Participation Dynamics in Crowd-Based Knowledge Production: The Scope and Sustainability of Interest-Based Motivation

41 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2013 Last revised: 29 Oct 2015

See all articles by Henry Sauermann

Henry Sauermann

ESMT European School of Management and Technology; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Chiara Franzoni

Politecnico di Milano - DIG

Date Written: November 28, 2013

Abstract

Crowd-based knowledge production is attracting growing attention from scholars and practitioners. One key premise is that participants who have an intrinsic “interest” in a topic or activity are willing to expend effort at lower pay than in traditional employment relationships. However, it is not clear how strong and sustainable interest is as a source of motivation. We draw on research in psychology to discuss important static and dynamic features of interest and derive a number of research questions regarding interest-based effort in crowd-based projects. Among others, we consider the specific versus general nature of interest, highlight the potential role of matching between projects and individuals, and distinguish the intensity of interest at a point in time from the development and sustainability of interest over time. We then examine users’ participation patterns within and across 7 different crowd science projects that are hosted on a shared platform. Our results provide novel insights into contribution dynamics in crowd science projects. Moreover, given that extrinsic incentives such as pay, status, self-use, or career benefits are largely absent in these particular projects, the data also provide unique insights into the dynamics of interest-based motivation and into its potential as a driver of effort.

Keywords: crowd science, interest, intrinsic motivation, zooniverse

JEL Classification: O31

Suggested Citation

Sauermann, Henry and Franzoni, Chiara, Participation Dynamics in Crowd-Based Knowledge Production: The Scope and Sustainability of Interest-Based Motivation (November 28, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2360957 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2360957

Henry Sauermann (Contact Author)

ESMT European School of Management and Technology ( email )

Schlossplatz 1
10117 Berlin
Germany

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Chiara Franzoni

Politecnico di Milano - DIG ( email )

Piazza Leonardo da Vinci
Milan, Milano 20100
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://www.dig.polimi.it/index.php?id=348&tx_wfqbe_pi1[id]=438

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