Wikis have been found to be an easy-to-use, low-cost, and Internet-based technology useful in creating and mobilizing knowledge. Wikis hosted within firms (corporate wikis) have become a popular way for employees to share information and collaborate.
Preliminary research suggested that as few as 6% of wiki consumers contributed to the development of wiki pages. Conventional approaches argued that employees judged the costs of participating in wikis (e.g., authoring or changing material, reading messages, following an argument, and posting responses) to exceed the benefits of participating in wikis (e.g., recognition, reputation etc.)—thus many people “lurked” but did not post. Considering that people contemplated perceived benefits with costs of participating in wikis, research emphasized the cognitive aspects of decision-making.
The emotional aspects of wiki participation in firms have received little research attention. Yet, research in other fields such as law, economics, and health showed that emotions played a critical role in human decision making, where feelings were shown to outweigh contemplated costs and benefits. For example, Kiviniemi, Voss-Humke, and Siefert (2007) found that positive feelings about exercise resulted in more physical activity whereas positive feelings about food resulted in unhealthy food choices. For Wikipedia, a public wiki, studies suggested that emotion might be an important motivator in participation.
The purpose of this research was to study the role of emotion in corporate wiki participation. Since the area of research is new, the contextual details of wikis in an organizational setting made it difficult for a researcher to separate the context from the main effects. A grounded theory approach was needed. Under grounded theory, one starts with the data and builds arguments or theories from the “ground up.”
This study used a grounded theory methodology to reveal data through interviews, employee journals, observations, wiki statistics, and other documentation. Data were analyzed on a continuum using grounded theory coding to identify codes, categories, concepts, and properties and to recognize relationships among concepts. An exploration of emotion in an organizational context resulted in theories that provided an important beginning to understanding wiki experiences and improving wiki outcomes.