When to Signal? The Contextual Conditions for Career-Motivated User Contributions in Online Collaboration Communities

Lee, Jeongsik ”Jay”
Park, Hyunwoo
Zaggl, Michael
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This paper examines the contextual conditions for users’ career concern as a motivational driver of contributions in online collaboration communities. On the data of user-level activities from a computer programming-related online Q&A community (Stack Overflow), merged with job-market data for software-developer, we find robust evidence of a positive association between individual users’ career concern and their contributions. More important, we find that this positive relationship is further strengthened through the contextual 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 within the community. We contribute to the literature on motivation in online collaboration communities. Our study thus offers insight into how career concern can be effectively utilized to motivate contributors in these communities. Our findings also foreshadow a possible paradigm change by characterizing online collaboration communities as institutions of career concern and skill signaling.
Collaboration in Online Communities: Information Processing and Decision Making, career concern, job-market signaling, motivation, online collaboration, online communities
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