Creating Value in Online Communities: The Sociomaterial Configuring of Strategy, Platform, and Stakeholder Engagement

Barrett, Michael; Oborn, Eivor; Orlikowski, Wanda
December 2016
Information Systems Research;Dec2016, Vol. 27 Issue 4, p704
Academic Journal
How is value created in an online community (OC) over time? We explored this question through a longitudinal field study of an OC in the healthcare arena. We found that multiple kinds of value were produced and changed over time as different participants engaged with the OC and its evolving technology in various ways. To explain our findings, we theorize OC value as performed through the ongoing sociomaterial configuring of strategies, digital platforms, and stakeholder engagement. We develop a process perspective to explain these dynamics and identify multiple different kinds of value being created by an OC over time: financial, epistemic, ethical, service, reputational, and platform. Our research points to the importance of expanding the notion of OC users to encompass a broader understanding of stakeholders. It further suggests that creating OC value increasingly requires going beyond a dyadic relationship between the OC and the firm to encompassing a more complex relationship involving a wider ecosystem of stakeholders.


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