Sustainability, Vol. 11, Pages 4461: Understanding the Impact of Opinion Leaders` Characteristics on Online Group Knowledge-Sharing Engagement from In-Group and Out-Group Perspectives: Evidence from a Chinese Online Knowledge-Sharing Community (Sustainability)
Opinion leaders often play key roles in online knowledge-sharing communities, which has intrigued a lot of researchers and practitioners worldwide. However, it is not clear how various characteristics of opinion leaders may affect different online groups’ knowledge-sharing engagement. This paper aims to answer this question by building upon social capital theory to examine the differential influences of opinion leaders’ characteristics (interactivity, authority, and activity) on online groups. In-groups and out-groups were distinguished, and the study used the context of an investment-oriented online knowledge-sharing community. By leveraging a unique aggregated group-level secondhand dataset collected from Snowball.com, we conducted log-linear and Poisson regression models. The results revealed that the intensity of online group knowledge-sharing engagement was heavily contingent upon the types of characteristics of opinion leaders. We found that in-group knowledge-sharing engagement (generating new knowledge) was driven by an opinion leader’s interactivity and authority, whereas out-group knowledge-sharing engagement (developing new members) could not be facilitated by these types of characteristics. Instead, the opinion leader’s activity hindered out-group users from joining in-groups. The study also identified a “mutual promotion” issue, which was generated from the association between in-group and out-group knowledge-sharing engagement.