Tension resolution and sustaining knowledge flows in online communities

Tanner Skousen, Hani Safadi, Elena Karahanna, Fouad Chebib, Colleen Young

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Online communities bring together members of common interest and are recognized as generators of significant knowledge. In healthcare, online communities are a medium for patients to share their stories, gain peer support, and learn more about medical conditions. To succeed, these communities need to sustain their knowledge flows and resolve arising tensions. The current literature suggests that participation dynamics and emergent organizational structure are sufficient to resolve tensions in online communities. Based on increased evidence of the need of formal management to sustain online communities, we propose that emergent structure and roles may not always be sufficient when tensions are prevalent and stakes are high such as in online patient communities. We conduct an inductive field study of Mayo Clinic Connect, a leading online patient community. The findings suggest that formal management and emergent leadership play a complementary role to resolve tensions and sustain knowledge flows. We theorize a virtuous cycle of moderation and socialization that effectively integrates the effort of the community formal management and emergent leaders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication40th International Conference on Information Systems, ICIS 2019
PublisherAssociation for Information Systems
ISBN (Electronic)9780996683197
StatePublished - 2019
Event40th International Conference on Information Systems, ICIS 2019 - Munich, Germany
Duration: Dec 15 2019Dec 18 2019

Publication series

Name40th International Conference on Information Systems, ICIS 2019


Conference40th International Conference on Information Systems, ICIS 2019


  • Healthcare
  • Knowledge flows
  • Moderation
  • Online communities
  • Socialization
  • Tensions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems

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