Influential Factors and the Realization Mechanism of Sustainable Information-Sharing in Virtual Communities from a Knowledge Fermenting Perspective
Little is known about sustainable information-sharing in virtual communities, although it is increasingly recognized as a useful information-sharing tool. The aim of this study is to explore the influential factors and the realization mechanism of sustainable information-sharing in virtual communities. Starting from the similarity between biological fermentation and the information-sharing process in virtual communities, the present study creatively introduces the knowledge fermenting theory used in the analysis. Six factors influencing sustainable information-sharing in virtual communities are first identified based on this theory, which include sharing bodies, interactive topics, communication mechanism, supporting technology, communication environment, and platform scale. The relations among these six factors are then analyzed using the Decision-Making and Trial Evaluation Laboratory (DEMATEL) method. The results indicate that the factor of sharing bodies has the strongest influence on other factors and the factor of interactive topics receives the most influences from the other factors. On this basis, the realization mechanism of sustainable information-sharing in virtual communities is elaborated from the following four aspects: the four stages of the information-sharing realization, the guide role of “strain,” the catalytic role of “enzyme,” and the effect of environment. The results indicate that sustainable information-sharing in virtual communities is a process of spiral evolution. Finally, recommendations are given to virtual community managers, users, and business firms.