Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 29 Number 3 2012 pp. 87-116

Corporate Wikis: The Effects of Owners' Motivation and Behavior on Group Members' Engagement

Arazy, Ofer and Gellatly, Ian R

ABSTRACT: Originally designed as a tool to alleviate bottlenecks associated with knowledge management, the suitability of wikis for corporate settings has been questioned given the inherent tensions between wiki affordances and the realities of organizational life. Drawing on regulatory focus theory and social cognitive theory, we developed and tested a model of the motivational dynamics underlying corporate wikis. We examined leaders (owners) and users of 187 wiki-based projects within a large multinational firm. Our findings revealed two countervailing motivational forces, one oriented toward accomplishment and achievement (promotion focus) and one oriented toward safety and security (prevention focus), that not only predicted owners' participation but also the overall level of engagement within the wiki groups. Our primary contribution is in showing that, notwithstanding the potential benefits to users, wikis can trigger risk-avoidance motives that potentially impede engagement. Practically, our findings call for an alignment between organizational procedures surrounding wiki deployment and the technology's affordances.

Key words and phrases: knowledge management, knowledge management systems, knowledge sharing, motivation, owner, regulatory focus theory, social cognitive theory, wiki