Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2423020
 


 



Sustaining the Flow of External Ideas: The Role of Dual Social Identity Across Communities and Organizations


Benedikt Langner


University of Oxford - Said Business School

Victor P. Seidel


Babson College; Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; University of Oxford

April 9, 2014

Journal of Product Innovation Management, 2014, Forthcoming

Abstract:     
Firm-hosted online communities are increasingly a part of innovation efforts which seek to provide a flow of external ideas into organizations. However, many online communities do not gain traction or die out over time. One possible but under-researched driver of sustained engagement by members of firm-hosted communities is a social identity that makes community members feel like they are part of the firm. We sought to empirically derive the organizational practices that support community members having a dual social identity with both communities and organizations. We completed extensive field work and over ninety interviews regarding two firms that had a history of sustained engagement by members of their communities: T-shirt firm Threadless and automotive firm Local Motors. We identified eight organizational practices that supported dual social identity. Four of these practices made members perceive a porous boundary between firm and community, including an ‘open house’ policy and hiring from the community. Another four practices made members feel supported in community efforts, including promoting community projects and having top management active in the community. We describe the practices in detail and the implications for firms using online communities as one component of their portfolio of innovation efforts.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 41

Keywords: Firm-hosted online communities, community engagement, social identity, innovation

JEL Classification: O32

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Date posted: April 11, 2014  

Suggested Citation

Langner, Benedikt and Seidel, Victor P., Sustaining the Flow of External Ideas: The Role of Dual Social Identity Across Communities and Organizations (April 9, 2014). Journal of Product Innovation Management, 2014, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2423020

Contact Information

Benedikt Langner
University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )
Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain
Victor P. Seidel (Contact Author)
Babson College ( email )
Wellesley, MA 02457-0310
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.babson.edu/academics/faculty/profiles/pages/seidel-victor.aspx
Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences ( email )
Cambridge, MA
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.seas.harvard.edu/directory/vseidel
University of Oxford ( email )
Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain
HOME PAGE: http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/community/people/victor-seidel
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