Sense of Virtual Community

Sense of Virtual Community

Hanna-Kaisa Ellonen (Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland), Miia Kosonen (Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland) and Kaisa Henttonen (Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-100-3.ch517
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Virtual communities have been an issue in academic research since the 1990s (c.f., Fernback & Thompson, 1995; Hagel & Armstrong, 1997; Preece, 2000; Rheingold, 2000). In the simplest terms, a virtual community could be defined as a group of people who communicate with each other via electronic media (Romm et al., 1997, p. 261). It was recognized early on that a virtual community may foster a “sense of belonging” (Figallo, 1998), “a social contract” (Sproull & Faraj, 1997) or “an internal set of social norms” (Burnett & Bonnici, 2003). It has also been suggested that these attributes would make such a community more powerful (Figallo, 1998) and successful (Wallace, 1999), representing the glue that keeps people together. According to a recent empirical study (Leimeister et al., 2004), members of virtual communities value these issues highly; for instance, establishing codes of behavior and building trust among members were evaluated among the most important success factors of virtual communities.

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