Virtual communities and interorganizational networks are both overloaded concepts. Although it is assumed that they are related, there is some lack of clarity in their scientific and professional use. In this article, a contribution for the differentiation between the concepts of virtual knowledge community and interorganizational network is made, and we also shown how intertwined they are. Furthermore, we explain how communities can emerge from networks and discuss their main management issues. Finally, some definitions of related key terms are given.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Network of Organizations: Set of organizations that are jointly available to explore business opportunities through the launching of virtual organizations/enterprises.
Knowledge Community: A virtual community whose main aim is to share information and knowledge to achieve given collective and individual goals.
Virtual Organization: Temporary alliance of organizations/enterprises (legally) independents that share competencies or experiences and resources to better answer to some business opportunity, supported by technology.
Network Breeding Environment: Two or more independent organizations that, within a favorable context of trust, social relationships, and technological mediation, coordinate (in a more or less formal way) strategies and/or activities aiming at achieving individual and collective goals.
Collaborative Network: A set of independent organizations that interact using intensively collaborative processes (processes that aim at achieving collective results through the joint execution of tasks) supported by information technology (collaborative technologies).
Professional Community: Aggregation that provide environments for professionals to share their knowledge body, as cultures of similar work, problems perceptions, techniques of problem resolution, professional values, legal aspects, professional behavior, and so forth.
Virtual Community: An aggregation of individuals who interact around a shared interest, where the interaction is at least partially supported and/or mediated by technology and guided by some protocols and norms (Porter, 2004)