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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2013
Thesis number: 13149
Participation in professional communities: Exploring community orientations among highly-educated professionals
Author: Hänninen, Anna
Title: Participation in professional communities: Exploring community orientations among highly-educated professionals
Year: 2013  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Marketing
Index terms: markkinointi; marketing; yhteisöt; communities; viestintä; communication; kohderyhmät; target groups; asiantuntijat; specialists
Pages: 77
Key terms: participation in communities; professional communities; knowledge sharing; social exchange; social capital; factor analysis; cluster analysis
Objective of the study:

The aim of this study is to deepen the current understanding on participation in professional communities by unveiling the differences between individuals in their tendencies to share and collect information in such communities. This will be done by first approaching the topic of professional community participation from the perspective of knowledge sharing. Based on previous research and literature, factors influencing knowledge sharing in professional communities are then identified and presented. This is followed by a conceptual framework binding all the above-mentioned aspects together. In the empirical part of the study, underlying dimensions of professional communality are revealed. Finally, these dimensions are categorized in order to extract possible community orientations from the research data.

Research Method:

The data was collected by using an online questionnaire, which was addressed to highly educated professionals from various business areas. Two multivariate techniques were used to analyze the data. First, factor analysis was conducted in order to define the underlying dimensions of professional communality. Second, cluster analysis was conducted to categorize these dimensions and to decipher whether there is to be found different kinds of community orientations among highly-educated professionals.


The factor analysis revealed eleven factors that were identified as dimensions of professional communality. After identification of the different dimensions through the factor analysis, these standardized variables were subjected to K-means cluster analysis. According to the analysis, four different community orientations among highly-educated professionals were found. These participation profiles were named as follows: 1) Communal altruists, 2) Information brokers, 3) Strongly committed professionals, and 4) Social capital hoarders. By running cross-tabulations, the four community orientations were further interpreted and characterized. Based on the cross-tabulations, it was found that the extracted community orientations have different objectives for participating in communal gatherings. Differences in terms of what kinds of professional communities these participation types prefer and how they share knowledge in such communities were also identified.
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