Knowledge sharing by entrepreneurs in a virtual community of practice (VCoP)

Khalid Hafeez, Fathalla M. Alghatas, Pantea Foroudi, Bang Nguyen, Suraksha Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper examines how entrepreneurs engage in a Virtual Community of Practice (VCoP) to share knowledge. Intensity of engagement is taken as a proxy to measure the strength of knowledge sharing.

The archival data spanning over a three-year period from ‘Start-up-Nation©’ (a VCoP purposefully setup for entrepreneurs) is used for analysis. A set of indices are introduced to measure participants’ intensity of engagement in terms of message length, message frequency and reciprocity in the knowledge sharing process. Content analysis is employed to test a sample of ‘highly engaged’, ‘moderately engaged’, ‘low engaged’ and ‘not engaged’ discussion topics as part of the on-line discourse.

We find that entrepreneurs normally use short (fewer than 100 words) or medium (fewer than 250 words) message size to contribute to the discussions. In addition, we find that senior members and discussion moderators play important roles in igniting the ‘reciprocity’ behaviour in stimulating the interest of the community with the topic discussion. We also find
that highly engaged topics usually lead to further discussion threads.

This is the first study of its kind to explore how entrepreneurs engage in a VCoP to share their knowledge and experiences. The set of measurement indices tested here provide a tool for the owner, designer and moderator of the VCoP to measure the utility of their website in terms of its members’ participation. In addition, the set of textual and subjective interventions identified here enable the moderator (administrator) of a VCoP to design effective interventions to facilitate on-line discourse and augment the knowledge sharing process amongst its community members.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-429
Number of pages25
JournalInformation Technology and People
Issue number2
Early online date15 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Communities of practice
  • Discourse analysis
  • Knowledge-based community
  • Shared knowledge
  • Virtual community
  • Content analysis
  • Engagement
  • Measurement indices
  • On-line discourse


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