Communities and firms increasingly gather in collaborations in order to enhance value and produce innovation. It is in the interfaces between communities and firms that the potential for innovation lies. However, it is also in these interfaces that different rationales clash and conflicts arise. In order to improve connections and collaborations across interfaces, it is therefore necessary to improve our understanding of the community boundary construct. Existing studies of community boundaries within the user innovation literature predominantly describe boundaries as incentives for user participation without a clear distinction of what is part of the community and what is not. This gap is intensified by the emergence of virtual communities, where the notion of boundary is even more distorted. The paper suggests a new construct of virtual community boundaries that sets up the distinction between community and its environment differently from existing studies of virtual communities. Instead of taking its starting point in the users, the paper takes an organizational approach and focuses on the function of the community boundary construct. Hereby, the paper shows how community boundaries related to user attributes, identity and power produce specific managerial implications that firms must be reflexive about when inviting communities in.
Proceedings of the R&d Management Conference 2012, 2012
Community boundary; User-driven innovation; Systems theory