Task Design, Motivation, and Participation in Crowdsourcing Contests

Haichao Zheng, Dahui Li, and Wenhua Hou
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 15 Number 4, Summer 2011, pp. 57.

Abstract: Firms can seek innovative external ideas and solutions to business tasks by sponsoring co-creation activities such as crowdsourcing. To get optimal solutions from crowdsourcing contest participants, firms need to improve task design and motivate contest solvers’ participation in the co-creation process. Based on the theory of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation as well as the theory of job design, we developed a research model to explain participation in crowdsourcing contests, as well as the effects of task attributes on intrinsic motivation. Subjective and objective data were collected from 283 contest solvers at two different time points. We found that intrinsic motivation was more important than extrinsic motivation in inducing participation. Contest autonomy, variety, and analyzability were positively associated with intrinsic motivation, whereas contest tacitness was negatively associated with intrinsic motivation. The findings suggest a balanced view of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation in order to encourage participation in crowdsourcing. We also suggest that crowdsourcing contest tasks should preferably be highly autonomous, explicitly specified, and less complex, as well as require a variety of skills.

Key Words and Phrases: Analyzability, autonomy, co-creation, crowdsourcing, extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation, tacitness, task design, variability.