Information systems (IS) innovation researchers explain that in the early phases of IS innovation, organizations must acquire knowledge about, “what, “when”, “why” and “how” to innovate with information technologies (IT). To acquire this knowledge, innovators with IT may access business and technology publications or the more costly option of consulting services. However, widespread use of online communities has created a more cost effective way of learning about IT innovations and is now being used by organizations. Using online communities, organizations can circumvent logistical constraints to take advantage of networks of human capital. In this study we analysed collaborations in the online community OpenOffice.org. The study showed that successful knowledge sharing in online communities where interaction is temporal and focused requires context specific knowledge gaps. The analysis revealed patterns in the communication that exposed a taken-for-granted knowledge sharing mechanism we conceptualise as “gap-filling”. Within this mechanism “what I know” and “what I don’t know” statements provided a mechanism for identify context based knowledge gaps that enable participants to go from “know-what” to “know-how”.
Lawrence, Carl and Kuem, Jungwon, "Getting From ”Know-What” To ”Know-How” Via Online Communities: A Conversational Analysis Of An Openoffice.Org Language Project" (2012). PACIS 2012 Proceedings. 53.