Multi-stakeholder interaction in Interpretive Communities of Interest, a netnographic study of LEGO

Cecilia Haugaard & Jacob Benzon Malmmose

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis explores the interaction between stakeholders in an online sphere and aims to contribute to a relatively new stream of branding research, which perceives brands as processes in constant flux involving multi-stakeholders and brand meanings as temporary products of this process. The spark of interest was amplified when reading through known brand community literature, which almost always takes point of departure in the perspective of consumer’s and their practices within online brand communities. The co-creation-, stakeholder-, and discourse theory though guide us to understand that people engaging in social discourse, adopt different roles and co-creates brand meaning in a variety of ways, and they do so in complex stakeholder networks across online platforms. Thereby, the online sphere provides stakeholders with unprecedented opportunities to interact, and researchers with new insights into formerly inaccessible phenomena. Thereby, a netnographic method was applied and resulted in almost 1,500 interactions between stakeholders of LEGO. The analysis shows that multi-stakeholders do exist on online platforms, and often on more than one platform or in more communities. And stakeholders adopt different roles governed by the context and topic of interest arising. And when stakeholders interact they obtain different interaction styles. Through the use of different speech varieties, speech acts and tone of voices, stakeholder’s comments, states an opinion, responds and helps others when interacting in brand-related discourse. These identifications reveal diverse interaction practices adopted by different stakeholders. Eight different practices were identified and presented. Through the interactions underlying these practices, stakeholders foster both shared and conflicting interpretive strategies and discursive struggles appear. These interpretive strategies shape the co-creation of brand meaning in complex and sometimes contradictory ways. The findings also reveal how members of the brand interest group might adopt new roles and change interpretive strategies over time. The findings give rise to a discussion of the existence of an online cloud consisting of a multiple of interpretive communities of interest. This applies that stakeholders have different interests in a brand and act hereafter in community-like environments where interpretive strategies serve to develop cultural blueprints and shape the co-creation of brand meaning. Nonetheless, findings support that the identified interpretive communities of interest rarely, at this point, have developed a community-bond, and often consist of different interpretive strategies. Companies alike must understand the new insights into these phenomena to guide tactical and strategic decisions when approaching specific stakeholders in an online sphere. Through the understanding and insights into the interactions and complex co-creation of brand meaning between external stakeholders, companies can seize opportunities to better reach out and affect sentiment and behavior in a positive way.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages199