Außenansicht der oberen Stockwerke der Executive Academy

Online Communities

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Online user communities are internet-based platforms for communication and exchange among individuals and/or organizations interested in a given product or technology.

They represent new forms of organizing for innovation. Research at the institute has been focusing on the overall organizational architecture of online communities compared to traditional forms of organizing, innovation processes in online communities, communities in multi-institutional development collaborations as well as how firms can leverage online communities for innovation. A recent project examines the introduction of symbolic awards on member behavior within online communities.


Berg-Jensen, Morten, Hienerth, Christoph, Lettl, Christopher. 2014. Forecasting the commercial attractiveness of user-generated designs using online data.An empirical study within the LEGO user community. Journal of Product Innovation Management (JPIM) 31, 75-93.

Hienerth, Christoph, Lettl, Christopher, Keinz, Peter. 2014. Synergies among producer firms, lead users, and user communities: The case of the LEGO producer-user ecosystem. Journal of Product Innovation Management 31 (4): 848-866

Fjelstad, Oystein, Snow, Charles, Miles, Raymond, Lettl, Christopher. 2012. The architecture of collaboration. Strategic Management Journal, 33:, 734-750.

Hienerth, Christoph, Lettl, Christopher. 2011. Exploring how peer communities enable lead user innovations to become the industry standard: Community pull effects. Journal of Product Innovation Management 28 S. 175-195.

Snow, C.; Fjeldstad, O.; Lettl, C.; Miles, R. 2010: Introduction to the Special Issue, in: Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 39 (2): 91-92.

Miles, R.; Snow, C.; Fjeldstad, O.; Miles, G.; Lettl, C. 2010: Designing Organizations to Meet 21st-Century Opportunities and Challenges. Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 39 (2): 93-103.

Kratzer, J., Gemuenden, H.G., Lettl, C 2008: Revealing dynamics and consequences of fit and misfit between formal and informal networks in multi-institutional product development collaborations. Research Policy, Vol. 37 (8): 1356-1370.

Ongoing projects

Symbolic Award Introduction and Online Community Member Behavior - A Natural Experiment (Alexander Staub, Christopher Lettl,  and Tom Grad (CBS))



Graphical Abstract
Symbolic Award Introduction and Online Community Member Behavior - A Natural Experiment

Online communities frequently suffer from the under-contribution of knowledge, in terms of both amount as well as quality. A common method to incentivize contribution behavior by members are symbolic awards, i.e. non-monetary forms of recognition. However, deep under-standing of how different forms of symbolic awards affect community members that differ in their motivations and natural propensity to contribute is currently lacking, especially with regard to specialization in specific knowledge domains.This research contributes to the the-ory of symbolic awards and knowledge creation, in addition to fostering scholarly discourse on new forms of organizing.