Personality traits and knowledge sharing in online communities

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Personality traits and knowledge sharing in online communities
Authors: Tanja Jadin, Timo Gnambs, Bernad Batinic [edit item]
Citation: Computers in Human Behavior 29 (1): 210–216. 2013.
Publication type: Journal article
Peer-reviewed: Yes
Database(s):
DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2012.08.007.
Google Scholar cites: Citations
Link(s): Paper link
Added by Wikilit team: Yes
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Personality traits and knowledge sharing in online communities is a publication by Tanja Jadin, Timo Gnambs, Bernad Batinic.


[edit] Abstract

Adopting diffusion theory and the concept of social value orientation, the effects of personality traits on knowledge sharing in a virtual open content community are investigated. In addition to the main effects of personality, it was hypothesized that intrinsic motivations would moderate the effects on knowledge sharing. A sample of N = 256 active users of Wikipedia provided measures of personality, motivation, and knowledge sharing. Latent regression analyses support the notion that authorship of Wikipedia is associated with higher levels of trendsetting and a prosocial value orientation. Moreover, moderation analyses demonstrate that the effect of the latter is moderated by individual differences in motivations to write. Differences with regard to opinion leadership could not be confirmed.

[edit] Research questions

""the objective of the present study was to explore the role of stable personality characteristics in knowledge sharing in open content projects" (p. 210)"

Research details

Topics: Contributor motivation [edit item]
Domains: Computer science, Information systems, Psychology [edit item]
Theory type: Explanation [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Main topic [edit item]
Theories: "diffusion theory (Rogers, 2003) and the concept of social value orientation (Van Lange, De Bruin, Otten, & Joireman, 1997)" [edit item]
Research design: Statistical analysis [edit item]
Data source: Survey responses [edit item]
Collected data time dimension: Cross-sectional [edit item]
Unit of analysis: User [edit item]
Wikipedia data extraction: N/A [edit item]
Wikipedia page type: N/A [edit item]
Wikipedia language: Not specified [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

""Complementing previous research on the role of the Big Five of personality in face-to-face teams (Matzler et al., 2008; Mooradian et al., 2006), the present study introduced three personality traits to predict the degree of knowledge sharing in an online community. The results of this study give support to three main conclusions: First, trendsetting represents the most prominent trait of the three under study by increasing the likelihood of an individual’s knowledge contribution to Wikipedia. Hence, contributors of open content are primarily attracted by the unconventional challenge of creating new web content. They tend to be innovative users who are drawn by the novelty of publishing texts on the Internet. Second, to a lesser degree opinion leadership also predicts knowledge sharing on Wikipedia, albeit contrary to expectations in a negative direction; that is, knowledge sharing is associated with lower levels of opinion leadership. Third, prosocial value orientations yielded rather ambiguous results. Although prosocial orientations differentiate between readers and authors of Wikipedia, this effect is moderated by motivational tendencies. Prosocial values increase the likelihood of contributing new content only when individuals have a basic motivation to write. Prosocial values, however, cannot compensate for a lack of motivation. Moreover, in contrast to the two other traits, prosocial orientations did not predict the degree of knowledge sharing, i.e. the number of articles edited. Prosocial values thus seem to be a rather vague predictor of knowledge sharing on Wikipedia, which seems to be effective only under certain conditions.

What are the consequences of these results? Efficient knowledge sharing between team members represents a critical success factor for many tasks. In particular, organizations that rely on the knowledge contribution of unpaid followers as part of their business model (e.g., as on Twitter.com or Flickr.com) require a profound understanding of factors that foster knowledge sharing in online communities. For organizations that seek to initiate and maintain user contributions in online communities it seems most effective to target individuals with high levels of trendsetting by emphasizing the unique characteristics of the community at hand and the novelty of web-based content authoring as an innovative activity which few others engage in. Trendsetters are important for two reasons. First, they are early adopters of new trends and (in the case of Wikipedia) engage more heavily in knowledge sharing than others. Secondly, their reactions also have an impact on the opinions and behaviors of their social reference group. Although they are generally less influential than individuals with high levels of opinion leadership (Batinic et al., 2008; Gnambs & Batinic, 2012a), they are among the first to gain experience with an innovation and communicate it with others. In online communities they are the first who actively participate and engage in knowledge sharing. Hence, their impressions are crucial for the initial development of the exchange process. If individuals with high levels of trendsetting report negative experiences with a community, it might be detrimental for the decision of others to contribute. For organizations trying to develop knowledge sharing communities, it therefore seems essential to consider users with high levels of trendsetting in particular and to create positive experiences for them. In contrast, individuals with high levels of opinion leadership are not necessarily attracted by the novelty of a task itself, but tend to generally try to influence others on topics they regard as important (Gnambs & Batinic, 2012b). As a result of their rather communicative nature and social orientation, it was hypothesized that they would participate in knowledge sharing communities to promote important topics and thus indirectly influence others with their contributions. However, on Wikipedia at least, this does not seem to be the case. If anything, opinion leadership is negatively correlated with knowledge sharing. Three explanations might account for these findings. First, a central requirement for the publication of texts on Wikipedia is the need to take an objective point of view. Texts, especially on controversial topics, should present opposing views objectively, without taking a specific side. As individuals high in opinion leadership seek to voice their subjective opinions (Rogers, 2003), the need for objectivity could limit their active contributions on Wikipedia. Moreover, because Wikipedia is envisioned as an encyclopedian resource, it simply might not include the specialized topics most opinion leaders consider important. Second, the lack of direct interaction with others might be a dissuasive factor to their engagement in Wikipedia. Individuals high in opinion leadership typically influence their social reference group in personal conversations (Weimann, 1991). Situations where direct contact with others is not possible or are of a rather limited degree as on Wikipedia might be less attractive for them. Third, the results might also be a consequence of the distinct pattern of media consumption reported previously for opinion leadership (Rogers, 2003). Individuals with high levels of opinion leadership read news papers and magazines more frequently and watch television more often than those with low levels of the trait (Vernette, 2004). As Wikipedia is the central resource of information on the Internet for diverse topics, opinion leaders seem to use Wikipedia to stay informed about certain topics. Thus, it is primarily among readers of Wikipedia, among those who use and apply the provided information, that individuals with high levels of opinion leadership are well represented. They influence others to a lesser extent by creating new texts, but use the published information to influence their close social network (Rogers, 2003). As a consequence, for organization seeking to communicate, for example, new product lines to their consumers, it seems prudent to provide qualitative information that attracts individuals high in opinion leadership who would propagate the respective message within their social circle." (pp. 214-215)"

[edit] Comments


Further notes[edit]

Facts about "Personality traits and knowledge sharing in online communities"RDF feed
AbstractAdopting diffusion theory and the concept Adopting diffusion theory and the concept of social value orientation, the effects of personality traits on knowledge sharing in a virtual open content community are investigated. In addition to the main effects of personality, it was hypothesized that intrinsic motivations would moderate the effects on knowledge sharing. A sample of N = 256 active users of Wikipedia provided measures of personality, motivation, and knowledge sharing. Latent regression analyses support the notion that authorship of Wikipedia is associated with higher levels of trendsetting and a prosocial value orientation. Moreover, moderation analyses demonstrate that the effect of the latter is moderated by individual differences in motivations to write. Differences with regard to opinion leadership could not be confirmed.opinion leadership could not be confirmed.
Added by wikilit teamYes +
Collected data time dimensionCross-sectional +
Conclusion"Complementing previous research on the ro"Complementing previous research on the role of the Big Five of

personality in face-to-face teams (Matzler et al., 2008; Mooradian et al., 2006), the present study introduced three personality traits to predict the degree of knowledge sharing in an online community. The results of this study give support to three main conclusions: First, trendsetting represents the most prominent trait of the three under study by increasing the likelihood of an individual’s knowledge contribution to Wikipedia. Hence, contributors of open content are primarily attracted by the unconventional challenge of creating new web content. They tend to be innovative users who are drawn by the novelty of publishing texts on the Internet. Second, to a lesser degree opinion leadership also predicts knowledge sharing on Wikipedia, albeit contrary to expectations in a negative direction; that is, knowledge sharing is associated with lower levels of opinion leadership. Third, prosocial value orientations yielded rather ambiguous results. Although prosocial orientations differentiate between readers and authors of Wikipedia, this effect is moderated by motivational tendencies. Prosocial values increase the likelihood of contributing new content only when individuals have a basic motivation to write. Prosocial values, however, cannot compensate for a lack of motivation. Moreover, in contrast to the two other traits, prosocial orientations did not predict the degree of knowledge sharing, i.e. the number of articles edited. Prosocial values thus seem to be a rather vague predictor of knowledge sharing on Wikipedia, which seems to be effective only under certain conditions.

What are the consequences of these results? Efficient knowledge sharing between team members represents a critical success factor for many tasks. In particular, organizations that rely on the knowledge contribution of unpaid followers as part of their business model (e.g., as on Twitter.com or Flickr.com) require a profound understanding of factors that foster knowledge sharing in online communities. For organizations that seek to initiate and maintain user contributions in online communities it seems most effective to target individuals with high levels of trendsetting by emphasizing the unique characteristics of the community at hand and the novelty of web-based content authoring as an innovative activity which few others engage in. Trendsetters are important for two reasons. First, they are early adopters of new trends and (in the case of Wikipedia) engage more heavily in knowledge sharing than others. Secondly, their reactions also have an impact on the opinions and behaviors of their social reference group. Although they are generally less influential than individuals with high levels of opinion leadership (Batinic et al., 2008; Gnambs & Batinic, 2012a), they are among the first to gain experience with an innovation and communicate it with others. In online communities they are the first who actively participate and engage in knowledge sharing. Hence, their impressions are crucial for the initial development of the exchange process. If individuals with high levels of trendsetting report negative experiences with a community, it might be detrimental for the decision of others to contribute. For organizations trying to develop knowledge sharing communities, it therefore seems essential to consider users with high levels of trendsetting in particular and to create positive experiences for them. In contrast, individuals with high levels of opinion leadership are not necessarily attracted by the novelty of a task itself, but tend to generally try to influence others on topics they regard as important (Gnambs & Batinic, 2012b). As a result of their rather communicative nature and social orientation, it was hypothesized that they would participate in knowledge sharing communities to promote important topics and thus indirectly influence others with their contributions. However, on Wikipedia at least, this does not seem to be the case. If anything, opinion leadership is negatively correlated with knowledge sharing. Three explanations might account for these findings. First, a central requirement for the publication of texts on Wikipedia is the need to take an objective point of view. Texts, especially on controversial topics, should present opposing views objectively, without taking a specific side. As individuals high in opinion leadership seek to voice their subjective opinions (Rogers, 2003), the need for objectivity could limit their active contributions on Wikipedia. Moreover, because Wikipedia is envisioned as an encyclopedian resource, it simply might not include the specialized topics most opinion leaders consider important. Second, the lack of direct interaction with others might be a dissuasive factor to their engagement in Wikipedia. Individuals high in opinion leadership typically influence their social reference group in personal conversations (Weimann, 1991). Situations where direct contact with others is not possible or are of a rather limited degree as on Wikipedia might be less attractive for them. Third, the results might also be a consequence of the distinct pattern of media consumption reported previously for opinion leadership (Rogers, 2003). Individuals with high levels of opinion leadership read news papers and magazines more frequently and watch television more often than those with low levels of the trait (Vernette, 2004). As Wikipedia is the central resource of information on the Internet for diverse topics, opinion leaders seem to use Wikipedia to stay informed about certain topics. Thus, it is primarily among readers of Wikipedia, among those who use and apply the provided information, that individuals with high levels of opinion leadership are well represented. They influence others to a lesser extent by creating new texts, but use the published information to influence their close social network (Rogers, 2003). As a consequence, for organization seeking to communicate, for example, new product lines to their consumers, it seems prudent to provide qualitative information that attracts individuals high in opinion leadership who would propagate the respective message

within their social circle." (pp. 214-215)
within their social circle." (pp. 214-215)
Data sourceSurvey responses +
Doi10.1016/j.chb.2012.08.007 +
Google scholar urlhttp://scholar.google.com/scholar?ie=UTF-8&q=%22Personality%2Btraits%2Band%2Bknowledge%2Bsharing%2Bin%2Bonline%2Bcommunities%22 +
Has authorTanja Jadin +, Timo Gnambs + and Bernad Batinic +
Has domainComputer science +, Information systems + and Psychology +
Has topicContributor motivation +
Issue1 +
Pages210–216 +
Peer reviewedYes +
Publication typeJournal article +
Published inComputers in Human Behavior +
Research designStatistical analysis +
Research questions"the objective of the present study was to explore the role of stable personality characteristics in knowledge sharing in open content projects" (p. 210)
Revid11,251 +
Theoriesdiffusion theory (Rogers, 2003) and the concept of social value orientation (Van Lange, De Bruin, Otten, & Joireman, 1997)
Theory typeExplanation +
TitlePersonality traits and knowledge sharing in online communities
Unit of analysisUser +
Urlhttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563212002427 +
Volume29 +
Wikipedia coverageMain topic +
Wikipedia data extractionN/A +
Wikipedia languageNot specified +
Wikipedia page typeN/A +
Year2013 +