User’s feedback contribution to enhance professional online community: a motivational process

Date12 August 2019
Publication Date12 August 2019
AuthorTingting Zhang,William Yu Chung Wang,Angsana A. Techatassanasoontorn
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Knowledge management,Knowledge management systems
Users feedback contribution to
enhance professional online
community: a motivational process
Tingting Zhang
School of Economics and Management, University of Science and Technology
Beijing, Beijing, China
William Yu Chung Wang
School of Management and Marketing,
University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, and
Angsana A. Techatassanasoontorn
Department of Business Information Systems, Auckland University of Technology,
Auckland, New Zealand
Purpose The purpose of this study is to investigatethe motivational process underlying usersintention
to provide feedback on user-contributed knowledge in professional online communities. User feedback can
serve as a means of indicating the credibility of the online content, whichcan help community members in
their knowledge-seekingprocess. Adopting such a user feedback mechanismis benecial for users to identify
relevantand credible content efciently and for an onlinecommunity to sustain itself.
Design/methodology/approach Drawing on self-determination theory, an integrated model is
proposed. In this model, behavioural intention is dened as the consequence of motivational orientations
whose antecedences include various social factors. The model is empirically tested using survey data
collectedonline and the structural equation modelling techniques.
Findings The results show that usersintention to provide feedback is primarily inuenced by
autonomous motivation. Autonomous motivation is in turn affected by social factors, including reciprocity,
online reputation, trust in the user involvement mechanisms and affective and normative community
Originality/value This study adds value to prior studiesby stressing the signicance and feasibility of
user feedback in helping membersof professional online communities with their knowledge-seekingprocess.
It also contributes to the literature on user participation in these communities by showing the efcacy of a
motivational process perspective and the role of motivational orientations, in particular, in explainingusers
Keywords Knowledge sharing, Quantitative research
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
In a digital society, professional online communities where professionals communicate and
interact with each other have been playing an increasingly important role in professionals
careers (KwangWook and Ravichandran, 2015). Searching for work-relatedknowledge from
The authors acknowledge the nancial supports of the China National Natural Science Foundation
Project (grant number 71531013; 71729001) during data analysis and writing the manuscript.
Received22 November 2018
Revised11 April 2019
Accepted25 April 2019
VINEJournal of Information and
KnowledgeManagement Systems
Vol.49 No. 3, 2019
pp. 307-326
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/VJIKMS-11-2018-0108
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
professional online communities appears to be the most frequent informal learning activity
that professionals have used (Thompson, 2011;Prestridge, 2019). A professional online
community can be dened as a cyberspace supported by computer-based information
technology, centred upon communication and interaction of participants to generate
member-driven knowledge of a specic domain, and resulting in a relationship being built
(Chen, 2007). Its primary goal is to provide a platform for professionals to share and
exchange their knowledgein a particular eld without the need to be co-located.
A challenge for professional online communities is the need to nd ways to offer users
with easy access to useful andreliable knowledge contributions, which is important to their
success and growth in the long run. Although having a large user-contributed knowledge
pool is highly desirable, professionals may nd it difcult to search for useful content in a
professional online community (Dimensional Research, 2012). In some cases, professionals
can be misled by poor-quality or even incorrectuser contributions. This is partly because a
substantial increase in the amount of knowledge contributions raises the danger of
information overload and increases the variation in the quality of usersknowledge
contributions(Chen et al.,2011).
Prior studies suggest that users tend to reply on othersfeedback when they search for
content in professional online communities(Sutanto and Jiang, 2013). Users value feedback
from other users because the feedback helps them to screen the credibility of knowledge
(Chen et al.,2019), save time for their knowledge search and evaluation process(Poston and
Speier, 2005) and increase the likelihood of the use of knowledge found in online
communities (Chen, 2007). Hence, user feedback is a valuable and intuitive indicator for
indicating the credibility and relevance of the content in professional online communities
(Sutanto and Jiang, 2013). This is especiallythe case when user feedback is presented in less
cognitive-demanding forms of rating, voting, ranking and other similar forms (Xu et al.,
2017). The aggregated results of a number of user ratings and rankings can be a reliable
indicator of the credibility of the knowledge (Poston and Speier, 2005). Hence, users
feedback is likely to serve as an effective and pragmatic approach to assist members of
professional online communities with knowledge seeking (Yan and Jian, 2017). This
feedback mechanismis henceforth referred to as a user feedback mechanism.
In addition, usersactive participation in providing feedback is an importantpredictor of
knowledge contribution in online communities (Chen et al., 2019).The number of feedbacks
received by a knowledge contributorcan suggest the degree of a sense of connectivity with
peers and belonging to the online community (Fang et al., 2018). Receiving comments from
peers is related to newcomersinvolvement in ongoing participation and existing users
subsequent engagement in communityactivities (Bornfeld and Rafaeli, 2019). Votes gained
from online contribution can drive participantscontinued participation in online
communities (Chenet al., 2019).
Although strong user participation in providing feedback is benecial to both
professional online communities and their members, it appears that extant literature is
inadequate to explain a full motivational process underlying this activity (Malhotra
et al., 2008;Zhang et al., 2014). Hence, this study uses self-determination theory (SDT)
to examine usersunderlying motivation to provide feedback on knowledge
contributions in professional online communities. The following sections present a
review on related literature, the research model and hypotheses. Subsequently,
methods for measures development and data collection are explained, followed by the
description of data analysis and results. Finally, the results are discussed before the
paper concludes.

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