Toward a Conceptualization 
of Online Community Health 
David Wagner1, Alexander Richter2, Matthias Trier3, 
Heinz-Theo Wa...
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Toward a Conceptualization of Online Community Health

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This is a poster on online community health which I presented on December 16, 2014, at the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) in Auckland, New Zealand.

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Toward a Conceptualization of Online Community Health

  1. 1. Toward a Conceptualization of Online Community Health David Wagner1, Alexander Richter2, Matthias Trier3, Heinz-Theo Wagner1 1German Graduate School of Management and Law, 2University of Zurich, 3Copenhagen Business School Abstract In this paper, we work toward a construct conceptualization of online community health. Through a review of extant literature and dialogue with specialists in the field, we develop a multi-dimensional construct of on-line community health, consisting of seven elements. Motivation Organizations engage in a vari-ety of community settings that span departmental and organiza-tional boundaries, connecting di-verse stakeholders (Gulati et al. 2012; Jarvenpaa and Lang 2011; Nambisan and Baron 2010). As a result, new functions, such as dedicated community management teams, are being established (Kane et al. 2009; Parmentier and Gandia 2013). The basic objective of community management is to keep a commu-nity alive and thriving (Kraut and Resnick, 2011). The construct of online commu-nity health has been introduced to the academic literature (Wang and Lantzy 2011) and been adopted by numerous practitioners (Lithium 2012). However, the initial proposal from Wang and Lantzy (2011) lacks a sol-id grounding in the literature and has not been empirically tested. A more systematic, comprehensive concep-tualization thus seems warranted. Research Question How can the construct of online com-munity health be comprehensively conceptualized? Method The first part of the research project, presented in this paper, consists of a qualitative analysis of practition-er perceptions based on interviews (Kvale 2008). In the subsequent stage, a quantita-tive study is to be conducted with a longitudinal data set of an online community (Hogan 2008; Lazer et al. 2009). The focal community is Mo-tor- Talk, Europe’s biggest automo-tive community (http://www.motor-talk. de/). Motor-Talk hosts more than 600 brand and thematic fo-rums. Out of the 600 forums, we collected archival data for 4 forums (2 brand/2 thematic forums; 2 healthy/2 un-healthy forums), i.e., theoretical sampling to maximize differences in data (Urquhart and Vaast 2012). Dimensions Contributions The paper is designed to meet the du-al objectives of engaged scholarship (Van de Ven 2007). Theory: We follow the calls by fellow scholars to engage in theory devel-opment (Corley and Gioia 2011; Ma-jchrzak 2009; Urquhart and Vaast 2012) by laying the foundation for an emerging construct (MacKenzie et al. 2011), i.e., online community health (Wang and Lantzy 2011). In doing so, we attempt to derive a conceptual-ization that is beyond the reach of current performance variables used in organizational or information sys-tems contexts. Practice: The paper is targeted at a specific group of practitioners, i.e., social media and online communi-ty managers (Jaworski 2011; Kane et al. 2009; Parmentier and Gandia 2013). The construct of online com-munity health informs the evalua-tion of their communities and allows them to conduct regular health as-sessments that lead to actionable in-sights. Key References Kraut, R. E., and Resnick, P. 2011. Building Successful Online Communities: Evidence-Based Social Design, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. MacKenzie, S. B., Podsakoff, P. M., and Podsakoff, N. P. 2011. “Construct Measurement and Validation Procedures in MIS and Behavioral Research: Integrating New and Existing Techniques,” MIS Quarterly (35:2), pp. 293–334. Preece, J. 2001. “Sociability and Usability in Online Commu-nities: Determining and Measuring Success,” Behaviour & Information Technology (20:5), pp. 347–356.

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