[Air-l] Company vs. Community

Sandeep Krishnamurthy sandeep at u.washington.edu
Thu Dec 13 09:17:59 PST 2001


I teach an MBA E-Commerce class.  In the customary class on online
communities, we started off with a simple question- "What is the difference
between a (for-profit)company and a community?"

This seemingly simple question tied us up into knots as we tried to identify
attributes that distinguished the two.  The ones we did come up with
included contractual vs. voluntary membership, rigid vs. loose
organizational structure, paid vs. unpaid participants etc.  I think you see
where I am going.

At the end of the discussion, one student(who has a Ph.D in biology) said-
"Isn't community an all-encompassing construct? Can it not be argued that a
company is really a type of community?"  While I respected his comments, it
really underscored the need to understand this better.

I know community is a construct that is backed by decades of research.  I
have seen some of the seminal works- but perhaps, not all.

How would you answer the basic question I started out with?


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