In Beta: An Action Research Journey of Developing Music Communities as an App Creator

  • Andrew Ko

Student thesis: Phd


Music is an essential part of people's every day lives, accompanying them as they go about their daily routines, and it can be experienced in almost any context now; which allows us to capture, categorize and reconstruct the activities and memories that shape our personal, social and cultural lives. In this thesis, the area of concern that I explore is the creation of an online community based on people's experiences with music. Because of the personal nature of the topic and the tendency for the information to change over time, the methodology I chose was action research, specifically Checkland and Holwell's (1998) FMA methodology. Using this approach, I investigate the different kinds of technology that can be used to build the foundations of the community and which factors are most salient to facilitate member growth. I also examine the effects that user-generated content has on the participation within an online community and the technological features that aid in facilitating this. I discovered that trust is a vital part of an online community because it fosters cooperation between members through visible pro-social behaviour, and that a combination of ease of use, usefulness and the size of the community could influence the participation and activity of users in generating content. I also found that the development cycle for Internet software never ends, thus permanently in beta, as there will always be improvements to the community based on user feedback. I analyzed the data by comparing key metrics such as membership and user-generated content growth for each community to see if the learning and reflections from previous cycles helped improve community participation in the current cycle. The results I obtained and method I used in the thesis demonstrated my contribution to the body of knowledge in using action research theory, specifically the FMA methodology, to investigate, learn and develop an online community as an app creator. I argue that action research can help guide academic-based startups in much the same way as other startup frameworks and this point is one of the focuses for future research on this topic.
Date of Award31 Dec 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPeter Kawalek (Supervisor) & John Murphy (Supervisor)


  • Beta Software
  • Music
  • Technology Adoption
  • Shared Experiences
  • Action Research
  • Context
  • Online Communities

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