Design Principles for a Social Question and Answers Site: Enabling User-to-User Support in Organizations

  • Kevin Ortbach
  • Oliver Gaß
  • Sebastian Köffer
  • Silvia Schacht
  • Nicolai Walter
  • Alexander Maedche
  • Bjoern Niehaves
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8463)


The adoption of consumer technology in organizations, termed as IT consumerization, alters the IT infrastructure of many organizations. Letting employees decide which IT tools to use for their work increases the complexity of the organizational IT landscape and immediately raises the question how to provide adequate support given the multitude of technologies. Bring-Your-Own-Device advocates argue that employees can provide IT support on their own. An established concept to provide user-to-user support are social questions & answers sites (SQA). While such community sites are perfectly suited for exploratory problem solving, they lack however suitability to help solving specific problems subject to a specific organization. Moreover, receiving fast ad-hoc help in SQA is rather unlikely, as communication is always indirect and experts to solve the problem are unknown beforehand. The work presented in this paper explores key design characteristics of SQA sites in organizations that overcome the shortcoming of public SQA sites. Based on existing IS literature, we identify four kernel theories that are relevant for SQA sites in organizations and derive meta-requirements from them. In a next step, we analyze five public SQA sites to identify common design principles of SQA sites that are already applied. The main part of our analysis matches the identified design principles with the formulated meta-requirements to address potential gaps with respect to an enterprise environment. We conclude our research with the suggestion of additional design principles for SQA sites that account for their application in an organizational context.


IT consumerization BYOD user-to-user support social questions and answer sites 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin Ortbach
    • 1
  • Oliver Gaß
    • 2
  • Sebastian Köffer
    • 1
  • Silvia Schacht
    • 2
  • Nicolai Walter
    • 1
  • Alexander Maedche
    • 2
    • 3
  • Bjoern Niehaves
    • 4
  1. 1.European Research Center for Information SystemsUniversity of MünsterGermany
  2. 2.Information Systems IVUniversity of MannheimMannheimGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Enterprise SystemsUniversity of MannheimMannheimGermany
  4. 4.Hertie School of GovernanceBerlinGermany

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