Understanding knowledge sharing in an online community
: within the context of green clothing

  • Rebecca Beech

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The purpose of this thesis is to examine the participatory benefits that drive consumers’ knowledge sharing within a green clothing online community and to understand the interplay between consumers’ knowledge sharing and consumer empowerment. This research provides an exploration into the inter-relationship between consumers’ motivation to share knowledge, knowledge sharing and consumer empowerment. This thesis addresses research gaps in the fields of knowledge sharing and consumer empowerment within an online community. This research contributes to the paucity of literature that explores the phenomena from a consumer perspective.

    This study employed a qualitative research design, entailing focus groups followed by semi-structured interviews. The purpose of the focus groups was to provide a preliminary scoping to comprehend consumers’ drive to share knowledge and consumer empowerment on social media. The latter informed the subsequent semi-structured interviews. The semi-structured interviews delivered a further exploration into the participatory benefits that lead to consumers’ knowledge sharing, the interplay of knowledge sharing and consumer empowerment, and the inter-relationship between consumers’ drive to share knowledge, knowledge sharing and consumer empowerment within the #sustainablefashion online community.

    The findings of this research delivered an understanding into the three participatory benefits that lead to consumers’ knowledge sharing within a green clothing online community, which are social, psychological and functional. This research unveils that consumers indicate social bond experiential interactivity which entails users’ desire for camaraderie and to form relationships online, which results in reciprocity followed by knowledge sharing. The study’s findings evidence three aspects that lead to consumer empowerment, personal experiences, online tools and green concerns. The findings further reveal five factors that lead to a disempowered consumer, reference groups, personal experiences, scepticism, lack of confidence and profession. An empowered consumer emerges from the findings, users demonstrate that they are empowered by their ability to share their green concerns and the facilitation of online tools, which results in additional reciprocating behaviours and knowledge sharing. This study adds to previous studies understanding of an ecological citizen, who is empowered by their green concerns to champion and encourage pro-environmental behaviours amongst others.

    The study’s findings contribute to academic understanding and have implications for future research. This study proposes managerial implications for social media managers in industry and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in relation to how gatekeepers can harness an online community, and encourage knowledge sharing and empower consumers. Contributions for policy makers entail delivering insights into a past report that explored consumers’ green clothing terminology, and provides implications for a report that examines the antecedents to consumers’ pro-environmental behaviour.
    Date of AwardJan 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorAnvita Kumar (Supervisor), Carlos Ferreira (Supervisor) & Lyndon Simkin (Supervisor)


    • Knowledge Sharing
    • Online Communities
    • Consumer Empowerment
    • Disempowered Consumer
    • Green Clothing
    • Pro-Environmental Behaviour

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