Journal of Knowledge Management, Volume 19, Issue 2, April 2015.
Purpose The main aim of this study is to address the lack of research on the potential impact of the radical changes in social networking in the so-called network society and indirectly the need to manage and constructively share in the collateral knowledge creation. To do this, a tracking study of the knowledge creation and sharing in a discussion forum has been conducted from a knowledge management perspective. Design/methodology/approach A quantitative content analysis research design has been adopted in accordance with which content, text and messages on the website were critically examined, categories and themes identified and analysed, content coded and interpreted, and the results reported, relative to the research problem and theory.
Both substantive decisions (what and how to code) and technical decisions (how coding will be interpreted) were made during the coding process and the interpretation of the results (Keyton, 2015). Three levels of division were used in the development of the coding system, namely message construction; a summary of criteria and subcriteria; and main links and sublinks (Wagner et al., 2012). The unit of analysis was a website, specifically the southafrica.com online discussion forum, which presented an observable and measurable unit for the dissection of the text into components, criteria, subcriteria and elements to be analysed. Findings Two main findings emerged.
First, it was found empirically that knowledge intervention by an expert in the organisation is in fact possible (and indeed needed as a proactive means) to ensure new knowledge is created and shared by individuals in the forum on a continuous basis. Second, it was found that a good theoretical foundation or framework can indicate the importance of various aspects which should be considered to obtain useful results from the participants or members of the forum through knowledge management. Research limitations/implications The study is limited by the fact that it only focused on the measurement of knowledge management in one online discussion forum, southafrica.com, during two time frames from an organisational perspective in terms of the three Cs. Further research in other settings would enhance the findings of this study, and researchers are encouraged to use the theoretical framework in future studies.
Practical implications The main implication for managers in practice is that the research proved that participants in an online discussion forum quite often regard those members who manage the discussion forum as ‘experts’, but organisations then run the risk that the knowledge created and shared might not support, and/or might be detrimental to, the overall objectives and brand of the organisation. Originality/value This article proposes the use of a theoretical framework to measure knowledge management, as applied to the identified online discussion forum, focusing on the three main components of content, communication and consumer with subcriteria and elements of the knowledge management perspective specifically.
The main findings indicated that knowledge creation and sharing in online discussion forums is best supported if these components are proactively managed by an expert in the organisation to sustain and enhance successful communication.
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