The electronic community factory (ECF) is proposed as an archetype for value creating cross-organization virtual communities of practice in which members engage actively and through domain-specific tools in the practice the community is about. In an ECF the reason for building the community is to appropriate the benefits of virtual networking for developing new products of added-value and collective ownership. In terms of engineering an ECF, the normative perspective adopted is that community management is distinctively different from engaging in the practice the community is about. Respectively, the tools needed for each function should embody this philosophy and be designed accordingly. The paper elaborates on the concept of the ECF and demonstrates its value through a pilot in regional tourism. Virtual ethnographic studies provide insights to operational aspects of the ECF and how it fosters community and practice management. Collectively, the results reported in the paper constitute an alternative model for community-based electronic commerce suitable for value-creating cross organization virtual communities of practice engaging in high quality product assembly in information based industries. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010.
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