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Virtual Communities

Edited by Jan Marco Leimeister & Balaji Rajagopalan

An “Advances in Management Information Systems” Volume
(Series Editor: Vladimir Zwass)


Virtual Communities (VCs) offer ubiquitous access to information and exchange possibilities for people in similar situations or with similar interests. VCs are groups of people who meet and interact with others, are connected by a specific interest, are brought together by means of a technical platform and who can establish social relationships or a sense of belonging to this group.

For more than 20 years the Internet has been the mainstream media for information exchange and social interaction. Millions of people have turned to it daily to conduct very diverse information seeking and communication activities. A great number of users are information consumers, but especially with the rise of web 2.0 applications many assumed an additional role and became information providers. They contribute content on a wide range of topics in blogs, wikis, podcasts and videos as well as they develop social relationships with people they never met in the physical world. Now users play games online with each other, chat and exchange information in chat rooms, discussion forums, and meeting rooms, visit social or professional networking sites, and visit dating and other social networking sites to meet people.

Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing technologies are enabling new forms of user interaction and extending the realm of classic internet applications as they provide new infrastructures for Virtual Communities. Location-based and context aware services, novel devices, user interfaces and ubiquitous connectivity allow new services for VCs or even enable new forms of VCs - Mobile Communities.

Written for both scholars and practitioners this book provides a collection of peer-reviewed research articels that provide an in-depth review of the state-of-the-art practices. It shows opportunities for research and practice in and around Virtual Communities. The book is organized into four sections, each investigating a distinct perspective of the subject.

Part I focuses on the fundamentals of Virtual Communities, ranging from structural elements such as sociability to aspects of user-generated content as well as issues related to theoretical foundations of online interactions.

Part II discusses the challenges and limitations of Virtual Communities in different areas of application, ranging from Healthcare to Tourism Communities to Virtual Communities for Idea Development in various domains.

Part III presents approaches to design for and discusses aspects of the development of Virtual Communities. Focusing on techniques to design and build optimal Virtual Communities for given needs and people it sheds light on methods, concepts and tools that work to make VCs sustainable.

Part IV extends internet- and PC-based Virtual Communities to the world of mobile and ubiquitous computing. Concepts of large community displays for public spaces to location based services, mobile devices and Mobile Communities this part sheds light into some of the fastest changing social and technological phenomena in the mobile and ubiquitous services world.

About the Editors

Prof. Dr. Jan Marco Leimeister ( is a full professor of Information Systems and holds the Chair for Information Systems at Kassel University. He is furthermore a research group manager at the Computer Science Department at Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Munich, Germany. He runs research groups on Virtual Communities, eHealth, Ubiquitous/Mobile Computing and manages several publicly funded research projects. Jan Marco’s research has been published in Journal of Management Information Systems (JMIS), IT and People (IT&P), Research and Development (R&D), Journal of Organizational Computing and Electronic Commerce (JoCeC), Wirtschaftsinformatik (WI), Journal of Computer-Mediated Communications (JCMC), and others. His teaching and research areas include Virtual Communities, IT Innovation Management, Service Science, Ubiquitous and Mobile Computing, Collaboration Engineering, eHealth, and IT Management.

Prof. Balaji Rajagopalan, PhD, ( is associate professor of management information systems at Oakland university. He also serves as the faculty director of graduate business programs in the School of Business Administration. His research interests include understanding the design, development and impact of virtual communities, diffusion of innovations in information technology, and open source software development. His research has been published in Information Systems Research (ISR), Decision Support Systems (DSS), IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, European Journal of Operational Research, Journal of Medical Systems, and International Journal of Business Information Systems. His publication on virtual communities in ISR (2007) received the best published paper. He was awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation grant in 2002.

Jan Marco Leimeister
Kassel University
Chair for Information Systems
Department of Business Management
Nora Platiel Str. 3
34127 Kassel, Germany

Balaji Rajagopalan

Oakland University
Associate Professor
Department of Decision and Information Sciences
School of Business Administration
Oakland University, Rochester, MI 48309, USA


If you are interested in contributing, please contact the editors at:

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