Do Online Communities Improve Job Performance in the Geographically Dispersed Organization?

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4 Scopus citations


The past decade has witnessed the explosive implementation of corporate social tools and technologies such as corporate internal online communities. However, there is little empirical evidence on whether and to what extent the implementation of an internal online community affects individual job performance in the geographically dispersed organization. In this study, we investigate this question with a quasi-natural experiment: A large manufacturer (i.e., the company) introduced an internal online community for its sales representatives across geographically dispersed subunits. The unique data set from the company's different departments enables us to observe detailed information about each representative's community usage, sales performance, and demographics. Our difference-in-differences design and instrumental-variable analysis jointly demonstrate a positive relationship between community usage and individual sales performance. In addition, we find that the online community has heterogeneous effects: It is significantly more beneficial for representatives with fewer offline opportunities to observe and learn from their colleagues' activities (i.e., representatives from subunits with fewer employees and lower average job performance). Finally, sales performance is more positively associated with reading posts from nonlocal subunits (vs. posts from the local subunit) and posts that summarize multiple selling events (vs. posts that describe a single selling event). Our study has implications for managers regarding the benefits of corporate online communities, especially for the geographically dispersed organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-421
Number of pages19
JournalProduction and Operations Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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