Grasping the Business Value of Online Communities

Zilia Iskoujina, Malgorzata Ciesielska, Joanne Roberts, Feng Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
69 Downloads (Pure)


Online communities are communication networks between individuals and/or businesses that identify themselves with a community formed around a common interest and interact to exchange information or knowledge through a range of the Internet-based technologies. They can create a valuable business resource and at the same time they can be successful businesses in their own right. Although, some of the commercial and marketing opportunities of online communities have already been studied – like those of brand or consumption communities – online communities can offer many more opportunities to business, including tangible revenues and intangible benefits such as improved image or the co-creation of new products. Despite the continuous rapid development of online communities and the fact that communication networks have become a permanent element of everyday life for individuals and businesses alike, no comprehensive framework exists to analyse the commercial benefits of online communities. Therefore this paper considers the opportunities that online communities offer to themselves as well as to other businesses with the purpose of identifying innovative business models. The paper investigates the definitions, dimensions and classifications of online communities together with their potential to produce value for businesses. Those value options are then discussed in the context of empirical vignettes showing examples of business models focused on one of two potential benefits coming from online communities – clear financial gains and intangible long-run returns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-416
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2017


  • online communities
  • virtual communities
  • business models
  • business value


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