Business & Information Systems Engineering

Document Type

Research Paper


Firms host online communities for commercial purposes, for example in order to integrate customers into ideation for new product development. The success of these firm-hosted online communities depends entirely on the cooperation of a high number of customers that constantly produce valuable knowledge for firms. However, in practice, the majority of successfully implemented communities suffers from stagnation and even a decrease of member activities over time. Literature provides numerous guidelines on how to build and launch these online communities. While these models describe the initial steps of acquiring and activating a community base from scratch very well and explicitly, they neglect continuous member activation and acquistion after a successful launch. Against this background, the authors propose the Community Fostering Reference Model (CoFoRM), which represents a set of general procedures and instruments to continuously foster member activity. In this paper, the authors present the theory-driven design as well as the evaluation of the CoFoRM in a practical use setting. The evaluation results reveal that the CoFoRM represents a valuable instrument in the daily working routine of community managers, since it efficiently helps activating community members especially in the late phases of a community’s LifeCycle.