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348 A Theoretical Method of Measuring Virtual Community Health and the Health of their Operating Environment in a Business Setting Brent Robertson Sancor, Canada Chapter 20 ABSTRACT This chapter discusses how virtual communities are associated with business and describes how the communities support the overall business effort. The chapter then examines the ways that the execution of certain business processes ­ such as the `lessons learned process' ­ can have a strong supporting role in maintaining the health of virtual communities. Quantitatively measuring key aspects of these business processes provides a strong indication of the health of virtual communities that are linked to the process. The chapter introduces a measurement by objectives system, describes how it can be used to assess the health of virtual communities and how this can be extrapolated to assess the supportive nature of the overall business environment the communities are operating in. INTRODUCTION Virtual communities exist within the business com- munity and within businesses themselves. They are a key part of the knowledge transfer system within a business. Companies invest money in supporting the virtual communities, not just the internal ones but external ones as well. Companies DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-040-2.ch020 tend to invest only in things which bring a net return, so their investment in these virtual com- munities suggests that many companies believe there is value in them and that they will have a net positive return on their investment. Because there is perceived value in business-based virtual communities, there needs to be a way to measure their health and provide those making the invest- ment with information related to the health of their communities. Copyright © 2011, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.