Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2413052
 


 



Do Incentive Hierarchies Induce User Effort? Evidence from an Online Knowledge Exchange


Paulo Goes


University of Arizona - Department of Management Information Systems

Chenhui Guo


University of Arizona - Department of Management Information Systems

Mingfeng Lin


University of Arizona - Eller College of Management

January 10, 2016


Abstract:     
To motivate user contributions, UGC (User-generated content) websites routinely deploy incentive hierarchies, where users achieve increasingly higher statuses in the community after achieving increasingly more difficult goals. Yet the existing empirical literature remains largely unclear whether such hierarchies are indeed effective in inducing user contributions. We gather data from a large online crowd-based knowledge exchange to answer this question, and draw on goal setting and status hierarchy theories to study users’ contributions before and after they reach consecutive ranks on a vertical incentive hierarchy. We find evidence that even though these “glory”-based incentives may motivate users to contribute more before the goals are reached, user contribution levels drop significantly after that. The positive effect on user contribution appears only temporary. Moreover, such impacts are increasingly smaller for higher ranks. Our results highlight some unintended and heretofore undocumented effects of incentive hierarchies, and have important implications for business models that rely on user contributions, such as knowledge exchange and crowdsourcing, as well as the broader phenomenon of “gamification” in other contexts.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 37

Keywords: online knowledge exchange; motivation; status; incentive hierarchy; goals; effort; user-generated content


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Date posted: March 23, 2014 ; Last revised: May 8, 2016

Suggested Citation

Goes, Paulo and Guo, Chenhui and Lin, Mingfeng, Do Incentive Hierarchies Induce User Effort? Evidence from an Online Knowledge Exchange (January 10, 2016). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2413052 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2413052

Contact Information

Paulo Goes
University of Arizona - Department of Management Information Systems ( email )
AZ
United States
Chenhui Guo
University of Arizona - Department of Management Information Systems ( email )
AZ
United States
Mingfeng Lin (Contact Author)
University of Arizona - Eller College of Management ( email )
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States
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