Identifying factors that encourage and hinder knowledge sharing in a longstanding online community of practice

Khe Foon Hew
Nanyang Technological University

Noriko Hara
Indiana University, Bloomington


Despite the strong interests among practitioners, there is a knowledge gap with regard to online communities of practice. This study examines knowledge sharing among critical-care and advanced-practice nurses, who are engaged in a longstanding online community of practice. Data were collected about members’ online knowledge contribution as well as motivations for sharing or not sharing knowledge with others. In sum, 27 interviews with members and content analysis of approximately 400 messages were conducted. Data analysis showed that the most common types of knowledge shared were “Institutional Practice” and “Personal Opinion”. Five factors were found that helped motivate knowledge sharing: (a) self-selection type of membership, (b) desire to improve the nursing profession, (c) reciprocity, (d) a non-competitive environment, and (e) the role of the listserv moderator. Regarding barriers for knowledge sharing, four were found: (a) no new or additional knowledge to add, (b) unfamiliarity with subject, (c) lack of time, and (d) technology. These results will be informative to researchers and practitioners of online communities of practice.

About the Author(s)...

Khe Foon Hew is an Assistant Professor in the Learning Sciences and Technology Academic Group at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Dr. Hew’s research interests include online learning, community of practice, and K-12 technology integration. He may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Noriko Hara is an Assistant Professor of Information Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. Dr. Hara’s research interests include community of practice, knowledge sharing, collective action with information and communication technology, and social informatics. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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