Managing organizational culture in online group mergers

Charles Kiene, Aaron Shaw, Benjamin Mako Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Research in social computing has typically conceptualized community growth as a process through which a group welcomes newcomers individually. However, online communities also grow through formal and informal mergers, where groups of newcomers with shared experiences join in batches. To understand this process, we conducted a six month, comparative ethnography of two mergers of World of Warcraft raid guilds. While one merger led to a single, thriving community, the other led to the dissolution of both pre-merger groups. Analysis of our ethnographic data suggests that differences in managing organizational culture (a concept drawn from organization studies) led the successful and failed cases to diverge. The study contributes to our understanding of why some attempts to integrate members of different communities are more successful than others. We outline several ways that community leaders, researchers, and designers can effectively take organizational culture into account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number89
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Guilds
  • Newcomer socialization
  • Online communities
  • Organizational culture
  • Organizational mergers
  • Social computing
  • Social navigation
  • Virtual worlds
  • World of Warcraft

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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