The conditions that hindered knowledge sharing and open innovation in an online Business Social Network.

Lucia Marchegiani*, Federica Brunetta, M.C. Annosi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article explains the main mechanisms influencing the knowledge collaboration dynamics occurring across an online business community. Prior research study had conceived firms as autonomous entities competing against each other to reach the competitive advantage. Nonetheless, online business social networks (BSNs) can be seen as networks of organizations that interact within digital structures, providing an optimal locus to foster external knowledge flows, enabling participants to share knowledge across organizational boundaries, and eventually leading to open innovation outcomes. We analyze how virtual networks of business relationships influence the form of knowledge collaboration firms can be engaged in. We analyze the entire three-year collaborative history of a BSN. After a promising launch of the BSN, it declined and failed. By analyzing front- and backstage combined with organizational and technological features of the online business community, we identify and discuss five categories of mechanisms affecting the knowledge collaboration over time and reducing the firms’ uncertainty in exchanging information: first, orchestrators’ skills and competencies in running the online platform; second, internal firm capabilities allocating proper organizational resources; third, usability of the digital platform; four, interconnections between frontstage and backstage combined with technological and organizational features; and fifth, perceived virtual copresence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Jun 2020


  • Collaboration , Knowledge engineering , Technological innovation , Social networking (online) , Organizations , Knowledge transfer

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