An Empirical Examination of Peer vs. Expert Advice in Online Forums

Fadel, Kelly
Jensen, Matthew
Matthews, Michael
Meservy, Tom
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Online discussion forums sponsored by electronic networks of practice offer a popular platform for a variety of participants to share their knowledge and provide feedback, including subject matter experts and a larger body of “peer” forum users with no particular expertise. Although prior research suggests that both expert and peer forum contributions can influence information seekers, current literature offers little guidance that explains how and when one is more influential than the other. This paper reports the results of two studies, a structured survey and a choice-based conjoint study, conducted to empirically validate a previously derived conceptual framework of 16 situational characteristics related to peer and expert advice seeking on forums. The results of our work offer theoretical and practical guidance for ongoing work in this area.
Collaboration in Online Communities: Information Processing and Decision Making, conjoint analysis, electronic network of practice, experts, online forums, peers
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