Everything community? Destructive processes in communities of crowdsourcing competitions

Rita Faullant, Guido Dolfus

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Purpose: Virtual crowdsourcing initiatives, and in particular crowdsourcing competitions, have become a promising means of harnessing users’ creativity to help corporate innovation. To date, research has tended to focus on the outcome of the competition, i.e. on the creative solution. There is, however, a lack of understanding in such crowdsourcing environments of the creative process itself and the influence of social interaction on the platform during this process. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach: The authors conducted a series of qualitative interviews with participants from a major European crowdsourcing platform. The platform acts as an intermediary between companies and firms, and has launched more than 370 idea competitions. Findings: The results suggest that there are not only positive interactions going on between participants. Below the surface, there also appear destructive processes provoked by the fierce competition among the contestants for prizes and a position in the Top Innovator lists. Such destructive behavior includes bullying of successful contestants, excessive use of like-functions among befriended contestants, and mutual donation of prize money among in-group members. Practical implications: Negative social interaction among contestants of crowdsourcing communities can potentially threaten the platform provider’s business model. Managers of crowdsourcing platforms should engage in the development of strong social norms explicitly disapproving destructive behavior. Originality/value: This study is the first to investigate in detail the phase of idea generation on crowdsourcing platforms, and the nature and impact of social interactions among contestants.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness Process Management Journal
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1108-1128
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Crowdsourcing
  • Destructive processes
  • Idea competition
  • Motivation
  • Social interaction
  • Tournament


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