Last modified on January 30, 2014, at 20:26

Explaining the sustainability of digital ecosystems based on the wiki model through critical mass theory

Publication (help)
Explaining the sustainability of digital ecosystems based on the wiki model through critical mass theory
Authors: Pattarawan Prasarnphanich, Christian Wagner [edit item]
Citation: IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics 58 (6): 2065 - 2072. 2011 June. IEEE.
Publication type: Journal article
Peer-reviewed: Yes
Database(s):
DOI: 10.1109/TIE.2009.2027248.
Google Scholar cites: Citations
Link(s): Paper link
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Explaining the sustainability of digital ecosystems based on the wiki model through critical mass theory is a publication by Pattarawan Prasarnphanich, Christian Wagner.


[edit] Abstract

This research investigates the sustainability of a type of digital ecosystem, namely knowledge sharing communities built on the wiki model. Sustainability is hypothesized to result from the participation of contributors with varying levels of resources and interests. The differences in resources and interests, according to critical mass theory, enable such communities to overcome typical start-up and growth problems. The article describes a preliminary empirical test of critical mass theory in this context, with Wikipedia as test case that demonstrates sustainability as well as resource and interest heterogeneity, based on a survey of 78 Wikipedians. The characteristic patterns of success exhibited in Wikipedia are expected to inform the management of other wiki based information assets.

[edit] Research questions

"The central dilemma for the collective action model is the tension between provision of collective goods and tendency to freeride (e.g., [10, 11]). Two major challenges arise: the startup problem (insufficient initial contribution) and discontinuity problem (no continued contribution to grow knowledge base and keep it alive and up to date). These challenges call out for an increased understanding of social and technical aspects that may encourage collective volunteer acts of knowledge sharing. Consequently, we ask: What are the conditions under which collective acts of knowledge contribution occur and become self-sustaining? Seeking an answer, we target Wikipedia as a highly unique case study for large-scale, self-organizing, peerproduced content.

As a result, the following research questions are posed: RQ1: Is the shape of Wikipedia’s production function accelerating? RQ2: Are Wikipedia contributors heterogeneous in their interests? RQ3: Are Wikipedia contributors heterogeneous with respect to relevant resource availability? RQ4: Is there a critical mass (core group) in Wikipedia such that this core active group stimulates other contributors to join the effort?"

Research details

Topics: Contributor motivation, Societal antecedents of participation [edit item]
Domains: Information systems [edit item]
Theory type: Analysis [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Case [edit item]
Theories: "Critical mass theory seeks to predict the probability,

extent, and effectiveness of community action in pursuit of collective goods [11, 13, 14]. The likelihood of successfully producing collective good depends on two crucial conditions: (1) the shape of the production function of collective good and (2) the heterogeneity of resources and interests across the group of potential contributors. Critical mass refers to “a small segment of the population that chooses to make big contributions to the collective action while the majority does little or nothing.” [11]." [edit item]

Research design: Statistical analysis [edit item]
Data source: Survey responses, Wikipedia pages [edit item]
Collected data time dimension: Cross-sectional [edit item]
Unit of analysis: Article [edit item]
Wikipedia data extraction: Live Wikipedia [edit item]
Wikipedia page type: Article [edit item]
Wikipedia language: Not specified [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

"Our findings indicate that the Wiki design principles and social norms (“Wiki way”) have created the facilitating conditions for the emergence and sustainability of peer produced digital ecosystems such as Wikipedia. Thus research questions RQ1-RQ4 have been answered positively. Wiki technology and its embedded social norms mobilize Wikipedians with a wide range of interests and contributable resources to participate in an accelerative production of valuable information goods."

[edit] Comments

"Wiki technology and its embedded social norms mobilize Wikipedians with a wide range of interests and contributable resources to participate in an accelerative production of valuable information goods"


Further notes[edit]