Research Output

Social exchange, social capital and information sharing in online environments: lessons from three case studies.

  This paper covers the themes of exchange theory, social exchange theory and social
capital as related to information and knowledge sharing in online environments. It
presents findings from three cases where individuals were encouraged to share
information online in the expectation that this would lead to new knowledge creation.
The work presented aligns with that of others who have recognized that social
exchange theory may be deployed as an innovative means of analyzing economic and
non-economic transactions between individuals and organizations (Bignoux, 2006, p.
619). The findings both inform, and raise questions, about motivating information
sharing in online environments with reference to both the provision of incentives to
participate, and the management of social capital. From the analysis of the three case
studies it is concluded that the degree to which information may be exchanged in
online environments relies more heavily on the extent to which actors are socially
integrated with one another than it does on other factors such as investment in
technical infrastructure, dedicated staffing or financial incentives for information
sharing. Thus these findings indicate that those who hope to enhance information
sharing practice online need to pay more attention to the means by which they make it
possible for potential participants to build relationships of trust with one another, and
less attention to the design of formal incentive structures.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper (unpublished)

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    006 Special Computer Methods

  • Funders:

    The authors acknowledge the support of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of


Hall, H. & Widen-Wulff, G. Social exchange, social capital and information sharing in online environments: lessons from three case studies.. Paper presented at USE-2008: From information provision to knowledge production, Oulu, Finland. (Unpublished)



incentives; information sharing; knowledge creation; social exchange theory; social capital;

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