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Title: A framework for developing and deploying business-to-business virtual communities
Author: Tickle, Matthew
ISNI:       0000 0004 2737 1266
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2011
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The last decade has seen a growing interest in virtual communities (VCs) as a way of transferring and generating knowledge within organisations (Michaelides et al., 2010). The MySpace phenomenon and the increased use of VCs by large international organisations such as IBM and Procter and Gamble (P&G) confirms the importance of VCs in today's society and the global economy. The holistic approach of using modern Internet tools and technologies with social networks presents both opportunities and challenges in the modern era (Tickle et al., 2007). A VC can be defined as a community of people with a common interest but not necessarily a common geographic location (Sands, 2003). In their most basic form, VCs are websites that allow their users to interact with each other using tools such as discussion forums, 'Blog Spaces', real-time chat and trading areas. VCs allow companies to build stronger, more cost-effective connections between themselves, their partners and their customers (Roberts, 2006). If planned and executed correctly, VCs can benefit businesses by improving resource allocation, customer service and revenues, as well as lowering operating costs. Furthermore, VCs can act as bridges between companies and their customers by fostering product awareness, providing forums for questions and concerns and serving as conduits for feedback to improve future company products. It is therefore imperative that companies embrace business-to-business (B2B) VCs in order for them to remain competitive. Despite the benefits there are numerous challenges that stand to impede the success of each VC; the landscape is littered with VC projects that have failed to meet their expectations due to poor decision making at the development and subsequent deployment stages (Roberts, 2006). This research uses four qualitative case studies to create a holistic Framework with the aim of aiding practitioners wishing to develop and deploy their own B2B VCs. The Framework highlights the various decisions that must be made during the lifecycle of a VC before emphasising each decision's respective consequences. Contrary to common belief, this research has found that the technological aspect of a VC's development and deployment is not the most important factor - it is, in fact, the establishment of a community culture that dictates the success of a B2B VC.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available