is positively associated with subsequent questioning, but negatively associated with subsequent replying by new users. Conversely, receiving a reply from an employee is positively associated with subsequent replying, but not with subsequent questioning by new users. To help address endogeneity concerns, we run fixed-effects models, implement an instrumental variable-based approach (using a two-stage Heckman selection model), use a bivariate probit model and coarsened exact matching, and conduct qualitative interviews with Stata employees. Our findings suggest that social interactions play an important, albeit nuanced and sometimes unexpected, role in shaping subsequent participation and highlight the importance of examining the effects of firm participation in online communities.

Keywords: online communities, knowledge development, innovation

Suggested Citation

Seo, Eunkwang and Nagle, Frank and Shah, Sonali, Does Who Helps You Impact Your Behavior? Examining the Effects of Social Interactions on Knowledge Sharing in Online Communities (July 22, 2021). Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Working Paper No. 21-026, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3680076 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3680076

Eunkwang Seo

Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

1206 South Sixth Street
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.eunkwangseo.com

Frank Nagle (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Sonali Shah

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

Wohlers Hall
1206 South Sixth Street
Champaign, IL 61822
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
57
Abstract Views
552
rank
442,037
PlumX Metrics