In recent research, Information School alumni Xuguang Li, Senior lecturer Dr. Andrew Cox and Zefeng Wang from Shenzhen Energy Group Co explored a LinkedIn Dell User Group, where users help each other to fix product problems, as a case study in how social network sites can support the construction of knowledge.

They found that the groups users were actively engaged in collaborative construction of knowledge and that a key phase in this knowledge construction took place in discussions categorised as “proposing a new idea”. The research also found that the collaboration was supported by the ways that the LinkedIn platform enables one-to-one interaction. In the group there was frequent usage of the technical symbol @ to communicate with particular members about testing their idea, to ask focused questions and more.

The authors argue that the visibility of the users’ identity in the group was key to the cooperation and lack of verbal abuse that they saw in the activities on the platform.

‘In contrast to open technical support forums sponsored by producers, visible identities of participants and norms of cooperation developed on LinkedIn avoid trolling behaviours and verbal abuse.’ (Li, Cox and Wang, 2018, 13)

You can find the paper in Issue 3 of Volume 42 of Online Information Review:
Xuguang Li, Andrew Cox, Zefeng Wang, “How do social network sites support product users’ knowledge construction? A Study of LinkedIn”, Online Information Review,

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Online Information Review (OIR) is an international, double blind peer-reviewed, ISI-listed journal devoted to research in the broad field of digital information and communication, and related technologies. The journal provides a multi-disciplinary forum for scholars from a range of fields, including information studies/iSchools, data studies, internet studies, media and communication studies and information systems.


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