Revisiting the Virtual Community Business Model

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Jan Marco Leimeister, Information Systems Department, Hohenheim University and Helmut Krcmar, Chair for Information Systems, Technische Universit√§t M√ľnchen


In the mid 1990s, Virtual Communities (VCs) were described as a very promising internet-based business model. After the shake-out of the so-called New Economy only a few commercially-oriented Virtual Communities have survived. Many assertions and principles regarding important components and distinct strategies of Virtual Communities have not been empirically substantiated. This paper proposes a framework for analyzing the Virtual Community business model. The framework is applied to two successful cases that have been in existence for more than six years in the German speaking Internet using interviews, document analyses and participating observations for data collection. Differences and similarities between the cases are identified and analyzed in order to identify success factors. This research gains first empirically validated insights into the elements that are constitutive for the success of Virtual Communities. We conclude by discussing the findings for VCs in general and how to apply the framework to other domains.


Business Model, Virtual Community, Online Community, Business Sustainability, Success Factors



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