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Discussion Papers
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research

The Perks of Being Unknown: Implied Costs of Knowledge Seeking on Organizational Platforms

Mickeler, Maren; Khashabi, Pooyan; Kleine, Marco; Kretschmer, Tobias (2022). The Perks of Being Unknown: Implied Costs of Knowledge Seeking on Organizational Platforms, Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition Research Paper No. 19-17.

Organizational platforms enable the efficient exchange of resources like knowledge or help among organizational members. Yet, employee engagement frequently remains low. Focusing on knowledge seekers, we argue that seeking behavior is influenced by implied (a) social-psychological costs, and (b) economic considerations, and posit that both costs are sensitive to revealing the seekers’ identity. In two experiments, we test our conjectures and find that both types of implied costs affect seeking behavior: if an individual’s identity becomes known, knowledge seeking on the platform decreases. If seeking comes with additional economic consequences, seeking behavior declines even further. We also find that females seek more in response to anonymity than males. These results highlight the role of user anonymity on platform engagement in organizational contexts.

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