Incentives for Participation in CNs (v1)

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Executive Summary: 
Community networks across Europe and worldwide compose an extremely colorful picture with respect to both the societal dimensions they embody and their organizational structures. These two aspects of Community Networks (CNs) were analyzed in the netCommons deliverables D1.2 and D2.2, respectively. Equally versatile are the roles and incentives of their stakeholders, i.e., of all those entities (users, volunteers, public administration bodies and private companies) that contribute to these complex socio-technical ecosystems one way or another. This first edition of the netCommons deliverable on ”Incentives for Participation and Active Collaboration in CNs” aims to systematically survey, analyze, and classify the variety of incentives that motivate the participation of different stakeholders in a CN. To this end, we first explicate in section 1 who these stakeholders are and the different dimensions CNs bear as socio-technical entities, drawing on the work reported in D1.2 and D2.2, respectively. In this same introductory section, we also distinguish between intrinsic incentives of stakeholders, i.e., intrinsic motives that encourage participation in CNs, against extrinsic incentive mechanisms that are put in place to further encourage such participation. Finally, for end users, we identify different modes and levels of participation, ranging from the “free rider” to the “power user” type. We then proceed in section 2 with a presentation and discussion of incentives per CN stakeholder (users, volunteers, professionals, and public authorities). For each stakeholder group, we distinguish between incentives of economic, socio-cultural, and political nature and provide examples of their expression in specific CN instances. Our work in this section draws on: (a) an exhaustive survey of papers and reports that have appeared in the scientific literature on this matter over the last decade; (b) questionnaires and structured interviews with leading figures of various CNs that we carried out in the context of netCommons; and (c) accumulated experience within the project out of our interaction with specific community networks (e.g.,,, Section 3 focuses on incentive mechanisms. It reviews mechanisms that are actually realized in existing CNs but also others that have been proposed in literature, without necessarily being applied to a specific CN. In the second case, it expands on mechanisms that have been proposed for other collaborative systems that present strong similarities with CNs in terms of organizational structure and distributed operation principles such as the wireless ad hoc networks, peer-to-peer systems, and online virtual communities. In section 4, we pick up two CN instances, and, as case studies for the detailed analysis that will follow in Y2 of the project. We explain why these two are chosen and present their detailed anatomy in terms of stakeholders, their incentives and the mechanisms put in place by the CN volunteer groups to ensure participation in the CNs. We conclude in section 5 with a preview of ongoing research work on the analysis of the incentive mechanisms in these two CNs, which will escalate during Y2 of the project and will be reported in the follow-up edition of this deliverable (netCommons deliverable D2.8). The current deliverable reports on the research conducted in the context of Task 2.2 of the netCommons project during the first year of its lifetime. This research takes inputs from D1.2 (organizational structure of CNs, stakeholders and roles) and D2.2 (different aspects of sustainability in CNs). In turn, it motivates and sets a solid background for: the follow-up work in Task 2.2, which will be reported in D2.8 (on the design and analysis of incentive mechanisms for CNs); the work in Task 2.3 on economic sustainability and alternative currencies, reported in D2.4 and D2.6 (alternative currencies as a participation incentive mechanism for CNs); but also the work on applications in WP3 (native applications as incentives for participation in CNs).