As firms in the information technology (IT) industry create increasingly complex products and face escalating service demands, they resort to customer peer-based solutions such as discussion boards to contain service costs. In discussion boards, customers post questions about products and receive answers from their peers. The sustainability of discussion boards depends on attracting volunteers who are willing to contribute answers to posted questions. Many IT firms use token recognition, such as titles, profiles, or lists of top 10 contributors, to motivate customer contribution. However, little is known about the effects of such incentives. By studying half a million postings collectively from the technical support discussion boards of four different IT companies, we find that some incentives can cannibalize socially based processes and reduce customer contribution. Our findings have implications for service firms as they strive to increase customer knowledge coproduction in service activities.
Gu, Bin and Jarvenpaa, Sirkka, "Online Discussion Boards for Technical Support: The Effect of Token Recognition on Customer Contributions" (2003). ICIS 2003 Proceedings. 10.