Communities of Customers and the Organization: New Service Relations on Web 2.0 Platforms

23 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2015

See all articles by Heidemarie Hanekop

Heidemarie Hanekop

Soziologisches Forschungsinstitut Göttingen (SOFI)

Date Written: July 29, 2015


Web 2.0 technologies give customers ever more opportunities to participate in the creation of services. Because the web makes it possible for a very large number of customers to interact and cooperate globally, it has provided the impetus for a new type of service whereby customers work for other customers. Where community-based production meets the working customer, a shift occurs in the relations between organizations and customers in the service sector. Not only are customers carrying out the majority of the work that once had been the domain of professional staff, they also become relevant as a collective actor. The emergence of community-based service production built around commercial products and services leads to two new types of actors: the website provider as organizer of the service and the community of customers as core producers of consulting services for other customers. The relationship between the website operator and the community is characterized by mutual dependency. The success of community-building depends on the promise that customers are free to make any contribution they wish and can read the unmanipulated contributions of other customers. Yet with such a platform, a new actor comes on the stage for helping customers consult other customers: the community as a collective of customers. For companies running community-based service platforms, they indeed perform a balancing act between economic goals and successful community-building. The tension in these two roles and their interaction is quite characteristic of services.

Suggested Citation

Hanekop, Heidemarie, Communities of Customers and the Organization: New Service Relations on Web 2.0 Platforms (July 29, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Heidemarie Hanekop (Contact Author)

Soziologisches Forschungsinstitut Göttingen (SOFI) ( email )

Friedlaender Weg 31
Goettingen, DE 37085


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