chapter  8
20 Pages

Entrepreneurial Members in Online Innovation Communities: Blessing or Curse?

ByJAN BIERWALD, CORNELIUS HERSTATT

In this paper we develop initial inductive research propositions regarding the behavior of entrepreneurial members in online innovation communities (OIC). In these communities, up to thousands of volunteers collaboratively develop an innovative product. Based on a netnography analysis of 7,362 mails, we follow a micro-level-approach concentrating on individual behavior and conduct a content and co-citation analysis of community members. By explicitly distinguishing entrepreneurial from private community members, we are able to investigate differences in their contribution focus, degree of specialization and collaboration level. Entrepreneurs tend to contribute more to innovative, disruptive topics and show a lower degree of specialization compared to private members. Nevertheless, entrepreneurial members need intensive care by management as they tend to form separated cliques with their peers and thus limit collaboration within the community. Finally, we discuss implications for both research and management.