Journal of the Association for Information Systems


Online collaboration communities are increasingly taking on new roles beyond knowledge creation and exchange, especially the role of a skill-signaling channel for career-motivated community members. This paper examines the contingency effects of job-market conditions for career-motivated knowledge contributions in online collaboration communities. From the data of individual-level activities in a computer programming-related online Q&A community (Stack Overflow), merged with job-market data for software developers, we find robust evidence of a positive association between community members’ career motivations and their knowledge contributions. More importantly, we find that this positive relationship is strengthened by job-market conditions: the number of vacancies in the job market, the expected salaries from these jobs, and the transparency in the flow of career-related information between the community and external recruiters. We contribute to the motivation literature in online collaboration communities by identifying and substantiating the role of contextual factors in mobilizing members’ career motivation. Our study thus offers novel insight into how career motivation can be effectively utilized to motivate contributors in these communities. Our findings also point to a possible paradigm change by characterizing online collaboration communities as emerging institutions for career motivation and skill signaling.





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