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Wednesday, July 13 • 15:31 - 17:00
Healthcare Workers Sharing Knowledge Online: Motivations and Consequences of Participating in a Virtual Community of Practice

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Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 326, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
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Contributor: Anika Batenburg, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands


Within organizations, a recent trend is to use social media platforms for internal communication. These online platforms to share information, so called Virtual Communities of Practice (VCoP’s), enable an open communication climate (Behrend & Erwee, 2009), and therefore are assumed to be more effective as an organizational form to create knowledge and innovation than the traditional hierarchal ways of structuring interactions (Von Wartburg, Rost, & Teichert, 2006). Perhaps because viability and the value of a VCoP depend on member-generated content, previous studies are mostly focused on factors that motivate online knowledge sharing behaviour (e.g., Chiu, Hsu, & Wang, 2006; Chen & Hung, 2010; Cheung, Lee & Lee, 2013). However, it is unknown what participation does to its’ members. 


Based on Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985), we aim to get more insight into intrinsic motivations and potential work-related consequences of knowledge sharing behaviour within a VCoP among employees of a healthcare organization. According SDT, individuals are eager to fulfil three psychological needs (competence, autonomy, and relatedness), and when satisfied individuals experience psychological growth, integrity, and wellbeing. The first aim was to test if employees who experience competence, relatedness, and autonomy within the VCoP, are more motivated to share their knowledge within the community. The second goal, as potential consequences of participation, was to test if online knowledge sharing behaviour is related to feelings of competence, autonomy, and relatedness at work, and if this relates to work satisfaction. 


A group of 260 employees with access to a VCoP within a Dutch healthcare organization filled-out a questionnaire. First, we measured employees’ online knowledge sharing behaviour (KSB; Yoon & Rolland, 2012), feelings of autonomy, relatedness and competence within the community itself (as motivations for KSB; Yoon & Rolland, 2012), and as consequences, feelings of autonomy, relatedness and competence in performing their job (Deci & Ryan, 2001), and work satisfaction (Curry, Wakefield, Price, & Mueller, 1986). All indices appeared internally consistent (Cronbach’s α >.76) and factor analyses showed that the indices explained between 58.97% and 86.89% of the variance. 


Regarding motivations, feelings of competence within the community were positively related to online KSB (β =.61, p<.001). Feelings of autonomy and relatedness within the online community were not related to online KSB. With respect to consequences of participation, online KSB was positively related to feelings of autonomy (β =.34, p<.001), relatedness (β =.31, p<.001), and competence at work (β =.38, p<.001). Furthermore, feelings of competence at work was positively related to work satisfaction (β =.29, p=.018). The relationship between online KSB and work satisfaction was partially mediated by feelings of competence at work. 

Future Work:

To our knowledge this is the first study showing that SDT has the potential to explain both motivations and consequences of being part of a VCoP within an organization. A limitation is the cross-sectional design. Future research is needed to establish causal relationships. To reveal if results hold among different communities, we will be present results of two other studies (in progress) as well. 


Behrend, F. D., & Erwee, R. (2009). Mapping knowledge flows in virtual teams with SNA. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13, 99-114. 
Chen, C.J., & Hung, S.W. (2010). To give or to receive? Factors influencing members’ knowledge sharing and community promotion in professional virtual communities. Information & Management, 47(4), 226–236. 
Cheung, C. M. K., Lee, M. K. O., & Lee, Z. W. Y. (2013). Understanding the continuance intention of knowledge sharing in online communities of practice through the post-knowledge-sharing evaluation processes, 64(7), 1357–1374. 
Chiu, C., Hsu, M., & Wang, E., 2006. Understanding knowledge sharing in virtual communities: an integration of social capital and social cognitive theories. Decision Support Systems, 42 (3), 1872–1888. 
Deci, E.L. and Ryan, R.M., 1985. Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum Press. 
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2001). Questionnaires: Basic Psychological Needs Scales. 
Gagné, M. & Deci, E.L. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Organizational Behavior, 26, 331-362. 
Von Wartburg, I., Rost, K., & Teichert, T. (2006). The creation of social and intellectual capital in virtual communities of practice: shaping social structure in virtual communities of practice. International Journal of Learning and Change, 1(3), 299-316. 

Yoon, C., & Rolland, E. (2012). Knowledge-sharing in virtual communities: familiarity, anonymity and self-determination theory. Behaviour & Information Technology, 31(11), 1–11.  

Wednesday July 13, 2016 15:31 - 17:00
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 326 Goldsmiths University, Building 2

Attendees (7)