Social networking in an academic conference context: insights from a case study

Meira Levy*, Irit Hadar, Dov Te'eni, Naomi Unkelos-Shpigel, Sofia Sherman, Nassi Harel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to propose a conference-based online social network (OSN) for academics’ knowledge sharing and collaboration around and beyond a conference, while exploring the entanglement of the social and technical aspects of the system. Design/methodology/approach – Following an exploratory study, an OSN prototype was developed and implemented in ECIS 2014. The usage of the OSN platform was monitored and in-depth interviews were conducted with seven of its active users. Findings – Academic researchers have positive attitudes toward using conference-based OSN. However, there is a gap between academics’ perceptions and their actual behavior. Several barriers for engagement were identified, leading to technical and social recommendations, including the following needs: integrating the OSN platform with other conference information systems; addressing privacy concerns; allowing on-going collaboration; increasing OSN vitality; using the wisdom of the crowd; and promotion and its timing. Research limitations/implications – The case study highlighted existing benefits, and identified potential future benefits from implementing a conference-based OSN. Future research is required to generalize the findings and evaluate the proposed strategies for enhancing user engagement. Practical implications – This study revealed the set of considerations that should be taken upon launching a new academic OSN, which are beyond the technical issues per se. Social implications – The paper presents the expected benefits from, and existing barriers to using a conference-based OSN, and suggests recommendations for encouraging academics to engage in such OSN, in order to enhance long-term social interactions, knowledge sharing and collaboration among conference participants. Originality/value – This is a first study to examine a conference-based OSN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-68
Number of pages18
JournalInformation Technology and People
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 Mar 2016


  • Collaboration
  • Communities of practice
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Social networking (e.g. Facebook, second life)
  • Web 2.0


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