Motivating content contributions to online communities: Toward a more comprehensive theory

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Citation: S. J. J. Tedjamulia, D. L. Dean, D. R. Olsen, C. C. Albrecht (2005) Motivating content contributions to online communities: Toward a more comprehensive theory. System Sciences, 2005. HICSS'05. Proceedings of the 38th Annual Hawaii International Conference on (RSS)
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): Motivating content contributions to online communities: Toward a more comprehensive theory
Tagged: Psychology (RSS) Sociology (RSS), Online Communities (RSS), Social Media (RSS), Motivation (RSS), Social Psychology (RSS), Computer Science (RSS), CSCW (RSS)


Tedjamulia et al. define online communities essentially as online forums (essentially borrowing the setting used by Ridings and Gefen (2004)) and answering similar questions. However, while Ridings and Gefen (who they do not cite) offer a survey-based explanation, Tedjamulia et al. offer a more theoretically driven set of explanations.

After an extensive literature review that is largely framed between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, the authors propose their fundamental model. The model is shown below.

Tedjamulia 2005 model.svg

The model suggest that personal characteristics and environmental factors lead to increased commitment and personal goals which are themselves the drivers of contribution to online communities. The authors then suggest a series of propositions flowing from the model:

  1. OC participants with high self-efficacy will contribute more.
  2. OC participants with a greater need to achieve more will set higher goals and commitment themselves to achieving them more.
  3. OC members who have trust in the community will participate more.
  4. OC members who are intrinsically motivated with more committed to the community.
  5. As ease of use and interesting content increases, participants will contribute more.
  6. As group identity within a community increases, participation and contributions will increase.
  7. The more visible a persons action are to other community members, the more they will contribute.
  8. Goals and commitment mediate the relationship that personal characteristics and environmental factors have on a members contributions.
  9. Users with higher goals will contribute more.
  10. Users with higher commitment to achieving a goal will work harder and achieve more.,
  11. Rewards and reinforces that are informative and not controlling will increase a persons desire to contribute.

Theoretical and Practical Relevance

Tedjamulia et al.'s article has been cited several dozen times in the last five years. Although it offers a nice synthesis of a wide variety of literature on motivation, it adds little that was not already obvious in other places. Additionally, the collection of different factors from other literatures makes testing the model as a whole lot trickier, despite the fact that it is almost certainly more accurate and useful than the more simple model incorporating just one or two elements which are tested more frequently.