Developing Social Capital in
Online Communities:
The Challenge of Fluidity
Dr. David Wagner (@dw_p)
Presentation prepared ...
2
Outline
1. Motivation
2. Theoretical foundation
3. Fluidity of online communities
4. Propositions/research model
5. Disc...
3
1. Motivation
• Online communities (OCs) are new organizational forms (Butler 2001;
Sproull and Arriaga 2007) and have e...
4
1. Motivation
• Social capital provides an extremely useful lens through which to
explore (online) collaborative relatio...
5
2. Theoretical Foundation
• Three forms of capital (Bourdieu 1986)
• 1. Economic capital, 2. Cultural capital, 3. Social...
6
2. Theoretical Foundation
Source: Own illustration, adapted from Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998)
Inter-
dependence
Stability...
7
3. Fluidity of Online Communities
• Collaboration in OCs is different from traditional offline settings
(stable team mem...
8
3. Fluidity of Online Communities
Source: Faraj et al. 2011 p. 126
9
4. Propositions
• Proposition 1: The greater the fluidity of an OC, the lower will be the
degree of closure within the c...
10
4. Proposed Research Model
Inter-
dependence
Stability
Closure
Interaction
Antecedents
Outcome
Social Capital
Fluidity
...
11
5. Discussion
• “The technology today [is] generally not an effective social medium
and relying on it for community, co...
12
6. Contributions
• Contributions to theory:
• Response to calls by fellow researchers who suggest that new
digital real...
13
Contact details
Dr. David Wagner
Post Doc/Assistant Professor
Digital Strategy & Innovation
+49 (0)7131 6456 36-85
davi...
14
References
Adler, P. S., and Kwon, S.-W. 2002. “Social Capital: Prospects for a New Concept,” The Academy of
Management...
15
References
Jaworski, B. J. 2011. “On Managerial Relevance,” Journal of Marketing (75:4), pp. 211–224.
Kane, G. C., Fich...
16
Problem/
Domain Definition
Initial Ideas
Hypothesis Testing
Improved Hypothesis
Knowledge Development Stages
ContextofD...
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Conference: Developing Social Capital in Online Communities: The Challenge of Fluidity

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This is a presentation prepared for the 2014 Americas Conference on Information Systems held in Savannah, Georgia, from August 7-9, 2014.

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Conference: Developing Social Capital in Online Communities: The Challenge of Fluidity

  1. 1. Developing Social Capital in Online Communities: The Challenge of Fluidity Dr. David Wagner (@dw_p) Presentation prepared for the 2014 Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS) Mini-Track on Social Theory in Information Systems Research II Savannah, GA August 9, 2014
  2. 2. 2 Outline 1. Motivation 2. Theoretical foundation 3. Fluidity of online communities 4. Propositions/research model 5. Discussion 6. Contributions
  3. 3. 3 1. Motivation • Online communities (OCs) are new organizational forms (Butler 2001; Sproull and Arriaga 2007) and have enjoyed rapid growth in recent years (Chui et al. 2012) • Online Communities (OCs) are “collectives of dispersed individuals, whose members share a common interest, experience, or conviction and positive regard for other members, who interact with one another and contribute to the collectivity primarily via the Internet, and these communities attend to both their individual and their collective welfare” (Faraj et al. 2011 p. 1224). • OCs are used by organizations to harness the knowledge of various stakeholders (McAfee 2009) and they support knowledge collaboration (Faraj et al. 2011; Ransbotham and Kane 2011)
  4. 4. 4 1. Motivation • Social capital provides an extremely useful lens through which to explore (online) collaborative relationships (Cohen and Prusak 2001; Huysman and Wulf 2004; Nahapiet and Ghoshal 1998) • Social capital may be defined as “the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition” (Bourdieu 1986 p. 248) • Scholars’ attention has been imbalanced towards the effects of social capital (Adler and Kwon, 2002); little is known about its antecedents (Arregle et al. 2007; Bolino et al. 2002; Poder 2011). • Existing theories of social capital may not fit the digital realities involving OCs, hence adaptations may be required (Corley and Gioia 2011; Majchrzak 2009, Puranam et al. 2014) RQ: How can social capital be developed in online communities?
  5. 5. 5 2. Theoretical Foundation • Three forms of capital (Bourdieu 1986) • 1. Economic capital, 2. Cultural capital, 3. Social capital • Four sources of social capital (Nahapiet and Ghoshal 1998) 1. Closure • Extent to which the actors in a network are connected to one another (Battilana and Casciaro 2012) 2. Stability • Investments of time in social relations and social organization (Nahapiet and Ghoshal 1998) 3. Interdependence • Expectations regarding the obligations of group members (Bourdieu 1986) 4. Interaction • Exchanges that constitute formal organization (Nahapiet and Ghoshal 1998)
  6. 6. 6 2. Theoretical Foundation Source: Own illustration, adapted from Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998) Inter- dependence Stability Closure Interaction Antecedents Outcome Social Capital
  7. 7. 7 3. Fluidity of Online Communities • Collaboration in OCs is different from traditional offline settings (stable team membership, convergence after divergence, repeated people-to-people interactions, goalsharing, and feelings of interdependence) (Faraj et al. 2011). • One of the central features characterizing OCs is their fluidity (Faraj et al. 2011; Kane et al. 2009; Schreyögg and Sydow 2010). • Fluidity is a type of dynamism that allows resources, such as passion, time, social disembodiment of ideas, socially ambiguous identities, and temporary convergence, to flow into and out of the network. Fluidity also means that boundaries, norms, participants, artifacts, interactions, and foci continually change over time (Faraj et al. 2011). • Fluid organizational forms are highly flexible social structures that enable constant change (Schreyögg and Sydow 2010).
  8. 8. 8 3. Fluidity of Online Communities Source: Faraj et al. 2011 p. 126
  9. 9. 9 4. Propositions • Proposition 1: The greater the fluidity of an OC, the lower will be the degree of closure within the community and, thus, the lower the possibility for social capital to develop. • Proposition 2: The greater the fluidity of an OC, the lower will be the degree of interaction stability within the community and, thus, the lower the possibility for social capital to develop. • Proposition 3: The greater the fluidity of an OC, the lower will be the degree of interdependence within the community and, thus, the lower the possibility for social capital to develop. • Proposition 4: The greater the fluidity in OCs, the higher the likelihood of interaction ambiguity within the community and, thus, the lower the possibility for social capital to develop.
  10. 10. 10 4. Proposed Research Model Inter- dependence Stability Closure Interaction Antecedents Outcome Social Capital Fluidity - - - -
  11. 11. 11 5. Discussion • “The technology today [is] generally not an effective social medium and relying on it for community, connection and understanding – for social capital – is a mistake” (Cohen & Prusak 2001 p. 163). • Some reservations justified, BUT: While fluidity is a potential threat to social capital development, there are a number of things we can do. • Social capital theory can substantially inform the design and management of OCs in order to maximize the potential they hold: • Closure: Organizing for cohesion (e.g., sub-communities) • Stability: Encouraging repeated encounters (e.g., transaction histories, long-term identifiers) • Interdependence: Organizing around common purpose (e.g., knowledge sharing) or fate (e.g., medical condition) • Interactions: Helping previously unknown community members to find and interact with each other (e.g., recommendation systems)
  12. 12. 12 6. Contributions • Contributions to theory: • Response to calls by fellow researchers who suggest that new digital realities require adaptation of existing theories (Corley and Gioia 2011; Majchrzak 2009). • Move beyond a focus on social capital effects by considering its development (Arregle et al. 2007; Bolino et al. 2002; Poder 2011). • Focus on a particularly innovative organizational form, namely online communities (Butler 2001; Majchrzak 2009; Puranam et al. 2014) • Theory development by leveraging an established theory to explore a new, unexplained phenomenon (Yadav 2010). • Implications for practice: • Paper generates insights into how OCs should be designed and managed from a social capital point of view (Kraut & Resnick 2011). • Insights are relevant for managers of social media and online communities, a new, but increasingly important profession (Jaworski 2011; Kane et al. 2009).
  13. 13. 13 Contact details Dr. David Wagner Post Doc/Assistant Professor Digital Strategy & Innovation +49 (0)7131 6456 36-85 david.wagner@ggs.de www.kpsquared.org
  14. 14. 14 References Adler, P. S., and Kwon, S.-W. 2002. “Social Capital: Prospects for a New Concept,” The Academy of Management Review (27:1), pp. 17–40. Arregle, J.-L., Hitt, M. A., Sirmon, D. G., and Very, P. 2007. “The Development of Organizational Social Capital: Attributes of Family Firms,” Journal of Management Studies (44:1), pp. 73–95. Battilana, J., and Casciaro, T. 2012. “Change Agents, Networks, and Institutions: A Contingency Theory of Organizational Change.,” Academy of Management Journal (55:2), pp. 381–398. Bolino, M. C., Turnley, W. H., and Bloodgood, J. M. 2002. “Citizenship Behavior and the Creation of Social Capital in Organizations,” Academy of Management Review (27:4), pp. 505–522. Bourdieu, P. 1986. “The Forms of Capital,” in Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education, J. Richardson (ed.), New York, NY: Greenwood, pp. 241–258. Butler, B. S. 2001. “Membership Size, Communication Activity, and Sustainability: A Resource-Based Model of Online Social Structures,” Information Systems Research (12:4), pp. 346–362. Chui, M., Manyika, J., Bughin, J., Dobbs, R., Roxburg, C., Sarrazin, H., Sands, G., and Westergren, M. 2012. “The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity Through Social Technologies,” Washington, DC: McKinsey Global Institute (available at http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/mgi/research/technology_and_innovation/the_social_economy). Cohen, D., and Prusak, L. 2001. In Good Company: How Social Capital Makes Organizations Work, Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press. Corley, K. G., and Gioia, D. A. 2011. “Building Theory About Theory Building: What Constitutes a Theoretical Contribution?,” Academy of Management Review (36:1), pp. 12–32. Faraj, S., Jarvenpaa, S. L., and Majchrzak, A. 2011. “Knowledge Collaboration in Online Communities,” Organization Science (22:5), pp. 1224–1239. Huysman, M., and Wulf, V. 2004. Social Capital and Information Technology, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  15. 15. 15 References Jaworski, B. J. 2011. “On Managerial Relevance,” Journal of Marketing (75:4), pp. 211–224. Kane, G. C., Fichman, R. G., Gallaugher, J., and Glaser, J. 2009. “Community Relations 2.0.,” Harvard Business Review (87:11), pp. 45–50. Kane, G. C., Majchrzak, A., Johnson, J., and Chenisern, L. 2009. “A Longitudinal Model of Perspective Making and Perspective Taking Within Fluid Online Collectives.,” in ICIS 2009 Proceedings. Kraut, R. E., and Resnick, P. 2011. Building Successful Online Communities: Evidence-Based Social Design, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Majchrzak, A. 2009. “Comment: Where is the Theory in Wikis?,” MIS Quarterly (33:1), pp. 18–20. Nahapiet, J., and Ghoshal, S. 1998. “Social Capital, Intellectual Capital, and the Organizational Advantage,” Academy of Management Review (23:2), pp. 242–266. Poder, T. 2011. “What is Really Social Capital? A Critical Review,” American Sociologist (42:4), pp. 341–367. Puranam, P., Alexy, O., and Reitzig, M. 2014. “What’s ‘New’ About New Forms of Organizing?,” Academy of Management Review (39:2), pp. 162–180. Ransbotham, S., and Kane, G. C. 2011. “Membership Turnover and Collaboration Success in Online Communities: Explaining Rises and Falls from Grace in Wikipedia,” MIS Quarterly (35:3), pp. 613– 627. Schreyögg, G., and Sydow, J. 2010. “Organizing for Fluidity? Dilemmas of New Organizational Forms,” Organization Science (21:6), pp. 1251–1262. Sproull, L., and Arriaga, M. 2007. “Online Communities,” in Handbook of Computer Networks: Distributed Networks, Network Planning, Control, Management, and New Trends and Applications, H. Bidgoli (ed.), Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. Yadav, M. S. 2010. “The Decline of Conceptual Articles and Implications for Knowledge Development,” Journal of Marketing (74:1), pp. 1–19.
  16. 16. 16 Problem/ Domain Definition Initial Ideas Hypothesis Testing Improved Hypothesis Knowledge Development Stages ContextofDiscoveryContextofJustification Strategies for Theory Development Initiating Theory Development • Use analogy • Invoke a theory type • Move to another level of analysis • Use interrelations Theory Assessment & Enhancement • Review & critique • Develop theoretical enhancements to address mixed/ambiguous evidence • Identify and address gaps in extant conceptualizations Appendix: Strategies for Theory Development, adapted from Yadav 2010 p. 62

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