Online learning communities and their effects on relational capital

Date12 November 2018
Publication Date12 November 2018
AuthorJorge Cegarra-Sánchez,Ettore Bolisani,Juan-Gabriel Cegarra-Navarro,Eva Martínez Caro
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Knowledge management,Knowledge management systems
Online learning communities and
their eects on relational capital
Jorge Cegarra-Sánchez
Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Murcia, Murcia, Spain
Ettore Bolisani
Department of Management and Engineering, University of Padova, Vicenza, Italy
Juan-Gabriel Cegarra-Navarro
Facultad de Ciencias de la Empresa,
Universidad Politecnica de Cartagena, Cartagena, Spain, and
Eva Martínez Caro
Departamento de Economía de la Empresa,
Universidad Politecnica de Cartagena, Cartagena, Spain
Purpose An online learning community is dened as the context where knowledge sharing takes place
virtually. Prior research has revealed that it is fundamentally important for higher education institutions to
leverage on internal and external sources of knowledge, which can improve the value of relational capital.
However, in a higher education setting, the positive effects of relationship improvement because of knowledge
sharing can be jeopardized by the circulation of unveried information (i.e. counter-knowledge). The purpose of
this study has been to analyse if online learning communities can counteract the effects of counterknowledge.
Design/methodology/approach This study examinedthe relevance of online learning communitiesto
counteract counter-knowledge,along with how this, in turn, can affect the creation of relational capital from
the perspectiveof 210 undergraduate students using partial least squares.
Findings Results support that online learning communities may help universities to not only create
relational capital but also contribute to clarify misunderstandings and prevent counter-knowledge learned
from badlyinformed sources.
Originality/value There has been very limitedresearch aimed at developing an adequate frameworkto
analyze the role played by unveried information in universities. Therefore, this study lls this gap and
proposesa framework focusing on the concept of online learningcommunities.
Keywords Higher education, Relational capital, Counter-knowledge, Online learning communities
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Relational capital refers to all resources that are linked by an external relationship with the
institution (Martín de Castro et al., 2004). The literature emphasized the importance of
relational capital for all kinds of organization, including companies of all size (Welbourne
and Pardo-del-Val, 2009), public services (Ord
oñez de Pablos, 2004) and educational
institutions (Secundo et al.,2010). Relational capital is a framework of stakeholders as a
The authors gratefully acknowledge the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad of the
Spanish Government for nancing the research project ECO2017-88987-R (MINECO/FEDER;UE),
conanced from the European Union FEDER funds.
Received14 January 2018
Revised17 May 2018
Accepted25 August 2018
VINEJournal of Information and
KnowledgeManagement Systems
Vol.48 No. 4, 2018
pp. 491-503
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/VJIKMS-01-2018-0004
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