Sense of Virtual Community: A Conceptual Framework and Empirical Validation

Joon Koh and Young-Gul Kim
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 8, Number 2, Winter 2003-4, pp. 75.

Abstract: The sense of virtual community is a principal construct in virtual community research. Therefore understanding it in depth is important for studies of communities-of-practice, virtual collaboration, virtual organization, and other critical organizational and information systems issues. This article conceptualizes and operationalizes the sense of virtual community, and validates several of its antecedents. An analysis of 172 members of 44 virtual communities found that the sense of virtual community is affected by the enthusiasm of the community’s leaders, off-line activities available to members, and enjoyability. These characteristics had a stronger impact for members of virtual communities that originated on-line than for those in communities that originated off-line. The implications of the findings and future research directions are discussed.

Key Words and Phrases: Virtual community, virtual community origin, sense of virtual community.