Towards a characterization of crowdsourcing practices
Even though Web 2.0 is the subject of much attention, and the Social Web is a proven reality, as evidenced by the stock market valuations of its major platforms (Facebook, MySpace, etc.), the business world has yet to fully explore the possibilities of Web 2.0. Notable exceptions are marketing (Kozinets, 2002) and business intelligence. The next logical step is to apply the potential of Web 2.0 to optimize firm performance. As early as 1998, the American multinational pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly created a Crowdsourcing platform called InnoCentive to deal with this issue. The word Crowdsourcing first appeared 8 years later in an article by Howe (2006). The concept of Crowdsourcing has experienced runaway success with dozens of blogs (e.g. http://crowdsourcing.typepad.com) and books (Howe, 2008; Tapscott and Williams, 2007) treating the subject. Crowdsourcing is also discussed in academic papers dealing with Web 2.0 or Open Source Software (Ågerfalk, Fitzgerald, 2008; Albors et al., 2008; Dahlander, Magnusson, 2008). Interesting cases studies are provided by Brabham (2008) and Chanal and Caron (2008). Finally, Burger-Helmchen and Pénin (2010) propose an analysis of Crowdsourcing with respect to Transaction cost theories and evolutionary theories of the firm. The aim of our work is to characterize Crowdsourcing in its various aspects. The first section defines Crowdsourcing through exemplary cases, and compares Crowdsourcing to related concepts such as Open Innovation, User Innovation and Open Source Software. In the second section, we propose a classification of Crowdsourcing practices. The third section discusses a few benefits and pitfalls of Crowdsourcing.
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