There is a continued interest amongst information system scholars on online communities (OCs). Current accounts, however, often neglect the complex relations and tensions that exist within and between community participants. This is in particular, where these online communities emerge from and around the adoption of large commercial systems, the tensions between these communities and the vendors of the technologies. This existing ‘community’ perspective envisions OCs as idealised microcosm of society. In this paper, we criticise this view by drawing attention to the co-existence of conflicts of interests and collaborations within communities. This brings into light the ‘commodity’ view of the OCs. In order to do this, we conduct a case study of an online enterprise resource planning (ERP) community, where user organisations voluntarily come together and exchange knowledge. We identify the types of knowledge exchanges, the practices involved in the exchange process, the resulting knowledge relations amongst users and vendors of complex technologies, and the struggles involved in this process. By understanding the structure of interactions, we foreground the existence of commonalities and difference within OCs and discuss how the tensions in the community are managed to support wielding of influence and ‘orchestration’ of user-vendor relationships.



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