Perceptions of Power in the Digital Era: An Investigation of Idea Crowdsourcing versus Crowdvoting: An Abstract
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Research is clear that (1) social power is an important part of understanding the relationship between parties in an exchange (French and Raven 1959); (2) digital technologies have shifted more power into the hands of consumers (Füller et al. 2009; Labrecque et al. 2013; Pitt et al. 2002); and (3) there are a range of crowdsourcing activities in which consumers are able to exercise their power (Wilson 2018; Wilson et al. 2018; Prpic et al. 2015). Yet, there exists no research, which provides insight into the consumer perception of power in the context of crowdsourcing, nor there exists a measurement instrument for understanding consumer perceptions of their own power. Enhancing the understanding of these areas is the goal of this research. In this work, we utilize French and Raven's (1959) theory of social power. Specifically, we adapt the Perceived Social Power Scale by Imai (1989) for measuring consumer perceptions of power in the context of crowdsourcing and present the results of an experiment designed to test how individuals in consumer collectives perceive their position of power when engaged in digitally enabled crowdsourcing activities.
In this exploratory research, we focus on crowdvoting and idea crowdsourcing. Based on Wilson’s (2018) paper, we compare consumers’ perceptions of expert and coercive power when engaged in either an idea crowdsourcing or a crowdvoting activity. Participants reported their perceived social power in response to hypothetical scenarios in which they engage in specific forms of crowdsourcing. Participants were given a scenario that describes participation in a crowdsourcing endeavor. They were requested to imagine that they are participating in the described crowdsourcing initiative themselves. After this, the participants completed the adapted perceived social power scale.
Subjects in the idea crowdsourcing scenario displayed a higher level of coercive power than subjects in the crowdvoting scenario. Contrarily, subjects in the idea crowdsourcing scenario displayed a lower level of coercive power than subjects in the crowdvoting scenario. Our study offers contributions to both the academic literature and to practice. For academics, this research adopts and validates a scale for measuring consumer power in the context of crowdsourcing. For practitioners, our findings provide insights into the power dynamics at play during crowdsourcing activities.