Synchronous Online Citizen Panels: Effects of Process, Deliberation, and Decision Confidence on Panelist Satisfaction

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Title: Synchronous Online Citizen Panels: Effects of Process, Deliberation, and Decision Confidence on Panelist Satisfaction
Author: Prosseda, Kathleen
Advisors: James H. Svara, Committee Chair
Patrick W. Hamlett, Committee Co-Chair
G. David Garson, Committee Member
Michael D. Cobb, Committee Member
Abstract: This study explores citizen satisfaction with using computer-mediated communication as a means of coming to consensus about a complex policy issue. There is little research on computer-supported collaborative work related to the online deliberation of public policy issues. Features of online communication have the potential to either enhance or detract from deliberation and consensus-building. Six volunteer citizen panels comprising the 2003 North Carolina Citizens' Technology Forum were examined. Panels were entirely Web-based and modeled after the Danish-style consensus conference. Discussions were informed and goal-directed using primarily synchronous communication. A mixed-method approach was used. Citizens reported mildly favorable impressions of their online experiences; however the regression equation did not show any significant linear relationships between overall satisfaction and the independent variables of deliberation, consensus, decision confidence, changes in trust, and changes in efficacy. Those with prior chat room experience tended to have higher satisfaction than their fellow group members. As a group, panelists did gain trust with group efficacy improving to a significant degree. The qualitative analysis, though, revealed some concerns about the credibility of the citizen forum with regard to having an impact on decision-makers. Overall, the merits of computer-mediated communication for policy discussions seemed to outweigh the challenges for this group of participants. The task/technology fit was adequate. This study shows that policy deliberations by citizens are feasible in a strictly online environment thus opening up a new public space.
Date: 2007-07-20
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Public Administration
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/5778


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