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HR barriers for managing online community volunteers

时间:2016-04-19 19:41来源:www.ukassignment.org 作者:anne 点击:
近年来,网络社区已经成为他们的营销使用的许多公司青睐的工具。由这种趋势的启发,也越来越需要这些企业招聘和开发人力资源,建立,建设和维护在线社区。并且,特别是,人力资源的很大一部分是自愿的在线社区的成员。为了管理这些志愿者,特别是他们的表演,是摆在企业创造有利的在线社区的一大挑战。本文研究网络社区和自愿管理者的基本属性,弗农的连接(2006年)拆除障碍人力资源绩效,并试图找到方法来应对这一具体领域的障碍。

In recent years, online communities have became a favored tool used by many companies in their marketing. Inspired by such trend, there is an increasing need for these companies to recruit and develope human resources to establish, construct and maintain online communities. And, particularly, a large portion of the human resources is voluntary online communities members. To manage these volunteers, especially their performances, is a major challenge faced by companies to create beneficial online communities. This article studies the basic properties of online communities and their voluntary administrators, connects Vernon’s (2006) Removing the barriers to HR performance, and tries to find approaches to deal with the barriers in this specific area.

Rise of the online community网络社区的兴起
 
有在履行职能方面2种在线社区。第一种作为一些公司的主要产品或服务。第二种充当补充工具,提供给一些公司的主要产品和服务的附加服务。本文只讨论第二种。此外,网络社区的形式可以是各不相同,包括公告板系统,论坛,博客等并据此公司可以使用它们来满足市场不同的目的,包括通信公司的想法,收集消费者反馈,打造平台,让消费者互相帮助,或者干脆保持一个庞大的消费群体。

Establishing business with the help of online community has become a common tool employed by companies inside information technology territories. There are two kinds of online communities in terms of their functions. The first kind acts as the major products or services of some companies. The second kind acts as an complementary tool to provide additional service to some companies major product and service. This article only discusses the second kind. Also, the forms of online community can be vary, including bulletin board system, forums, blogs and etc. And accordingly companies may use them to fulfill different purpose of marketing, including communicating companies’ ideas, gathering consumer feedbacks, creating platforms to let consumers help each other, or simply to maintain a large consumer population. Shared by all the forms of online community, the simple reason for companies to employ online community strategy is that these platforms are lowering the operation cost of these companies by not only taking advantages of low cost Internet channel but also outsourcing a significant portion of the companies’ business to their online community users. Steam is a online community created by the video game distributing company, Valve Corporation, and one of its content named Greenlight, which “is a system that enlists the community's help in picking some of the new games to be released on Steam”(Valve Corporation, 2013). Basically, communities can do a lot of work for the companies, and, in this case, picking the games. Thus, the companies are employing this tool due to a core cost-efficient reason.
Volunteers: Supply and Demand
Running an online community needs a lot of full-time administrators, moderators or community managers. Work of these administrators consists two major parts, development and maintenance of online communities, and both of them needs occasional changes and sustainable input of labor. The detail work of these two parts varies a lot, but in general, development means to add meaningful contents into the communities while maintenance means to eliminate undesired contents and keeps the communities in order.The sustainable input of labor is often less skilled and repetitive. For a company its other operation units can work 8 hours and five days a week. But an online community possibly need the administrator team to spread its members to work in a more disoriented order, and in some online communities the administrator team should cover twenty-four seven. And for most online communities, the numbers of community could be counted as thousands or even millions, which means a remarkable demand for administrators’ mass quantity and reasonable quality. From the perspective of a company, employing staffs to run the community means to pay extra than its in-company employees. This is neither cost efficient, nor consistent with the online community strategy as I stated in the last section. But online community is no different from a real community in some points. Lots of companies put their full-time employees only in the top level of the communities’ administration and recruit considerable amounts of voluntary community members to carry most of the less skilled but heavier workload.
Williams and Cothrel (2000) highlight that an online community should motivate its members to participate, and the nature of participating online community is voluntary. Based on this concerns, encouraging and training community member to be a administrator is suitable to meet the needs. And from the perspective of the common community members, they prefer to seem autonomy in the communities and enjoy freedom of speech in the largest extend. So, there is a sustainable supply of actively participating community members who want to develop and maintain the community and ask for very little or even no returns from the company . As the supply meets the demand, voluntary members become a necessary part of the moderator team for most online communities.
Challenges and barriers for volunteer management
Research for human resource management has always been focused more on paid employees rather than volunteers, let alone the new emerged online volunteers. Even the voluntary community managers are often not officially employed by companies, they are still valuable human resources for the companies. Their dedication to the community work, performance represents how well the communities work to some extend, which in return could affect the performance of these communities. The nature of community volunteers consists three aspects: they take this work voluntarily; they work virtually; they are also members of the community. The prior two features are the sources of the challenges for human resource management. Cnaan and Cascio (1996) identify the difference between volunteers and paid works. According to them, for HRM, the most significant difference between paid employees and volunteers is the motivation. Since there is no tight financial connection between the company and the volunteers the common motivation methods, for example, incentives, titles, and promotions, could not work very well for volunteers. Additionally, The devotion of these volunteers are more towards the community itself, rather than towards the company (Tippins, & Marquit, 2010, p.22). Since most of the volunteers are directly recruited from the community, they often do not have certificated qualities and need a bit of further training, and they often have a real-life work that is more important than this virtual part-time voluntary. Also, for these are online communities, a company and its HR managers are commonly not physically located in the same place with the volunteers. This means there are great communication barriers between the company and its volunteers. Weisband (2008) points out that, “a major challenges in sustaining an online group is inducing people to devote the time and effort needed to perform these community maintenance activities”(p.175). In detail, there are challenges in time arrangement. The ideas would be misunderstood in written form. And a volunteer acting perfect could even be someone sent by rival companies to sabotage the company’s online business. In order to design a effective HRM system, these two challenges must be seriously concerned.
From the angle of the companies, there are also some facts mentioned in earlier paragraphs that stand as challenges of HRM. Fundamentally, these companies will not invest too much on the online communities in order to keep cost efficient. Thus it is often seen that they are running online communities with out-of-date technologies, and leaders of the online community departments are not fully aware of the importance in volunteer management.
From these major challenges, the barriers of HRM could be identified. According to Vernon (2006), there are three kinds of general barriers in HR function.
The first is the skills of the function. “While HR has strong traditional administrative skills, it needs additional expertise to broaden its contribution across the business”(Vernon, 2006, p.1). In a general broad of view, Vernon means HR functions does not have enough cross-functional penetration in financial appreciation, technology awareness and process management. Specifically in managing online community volunteers, the HR functions are far less than in the general scale but still share the same problem. For many volunteers, their roles or functions are highly concentrated in the administrative area, which is often the primary work of maintenance. But as I mentioned before, maintenance is only one side of the coin. Development, however, should need more creativity and more efforts than maintenance, which also means it need more complicated and bold cross functional skills. For example, if a voluntary manager of an academic forum want to intergrade the findings of the community, he or she should at least possess a certain attainments in the specific area, the skills and writing styles to edit threads, and the technique to effectively communicate the authors. Though these skills do not seem to be as complicated or professional as those financial abilities or the data analysis in a paid work, they do need intentional training, experience and, mostly importantly, devotion. As I am talking about part-time volunteers working virtually, to meet such conditions is not as easy as they seem to be. In a result, the inadequate skills of the function restrict the performance of online community volunteers and further restrict the functionality of online communities.


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