Lurking: a challenge or a fruitful strategy? A comparison between lurkers and active participants in an online corporate community of practice

Mirjam Neelen, Sibren Fetter

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    Abstract

    For today’s organizations to obtain competitive advantages, online corporate Communities of Practice (CoPs) are indispensable. However, often the majority of its participants does not post content; they lurk. This paper explores four different perspectives on lurking; that is free-riding, legitimate peripheral participation, microlearning, and knowledge sharing barriers, and analyzes whether and why they are detrimental or fruitful for the knowledge management process. Furthermore, this study compares lurkers and active participants of an online corporate CoP in the light of the perspectives as presented above. First, the results of this study indicate that lurkers use the obtained knowledge on the job and therefore cannot simply be considered free-riders. Second, study results suggest that lurkers use lurking as a learning strategy, which confirms the microlearning hypothesis. Last, the results of this study indicate that knowledge sharing barriers are delicate matters that might potentially be detrimental for the knowledge management process.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages24
    JournalInternational Journal of Knowledge and Learning (IJKL)
    Volume6
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Keywords

    • lurking
    • online community
    • corporate online community
    • knowledge management

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