Ownership in the Virtual World and the Implications for Entrepreneurship and User Innovation

Michael Zhou, Mark Leenders, Ling Mei Cong

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Virtual worlds have become an arena for user-generated innovation enabling the extraction of real world value from virtual assets. These virtual assets create unique challenges on questions of ownership and its effect on user innovation. We find that the concept of ownership in the metaverse is distinct, under studied and more complex than the real world. In-depth case studies are used to understand the link between user innovation, ownership, and success in a virtual environment. The data is obtained from court cases, news and expert commentary highlighting features of entrepreneurial activities in the virtual world, the issues and outcomes. Our findings reveal that by separating content and platform ownership and their inherent interdependence poses significant challenges to entrepreneurs. Moreover, the current virtual ownership model favours platform owners while undermining other kinds of competing ownership interest being detrimental for long-term user innovation success. We further propose a framework to understand and drive successful user innovation in the virtual world.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Virtual worlds
  • user-generated innovation
  • virtual assets
  • ownership
  • Virtual environments


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