The 9 motivations to participate in networks


A couple of years ago in the course of some consulting work I developed a framework of what motivates people to participate in networks of all kinds. This includes and goes beyond the Facebooks and MySpaces of today, to community-based and values-based initiatives. These motivations need to be understood by organizations wanting to implement open innovation by drawing on external resources, environmental and social change groups, politicians and any initiative that involves drawing in broad participation from outside organizational boundaries.


The nine motivations are:

* Financial. Immediate or future financial rewards

* Contribution. Feeling of contributing to something socially worthwhile.

* Outcome. Benefiting by using or applying the outcomes created by the network.

* Learning. Learning from leading thinkers or peers or through the participation itself.

* Community. Feeling of belonging to and participating in a group with shared values or interests.

* Reputation. Enhanced reputation and esteem from others.

* Coolness. Being involved in interesting, exciting, and novel domains with broad appeal.

* Fun. Enjoying play, exploration, and social interaction.

* Fairness. Feeling there is equitable share of rewards (this is in fact most often a demotivator, if people believe that reward sharing in the network is inequitable).

When planning any network-based initiative, it’s valuable to consider each of these motivations, which ones will be the most important in driving participation, and how you can support these. It’s also a useful exercise to examine existing projects that are similar to yours. This allows you to see both how well other projects are addressing the relevant motivators, and how you can differentiate your initiative by calling on other motivations, or being more effective at providing these.

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