Yet the emphasis on the social and or
Yet, the emphasis on the social and/or political purpose of timebanking may have obscured the fact that they are, at the core, exchange networks. TBs are created to offer a space for exchanges of services between individuals, even though the TB may encourage other activities, such as social gatherings. Or otherwise said, the exchange network may be instrumental in achieving other goals, be it political, social, and/or social welfare goals (Collom, Lasker, & Kyriacou, 2012). Still, at the core of timebanking is the creation of a market where peers exchange with one another. TBs are markets for exchange between peers, thus they are a context of study for marketing. Moreover, traditional discussions in marketing (e.g., how to build ongoing relationships) are also timely in these C2C markets.
Understanding what goals TB members want to achieve through their membership is of paramount importance, as previous research has demonstrated different types of participation in TBs: users that willingly offer several services; yet, they don’t ask for any; users that take part in organizing committees or in gatherings/meetings but carry out limited exchanges; users that join but don’t carry out any exchanges (Valor & Papaoikonomou, 2016). This reluctance to carry out transactions is the main reason why TBs fail (Papaoikonomou & Valor, 2016).
This paper aims to shed light on the goals of TB users to participate in these C2C networks and the reasons leading to a greater number of exchanges in timebanking. By drawing on goal Erastin and nonprofit motivation literatures, we posit that members will carry out more exchanges if they set goals that will be achieved by demanding services (e.g. economic goals, or learning goals); in contrast, those members setting political goals and social goals will be less active in the exchange network as these goals may be achieved symbolically, by being just members of the TB. According to Pieters, Baumgartner, and Allen (1995), goals serve two main motivational functions: first, they direct behaviors by establishing mental plans to achieve the desired end, second, they define the intensity of the behavior. Therefore, drawing from goal theory can enrich our understanding of the participation patterns in TBs, in particular, and C2C exchange networks, in general.
Antecedents: timebanking TBs were created in the 1980s in the US by the civil rights lawyer Edgar Cahn in response to the erosion of informal neighborhood networks (Seyfang, 2003). There are different pillars to the philosophy of the TB paradigm (Seyfang, 2006, p. 6, see also Cahn, 2001): “recognizing people as assets and that everyone has skills to share; redefining work to include the unpaid ‘core economy’ of work in the neighborhood and community; nurturing reciprocity and exchange rather than dependency; growing social capital; encouraging learning and skills-sharing; involving people in decision making”. Initially, TBs were promoted as a tool to create social capital especially among the unemployed and the socially excluded (e.g. the elderly, the disabled) and as a means to foster inclusion and equality (Collom, 2008; Kimmel, 2008), rather than as a challenge or an attack on the system. As several authors advocate (Collom, 2008; Kimmel, 2008; Seyfang, 2006), timebanking tries to deal with the social problems created by the current system: the erosion of the Economy of Care due to the impossibility of reaching full employment and the criminalization or denigration of non-paid jobs. Thanks to the participation in these exchange networks, TB members could acquire skills that could improve their employability, enlarge their social networks from which they could later gain support or have access to services that they could not afford otherwise. Enlarging or improving social relations is probably the most characteristic objective of TBs. Similar to the findings in the volunteer field (e.g. MacNeela, 2008), the TB study of Seyfang (2003) in the UK found that there are five main motives for joining, that go from self-centered to other centered: meeting own needs, building community capacity, improving skills, helping other people, and building social capital. Likewise, Miller\'s work in Japanese TBs (2008) identifies companionship as an important motive to join, especially for those leaving the workplace. Dubois et al. (2014) find that, for those members that were new in town, the need to integrate and “meet new people” played an important role to their joining the TB, thus contributing to the creation of bonding social capital. Other motives include nostalgia for “neighborliness” (p. 43), environmentalism, authenticity and holistic wellness.