Online community life cycle

This week I presented our netnographic research on community lifecycle at a MeMo project meeting at the Federal Minsitry of Economics and Technology (BMWi).

The netnographic research I presented is based on the five stages of community development model by Wenger, McDermott and Synder  (2002), which we used as an underlying research model in the research project “Mediencommuniyt 2.0” (2009-2011) to identify the major phases of an online community development.

The presentation is based on the reasearch paper: “The stages of online community development” (published in German).

The presentation can be viewed below.

In the paper we reconstruct the five stages of community development, which are defined in the model by Wenger, McDermott and Synder (2002) as potential, coalescing, maturing, stewardship and transformation. Each stage of community development is oscillates between two opposing tendencies that a community must address before moving on. Thus communities experienced different challenges or tensions along the way of their development. The five stages and their developmental tensions are

  1. Potential: Discover/Imagine: Communities evolve organically toward their potential but at the same time they have to imagine and plan their development.
  2. Coalescing: Incubate/Deliver Value: Communities have to support member relationships incubate but at the same time they provide value to members.
  3. Maturing: Focus/Expand: Communities develop intimacy and  sense of identity but at the same time they have to let in new members an ideas to grow.
  4. Stewardship: Ownership/Openness: Communities have to balance their sense of ownership with redefining community boundaries to foster vitality.
  5. Transformation: Let Go/Let Live: Communities struggle with both letting go and finding ways to live on while undergoing transformation in the final stage.

What I found interesting in our research was that we could easily spot the stages and their developmental tendencies as described by Wenger, McDermott and Synder  (2002) in the lifecycle of Mediencommunity. We could identify much agreement with the theoretical model based on on mix of data from observations, interviews, surveys, logfile analysis and other methods we combined in the netnographic paradigm.

To me personally it would be very interesting to find out if there are any other similiar, documented studies out there that are based on the 5-stage-model of community development by Wenger, McDermott and Synder (2002)? If you are aware of any, please let me know!

*Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. M. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

4 thoughts on “Online community life cycle

  1. Pingback: Online community life cycle | Shifting Minds & Communities |
  2. Pingback: Online community life cycle « juandon. Innovación y conocimiento
  3. Pingback: Online community life cycle | Dropout in elearning courses |

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