An interpretive study of the co-creation of knowledge in an online community

  • Hamed Heshmati Rafsanjani

Student thesis: Phd


The advances in online technology has revolutionised online communication. As a result of new emerging web technologies virtual interactions have taken a much more interactive structure. These improvements in technology provide richer communication experiences for the users. Online communities, with the aid of new web 2.0 technology, provide the ideal environment for knowledge sharing. It is the interaction and communication between users of such communities that triggers information and knowledge sharing. Knowledge and information sharing sets the foundation for knowledge creation and co-creation. Meanwhile knowledge is known to be one of the greatest assets of any company or organisation. A significant amount of research has been dedicated to knowledge management. Nevertheless little research has been done to explore knowledge creation and co-creation, particularly in an online community setting.This research is investigating the idea of knowledge co-creation within an online community environment. Knowing that knowledge itself is a subjective entity, which cannot be objectively measured or quantified, the research takes an interpretive approach to finding out how this knowledge is co-created by the users of online communities.One of the main significant factors of this study is that it has used a unique and novel research method to tackle what appears to be a difficult subject. The research uses an interpretive case study method, however without any data collection. The investigation will be exclusively interpretive and philosophically evaluated based on the relevant literature and a set of principles introduced by Klein and Myers (1999). These principles were introduced as a guideline for conducting and evaluating interpretive studies in information systems. Using Klein and Myers' principles has the advantage of being based on a well-established contemporary literature in information systems (IS) research methodology. The principles have not been used in an exclusively exploratory and interpretive research before. This itself is a major methodological contribution for future researchers to utilise as a practical example.The study develops a conceptual framework around knowledge co-creation, online communities and the technology. This framework is based on a proposed RECI model offered for knowledge creation in online communities. It also investigates the role of technology in the co-creation process. Finally it proposes a set of characteristics and guidelines that facilitate knowledge co-creation in online communities. These characteristics and guidelines would help design and implement future knowledge co-creating online communities, for example, e-learning and knowledge management systems. Furthermore the research lays the foundations for introducing the knowledge co-creation theory within online communities by proposing the initial hypothesis. Subject to appropriate future research and testing, the hypothesis can be developed into a practical theory.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorA Wood-Harper (Supervisor) & James Wood (Supervisor)


  • Online communities, Knowledge co-creation, Knowledge sharing, Technology, Web 2.0, Collaboration, Interpretive research, Hermeneutical cycle.

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