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Abstract

Using Wittgenstein’s language-game paradigm, we analyze the discursive practices of three online discussion forums devoted to topics of professional management interest, and present the different language games enacted by their participants. We characterize the differences among the three forums as kiosk, club, and neighborhood: distinctive games that vary in their complexity in terms of linguistic style, roles, and interaction patterns. We also find family resemblances across the three language games, suggesting what the language game of online forums could be. Our exploratory study shows how organizing occurs through the enactment of a language game. It suggests how similarities and differences in discourse development can explain commonalities and variants in the structure and functioning of online forums. We suggest that they might imply different types of environments for knowledge-sharing.

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