USES AND GRATIFICATION THEORY IN VIRTUAL NETWORK ANLYSIS

Ann Lind

Abstract


The changes of the conditions in the society that we have experienced during the last twenty years are extensive. The transition is characterized by the conversion of our materialistic culture into a new technological paradigm dominated by information technology. There are several important characteristics for the societies that are created by the new technology, such as for example digitalization, miniatyrization and deregulation. Another important characteristic is that networks of different kinds are created within most different areas. To compete with other entities, many companies cooperate in networks when they find that their own resources are insufficient. Geographical distances between the companies in a network are less important than cultural or organizational proximity to develop social practices. There are many advantages with cooperation in networks. The cooperation offers a possibility to share costs and risks and facilitates the work to keep a jour with constantly new information. The networks also have a role as door keepers. It is advantageous to be part of the network, but it is increasingly difficult to survive outside the networks. The basic entity is thus no longer an individual company but a network. My focus in this paper is on specific kind of virtual network, Solution Sharing Networks. In such networks organizations share knowledge and resources around a solution to a specific problem in their environment. The problem is thus a central demand that serves as a basis for the social practices that are formed within the network. But what is it really that encourages people to cooperate in a Solution Sharing Network? Uses-and-gratification-theory may be used to explain how people use different media to complete their needs. The theory may be seen as a paradigm that originally was used within media and communication research to determine motivation by studying the use of mass media, but some researchers have also suggested that the theory may be used to clarify how people use electronic communication environments to fulfill their needs. Several aspects of needs have been presented, such as for example cognitive needs, affective needs, personal integrating needs, social integrating needs and tension releasing needs. Cognitive needs may be one of the most important motivation factors to take part in the cooperation of a virtual network. This means that the kind of information available in the network as well as its quality must be a most important success factor for the cooperation in the network. But the evolution of the network may also lead to that other kinds of needs may also be fulfilled. The purpose of this paper is to take uses-and-gratification-theory as a basis for analysis of cooperation in s Solution Sharing Network. Using that analysis some models illustrating the cooperation will be presented.

Keywords


Virtual network, Solution Sharing Network, collaboration

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