In this study, we draw on social capital theory to address the challenge of open innovation (OI) platforms to establish sustained knowledge exchange between platform participants by overcoming the fear of being exploited and the inherent lack of trust in a rather anonymous setting. Social capital theory provides a comprehensive framework for examining the nature of social connections through its focus on both structural networks and interpersonal relationships. Prior research has recognized that social capital is an essential stock variable to activate and maintain knowledge exchange between participants of a network – however, this construct is not yet established in the context of OI platforms. Results of an empirical study of 61 OI platforms show that a high level of decentralized control among seekers, solvers and the intermediary is positively related to social capital and that this effect is mediated by securing value capture for the crowd. The results suggest that it is crucial to (re-)design OI platforms in terms of decentralizing control during joint value creation, i.e. sharing power among stakeholder groups, while securing value capture in order to build social capital in a digital collaboration context.
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