Consumers’ Non-Participation in Creative Crowdsourcing: Exploration Through the Lenses of Meaning of Work: An Abstract
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Crowdsourcing is the consumers’ participation at the accomplishment of a task, traditionally performed by the internal employees (Howe 2006). Examples are proposing innovative ideas, contributing to product development or solving complex problems. Consumers may also engage in creative tasks (e.g., ad creation, logo design, packaging design), which constitutes the popular practice of creative crowdsourcing. The value and success of a creative crowdsourcing initiative require attracting sufficient numbers of participants (Hopkins 2011). This remains a persistent issue (Faullant et al. 2016): the majority of the crowd does not participate. If crowdsourcers are to be considered as workers (Cova and Dalli 2009; Rieder and Voß 2010), they must be managed and motivated. Traditional management principles, such as recruitment, hierarchy, and internal coordination, might not apply here. Therefore, this research addresses a pressing question: why may people be reluctant to participate in creative crowdsourcing and what might encourage them to participate? As the crowd is heterogenous, composed of professionals/experts in the creative tasks and others, rather ordinary/amateur consumers (Brabham 2008, 2012), this research examines the meaning that potential participants, both creative professionals and ordinary consumers, assign to their nonparticipation. To this aim, we mobilize the theoretical framework of the meaning of work (Rosso et al. 2010) borrowed from human resources literature.
Rosso et al. (2010, p. 94–95) define meaning as “the output of having made sense of something.” The meaning of work not only influences work motivation but also affects other critical organizational outcomes, such as engagement, empowerment, individual performance, and personal fulfilment (Steger et al. 2013).
The results of our qualitative study based on in-depth interviews with 19 ordinary consumers and 14 professionals from the creative sector, highlight different reasons for nonparticipation. Creative professionals express clear meanings underlying their nonparticipation decision. Their discourse highlights a resistance to current creative crowdsourcing practices, whether individually and/or collectively (Peñaloza and Price 1993), such that they “rant” and initiate expressive actions (Hirschman 1970), encouraging “general boycotts” of these practices.
Ordinary consumers’ nonparticipation can be better explained by an inability to meet their expectations or a perceived lack of competences. This absence of willingness to participate might signal a perceived lack of work/activity meaning or a perceived lack of value creation for themselves.
Current research limitations are delineated and implications for researchers and practitioners are further offered. These results should also encourage organizations to adapt their recruitment activities, based on the different crowd groups.