A fast-growing stream of literature has shown tremendous interests in the ‘wisdom of crowds’, embedded in various forms of Virtual Communities (VCs). However, it difficult to design an appropriate governance structure for VCs because: (1) it is not clear what governance exactly is in VCs; (2) our knowledge on how key governance mechanisms differ among various types of VCs is limited to date; (3) the variation patterns of governance mechanisms are far from fully explored to guide the design of governance in VCs. Therefore, this paper seeks to propose a working definition for governance in VCs, illustrate how governance mechanisms differ in various types of VCs, and explore testable variation patterns of governance mechanisms. We categorise various types of VCs, building on two unique dimensions: how and with whom VC participants exchange information. Several design principles are proposed to underpin the theoretical and practical implications of our research endeavour.
International Journal of Collaborative Enterprise, 2013, Vol 3, Issue 4, p. 225-251
Virtual communities; Governance; Relational transactions; User innovation