Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Trust and Participation - and there's more

Another model, developing the theme of trust and it's impact on participation (see my post on Time, Trust and Participation for 3 level model of trust), this time from Terry Nolan in his paper Individual trust and development of online business communities. (again, can't find a free link...)

It aligns with the economic based, information/knowledge based, identification based levels of trust, but looks at it from the standpoint of the component parts of trust, rather than the types of trust behaviour which align with participation.

Nolan identifies what sees as the component parts of trust. In his words:

  • Risk - associated with providing information to unknown participants and acting upon information received from them

  • Benefit - an overall perception that involvment will provide individual gain

  • Utility value - measured by high information quality such that it can be absorbed into immediate practice

  • Interest - indicating an inherent interest in the system and the information available

  • Effort - the effort exerted to acquire information

  • Power - an individual's ability to influence others
He believes that participation is dependant on the combinations of variables, ie

Interest vs Utility value
If interest exceeds utility value, then you have a Community of Interest, rather than a Community of Practice

Risk vs Utility
If the risk of participating outweighs the usefulness of the information, the likelihood of participation is lessened

Benefit vs Effort
If benefit outweighs effort, the individual is more likely to participate

Power vs Interest
Power gained through the possession of expertise that influences the practice of others. To participate fully, an indivual must have more than a mere interest in the topic

So the following diagram, reproduced from fig 7 in Nolan's paper, shows that the interaction between the above variables will determine how much an individual participates.

Assessing individual perception of the component elements of trust in relation to an online community appears to be a great way to identify barriers to sharing, but I'm still no further on with a strategy for facilitating the change of an individuals position from one of non or part participation to one of full participation and membership of an effective community of practice.

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