Corporate Knowledge Management with Wikis: Understanding Sustainability, Contributor Rationale, and Participative Actions

Project: Research

View graph of relations


Wikis have emerged as a technology that enables employees and other stakeholders to actively participate in companies’ knowledge management efforts. The intention is to overcome the resistance to knowledge sharing encountered in many organizations, and creating competitive advantage through the effective capture of stakeholder knowledge. Knowledge management with wikis differs from traditional approaches where knowledge exists as static, unchangeable content. Wiki content can be changed by anyone instantaneously with very little effort or technology expertise via an edit button on every webpage. Based on this feature, wikis permit incremental and collaborative knowledge creation which is impossible otherwise.Recognizing the unique approach to knowledge creation enabled by wikis, IT Consultancy Gartner predicted in 2004 a 50% adoption rate among major firms by 2009. To date, however, little evidence exists concerning the success of wiki-enabled collaborative knowledge management, and even less evidence concerning the mechanisms that would impact success or failure of wiki-based corporate websites. Furthermore, some arguments raise doubts about the possible effectiveness of corporate wikis, despite their success in open sites such as or Wikipedia. Specifically, while wikis promote collaborative behaviors with little or no recognition of individual action, corporate incentive systems typically value individual contribution and thus should discourage wiki contributions. Additionally, while wiki proponents stress the importance of enabling anyone to modify wiki content, significant changes, such as deletion or drastic editing of others’ content appear to be rare and are often negatively sanctioned. In light of these apparently counter-productive factors within corporate environments, three major research questions emerge: (1) Are wiki-based corporate knowledge management efforts successful, creating valuable and sustainable knowledge assets? (2) What factors motivate contribution behaviors? (3) How do contributors interact with corporate wikis (what types of contributions do they make)?This research will be carried out in three phases, beginning with a survey of contributors to corporate wikis. The survey will seek both internal users (employees) and external stakeholder, such as consultants, who make contributions to companies’ community sites, thus addressing the first two research questions. Wiki contributors (ideally those who participated in the survey) will be interviewed in the second phase to understand in depth why and how they participate (both for successful and unsuccessful wikis), thus addressing research questions two and three. The last phase will seek to corroborate findings from the second phase through an analysis of emergent wiki based content, extracted from wiki change logs.


Project number9041464
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/1027/03/13