Exploring Appropriation of Enterprise Wikis:

A Multiple-Case Study
  • Alexander StockerEmail author
  • Alexander Richter
  • Patrick Hoefler
  • Klaus Tochtermann


The purpose of this paper is to provide both application-oriented researchers and practitioners with detailed insights into conception, implementation, and utilization of intra-organizational wikis to support knowledge management and group work. Firstly, we report on three case studies and describe how wikis have been appropriated in the context of a concrete practice. Our study reveals that the wikis have been used as Knowledge Base, Encyclopedia and Support Base, respectively. We present the identified practices as a result of the wiki appropriation process and argue that due to their open and flexible nature these wikis have been appropriated according to the users’ needs. Our contribution helps to understand how platforms support working practices that have not been supported by groupware before, or at least not in the same way. Secondly, three detailed implementation reports uncover many aspects of wiki projects, e.g., different viewpoints of managers and users, an investigation of other sources containing business-relevant information, and perceived obstacles to wiki projects. In this context, our study generates a series of lessons learned for people who intend to implement wikis in their own organizations, including the awareness of usage potential, the need for additional managerial support, and clear communication strategies to promote wiki usage.

Key words

knowledge management knowledge sharing social software wiki enterprise wiki web 2.0 



We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers, the companies who were part of our study and the colleagues who contributed to our study. Especially, we want to thank the editors of this special issue, Carla Simone, Volker Wulf and Mark Ackerman for their valuable feedback and their willingness to help us to improve our paper. Alexander Richter wants to thank Michael Koch and Kai Riemer for being great mentors.


  1. Ackerman, M. S. and Halverson, C. (1998). Considering an organization’s memory. Proceedings of ACM 1998 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Seattle WA: ACM Press, pp.39–48.Google Scholar
  2. Ackerman, M. S., & Halverson, C. (2000). Re-examining organizational memory. Communications of the ACM, 43(1), 58–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alavi, M., & Leidner, D. (2001). Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management Systems: Conceptual Foundations and Research Issues. MIS Quarterly, 24(1), 107–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arazy, O., Gellatly, I., Soobaek, J., & Patterson, R. (2009). Wiki deployment in corporate settings. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, 28(2), 57–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ardichvili, A., Vaughn, P., & Wentling, T. (2003). Motivation and barriers to participation in virtual knowledge-sharing communities of practice. Journal of Knowledge Management, 7(1), 64–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barley, S., & Kunda, G. (2001). Bringing work back in. Organization Science, 12(1), 76–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barnes, S., Boehringer, M., Kurze, C. and Stietzel, J. (2010). Towards an understanding of social software: the case of Arinia. Proceedings of 43 rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Koloa, Kaunai, Hawai.Google Scholar
  8. Blaschke, S. and Stein, K. (2008). Methods and measures for the analysis of corporate wikis. Proceedings of the 58th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA), Montreal, Canada.Google Scholar
  9. Brynjolfsson, E., & Hitt, L. M. (1998). Beyond the productivity paradox. Communications of the ACM, 41(8), 49–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Buffa, M. (2006). Intranet Wikis. Proceedings of the Intraweb Workshop, World Wide Web Conference (WWW 2006), Edinburgh, Scotland.Google Scholar
  11. Bughin, J. and Manyika, J. (2007). How businesses are using Web 2.0: A McKinsey Global Survey. McKinsey Research.Google Scholar
  12. Cabrera, A., & Cabrera, E. (2002). Knowledge sharing dilemmas. Organization Studies, 23(5), 687–710.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cabrera, A., Collins, W., & Salgado, J. (2006). Determinants of individual engagement in knowledge sharing. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 17(2), 245–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chau, T. and Maurer, F. (2005). A case study of wiki-based experience repository at a medium-sized software company. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Knowledge Capture (K-CAP '05). New York: ACM Press, pp. 185–186.Google Scholar
  15. Danis, C. and Singer, D. (2008). A Wiki instance in the enterprise: Opportunities, concerns and reality. Proceedings of the ACM 2008 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, San Diego, USA.Google Scholar
  16. Davenport, T., & Prusak, L. (1998). Working knowledge: How organizations manage what they know. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  17. Davis, F. D. (1989). Perceived usefulness perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS Quarterly, 13, 319–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. DeLone, W., & McLean, E. (1992). Information systems success: The quest for the dependent variable. Information Systems Research, 3(1), 60–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. DeLone, W., & McLean, E. (2003). The DeLone and McLean model of information systems success: A ten-year update. Journal of Management Information Systems, 19(4), 9–30.Google Scholar
  20. DiMicco, J.M.; Millen, D.R.; Geyer, W.; Dugan, C.; Brownholtz, B.; Muller, M. (2008). Motivations for Social Networking at Work. Proceedings of the 12th Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work. ACM Press, New York.Google Scholar
  21. Dourish, P. (2003). The appropriation of interactive technologies: Some lessons from placeless documents. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) - The Journal of Collaborative Computing, 12(4), 465–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Drucker, P. F. (1992). Managing for the future. New York: Truman Talley Books/Dutton.Google Scholar
  23. Efimova, L. and Grudin, J. (2007). Crossing boundaries: A case study of employee blogging. Proceedings of the Fortieth Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-40), Los Alamitos: IEEE Press.Google Scholar
  24. Eisenhardt, K. (1989). Building theories from case study research. Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 532–550.Google Scholar
  25. Farrell, R., Kellogg, W. and Thomas, J. (2008). The participatory web and the socially resilient enterprise. IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Proceedings of the 12th Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, ACM Press, New York.Google Scholar
  26. Giddens, A. (1979). Central problems in Social Theory: Action, Structure and Contradiction in Social Analysis. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  27. Giddens, A. (1984). The Constitution of society: Outline of the theory of structuration. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  28. Grace, T. (2009). Wikis as a knowledge management tool. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(4), 64–74.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Greif, I. (1998). Everyone is talking about knowledge management. Proceedings of ACM 1998 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Seattle, WA: ACM Press, pp. 405-406.Google Scholar
  30. Grudin, J. (1988). Why CSCW applications fail: Problems in the design and evaluation of organizational interfaces. Proceedings of ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work. New York: ACM, pp. 65-84.Google Scholar
  31. Grudin, J. and Palen, L. (1995). Why groupware succeeds: Discretion or mandate. Proceedings of European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  32. Hanseth, O. and Lytinnen, K. (2004). Theorizing about the design of information infrastructures: Design kernel theories and principles, sprouts. Working Papers on Information Systems, vol. 4, no. 12.Google Scholar
  33. Happel, H. and Treitz, M. (2008). Proliferation in enterprise wikis. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on the Design of Cooperative Systems, Carry-le-Rouet. Google Scholar
  34. Hasan, F. and Pfaff, C. (2006). The Wiki: an environment to revolutionise employees’ interaction with corporate knowledge. Proceedings of the 18th Australia Conference on Computer-Human Interaction: Design: Activities, Artefacts and Environments, Sydney, Australia.Google Scholar
  35. Hlupic, V., Pouloudi, A., & Rzevski, G. (2002). Towards an integrated approach to knowledge management: ‘Hard’, ‘soft’ and ‘abstract’ issues. Knowledge and Process Management, 9(2), 90–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Holtzblatt, L., Damianos, L. and Weiss, D. (2010). Factors impeding wiki use in the enterprise: A case study. Proceedings of CHI 2010, ACM Press.Google Scholar
  37. Huysman, M., & Wulf, V. (2006). IT to support knowledge sharing in communities: Towards a social capital analysis. Journal on Information Technology (JIT), 21(1), 40–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jahnke, I. (2009). Socio-technical communities: From informal to formal. In B. Whitworth (ed): Handbook of research on socio-technical design and social networking systems. IGI Global Publisher, pp. 763–778.Google Scholar
  39. Koch, M. (2008). CSCW and Enterprise 2.0: Towards an integrative perspective. Proceedings of the 21st Bled Conference eCollaboration: Overcoming Boundaries through Multi-Channel Interaction, Bled, Slovenia.Google Scholar
  40. Kosonen, M., Henttonen, K., & Ellonen, H.-K. (2007). Weblogs and internal communication in a corporate environment: a case from the ICT industry. International Journal of Knowledge and Learning, 3(4–5), 437–449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kuutti, K. (1996). Activity Theory as a potential framework for human-computer interaction research. In B. Nardi (Ed.), Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human Computer Interaction (pp. 17–44). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  42. Levy, M. (2009). Web 2.0 implications on knowledge management. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(1), 120–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Licklider, J. C. R., & Taylor, R. (1968). The computer as a communication device. Science and Technology, 76, 21–31.Google Scholar
  44. Majchrzak, A., Wagner, C. and Yates, D. (2006). Corporate wiki users: Results of a survey. Proceedings of the 2006 International Symposium on Wikis, ACM Press, New York,Google Scholar
  45. Mayer, R. (2004). Knowledge management systems: Information and Communication Technologies for Knowledge Management. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  46. McAfee, A. (2006). Enterprise 2.0. The dawn of emergent collaboration. MIT Sloan Management Review, 47(3), 21–28.Google Scholar
  47. McAfee, A and Sjoman, A. (2006). Wikis at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein. (Case No. 606074). Boston, Harvard Business School Case Studies.Google Scholar
  48. Meyer, B., & Sugiyama, K. (2007). The concept of knowledge in KM: a dimensional model. Journal of Knowledge Management, 11(1), 17–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1984). Qualitative data analysis: A sourcebook of new methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  50. Mueller, J., & Stocker, A. (2011). Enterprise microblogging for advanced knowledge sharing. The References@BT Case Study. Journal of Universal Computer Science, 17(4), 532–547.Google Scholar
  51. Nonnecke, B. and Preece, J. (2001). Why lurkers lurk. Proceedings of American Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS 2001), Boston.Google Scholar
  52. O’Reilly, T. (2005). What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software, O’Reilly Media.Google Scholar
  53. Orlikowski, W. J. (1992). The duality of technology: Rethinking the concept of technology in organizations. Organization Science - Focused Issue: Management of Technology, 3, 398–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Orlikowski, W. J. (1995). Evolving with notes: Organizational change around groupware technology. Working Paper 186, Center for Coordination Science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  55. Orlikowski, W. J. (2000). Using technology and constituting structure: A practise lens for studying technology in organizations. Organization Science, 11(4), 404–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Orlikowski, W. J., & Iacono, S. (2000). The truth is not out there: An enacted view of the digital economy. In E. Brynjolfsson & B. Kahin (Eds.), Understanding the digital economy: Data, tools, and research. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  57. Paroutis, S., & Saleh, A. (2009). Determinants of knowledge sharing using Web 2.0 technologies. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(4), 52–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pasmore, W., Francis, C., Haldeman, J., & Shani, A. (1982). Sociotechnical systems: A North American reflection on empirical studies in the seventies. Human Relations, 35, 1179–1204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Pipek, V. (2005). From tailoring to appropriation support: Negotiating groupware usage. Ph.D. thesis. Faculty of Science, Department of Information Processing Science (ACTA UNIVERSITATIS OULUENSIS A 430), University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland, 246 p.Google Scholar
  60. Pipek, V. and Wulf, V. (2009). Infrastructuring: Towards an integrated perspective on the design and use of information technology. Journal of the Association of Information Systems (JAIS), vol. 10, no. 5, Article 1.Google Scholar
  61. Poole, M. S., & De Sanctis, G. (1989). Use of group decision support systems as an appropriation process. Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Annual Hawaii International Conference, 4, 149–157.Google Scholar
  62. Poole, M. S., & De Sanctis, G. (1992). Microlevel structuration in computer-supported group decision making. Human Communications Research, 19, 5–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Probst, G., Raub, S., & Romhardt, K. (2000). Managing knowledge –building blocks for success. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  64. Raeth, P., Smolnik, S., Urbach, N. and Zimmer, C. (2009). Towards assessing the success of social software in corporate environments. Proceedings of 15th American Conference on Information Systems, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  65. Razmerita, L., Kirchner, K., & Sudzina, F. (2008). Personal knowledge management. The role of Web 2.0 tools for managing knowledge at individual and organizational levels. Online Information Review, 33(6), 1021–1039.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Richter, A. and Koch, M. (2008). Functions of social networking services. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on the Design of Cooperative Systems, Carry-le-Rouet. Google Scholar
  67. Richter, A. and Riemer, K. (2009). Corporate social networking sites – modes of use and appropriation through co-evolution. Proceedings of the 20th Australasian Conference on Information Systems, Melbourne.Google Scholar
  68. Richter, A. and Stocker, A. (2011). Exploration & promotion: Einführungsstrategien von Corporate Social Software. Proceedings of 10th International Conference Wirtschaftsinformatik (WI 2011), Zürich.Google Scholar
  69. Riemer, K. and Richter, A. (2010). Tweet inside: Microblogging in a corporate context. Proceedings of the 23rd Bled eConference 2010 – “eTrust: Implications for the Individual, Enterprises and Society”, Bled, Slovenia.Google Scholar
  70. Riemer, K., Froessler, F. and Klein, S. (2007). Real time communication – modes of use in distributed teams. Proceedings of 15th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), St. Gallen, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  71. Riemer, K., Steinfield, C., & Vogel, D. (2009). eCollaboration: On the nature and emergence of communication and collaboration technologies. Electronic Markets, 19(1), 181–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Savage, C. M. (1996). Fifth generation management: Co-creating through virtual enterprising, dynamic teaming, and knowledge networking. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.Google Scholar
  73. Schneckenberg, D. (2009). Web 2.0 and the empowerment of the knowledge worker. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(6), 509–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Star, S. L., & Griesemer, J. R. (1989). Institutional ecology, ‘translations’ and boundary objects: Amateurs and professionals in Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907–39. Social Studies of Science, 19(3), 387–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Stevens, G. (2009). Understanding and designing appropriation infrastructures: Artifacts as boundary objects in the continuous software development. Ph.D. thesis, University of Siegen.Google Scholar
  76. Stocker, A., Strohmaier, M., & Tochtermann, K. (2008). Studying knowledge transfer with weblogs in small and medium enterprises: An exploratory case study. Journal of Scalable Computing: Practice and Experience, 9(4), 243–258.Google Scholar
  77. Strohmaier, M., Yu, E., Horkoff, J., Aranda, J. and Easterbrook, S. (2007). Analyzing knowledge transfer effectiveness – An agent-oriented approach. Proceedings of the 40th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-40 2007), January 3-9, IEEE Computer Society, Hawaii, USA.Google Scholar
  78. Suchman, L. (1987). Plans and situated actions: The problem of human-machine communication. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  79. Trkman, M., & Trkman, P. (2009). A Wiki as intranet: a critical analysis using the Delone and McLean model. Online Information Review, 33(6), 1087–1102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Wagner, C. (2006). Breaking the knowledge acquisition bottleneck through conversational knowledge management. Information Resources Management Journal, 19(1), 70–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Wagner, C., & Majchrzak, A. (2007). Enabling customer-centricity using wikis and the wiki way. Journal of Management Information Systems, 23(3), 17–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Wasko, M., & Faraj, S. (2005). Why should I share? Examining social capital and knowledge contribution in electronic networks of practice. MIS Quarterly, 29(1), 35–57.Google Scholar
  83. Watson, K. and Harper, C. (2008). Supporting knowledge creation – using wikis for group collaboration. Research Bulletin, Issue 3, Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research.Google Scholar
  84. White, K. and Lutters, W. (2007). Midweight collaborative remembering: wikis in the workplace. Proceedings of the 2007 Symposium on Computer Human Interaction for the Management of Information Technology, ACM, New York.Google Scholar
  85. Wulf, V., & Jarke, M. (2004). The economics of end user development. Communications of the ACM (CACM), 47(9), 41–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Yin, R. (2003). Case study research: design and methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  87. Zhang, J., Qu, Y., Cody, J. and Wu, Y. (2010). A case study of micro-blogging in the enterprise: Use, value, and related issues. Proceedings of CHI 2010. ACM Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Stocker
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alexander Richter
    • 2
  • Patrick Hoefler
    • 3
  • Klaus Tochtermann
    • 4
  1. 1.DIGITAL - Institute for Information and Communication TechnologiesJOANNEUM RESEARCHGrazAustria
  2. 2.Bundeswehr UniversityNeubibergGermany
  3. 3.Know-CenterGrazAustria
  4. 4.German National Library of Economics (ZBW) – Leibniz Information Centre for EconomicsKielGermany

Personalised recommendations