Corporate wikis: The effects of owners' motivation and behavior on group members' engagement

Ofer Arazy, Ian Gellatly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Originally designed as a tool to alleviate bottlenecks associated with knowledge management, the suitability of wikis for corporate settings has been questioned given the inherent tensions between wiki affordances and the realities of organizational life. Drawing on regulatory focus theory and social cognitive theory, we developed and tested a model of the motivational dynamics underlying corporate wikis. We examined leaders (owners) and users of 187 wiki-based projects within a large multinational firm. Our findings revealed two countervailing motivational forces, one oriented toward accomplishment and achievement (promotion focus) and one oriented toward safety and security (prevention focus), that not only predicted owners' participation but also the overall level of engagement within the wiki groups. Our primary contribution is in showing that, notwithstanding the potential benefits to users, wikis can trigger risk-avoidance motives that potentially impede engagement. Practically, our findings call for an alignment between organizational procedures surrounding wiki deployment and the technology's affordances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-116
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Management Information Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: the authors thank Soobaek Jang and raymond Patterson for providing comments on earlier drafts of this paper. this research was funded in part by the Social Sciences and Humanities research Council of Canada (SSHrC).


  • knowledge management (KM)
  • knowledge management systems (KMS)
  • knowledge sharing
  • motivation
  • owner
  • regulatory focus theory
  • social cognitive theory
  • wiki

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Information Systems and Management


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