Web-based discussion groups (WBDG) are a promising method for engaging in research with farmers. Their most attractive features are that they are expected to encourage a rich dialogue, as successive posters built on the contributions of the original visitors, as well as allow all opinions to be expressed and time for issues to be thought through.
The research for this paper uses a failed WBDG (designed to explore the management intentions of a group of irrigation farmers facing significant water reforms) as a case study. Informal unstructured telephone interviews were carried out with twenty-eight WBDG non-participants to identify and explore best practices in WBDG development and identify possible barriers to participation.
After the analysis of interview responses a number of issues were identified as contributing to decisions regarding participation in the WBDG including: (1) lack of time, (2) uncertain benefits / relevance, (3) lack of IT skills and abilities and (4) Internet speed.
Although lack of time was the most commonly cited reason, it is more likely that an individual’s willingness to participate was related to perceptions of relevance either for that individual or for their community. Relevance is also influenced by timing, in that change caused by exogenous forces is continually happening, so that depending on the nature of the changes, at any point in time there may be greater or lesser relevance.
As farmers appear to use the Internet sparingly, reluctantly and in a way that best suits their needs, the extent to which they choose to participate in WBDGs will be strongly dependent on the farmers themselves, but will also be affected by the relevance of the issue being considered, the timing of the research and how this interacts with and influences the relevance of the discussion topic.
|Keywords:||Web-based Discussion Groups, Internet, Farmers|
PhD Student, Division of Business, School of Commerce, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Associate Research Professor, Business, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada and University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia
There are currently no reviews of this product.Write a Review