Fostering Creative Performance of Platform Crowdworkers: The Digital Feedback Dilemma

Sut I Wong, Aldijana Bunjak, Matej Černe, and Christian Fieseler
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 25, Number 3, 2021, pp. 263-286.


With crowdsourcing increasingly contributing to organizations’ innovative performance, it becomes more and more important for them to cultivate the creativity of their crowdsourcing communities. While digital feedback is the main, if not the only, two-way channel of communication between the platforms and the crowdworkers, little is yet known about how to use digital feedback to manage and foster the creative performance of crowdworkers. This study examines how the provision and nature of feedback, provided virtually through online interfaces, influence creative performance. We argue that the alleged positive relationship between the creative self-efficacy of crowdworkers and creative performance is conditional upon the joint effect of digital feedback valence and the degree to which crowdworkers focus on learning as achievement outcomes. We conducted a two-stage experimental study with 298 participants in a crowdsourcing setting. The results show that feedback provided in virtual settings, irrespective of whether the feedback is positive or negative, can be perceived as surveillance and thus hurt the creative performance of crowdworkers with high creative self-efficacy but low mastery goal orientation. However, the results also show that when receiving negative feedback, community members who have high creative self-efficacy and mastery goal orientation try harder in subsequent creative tasks. Accordingly, we advocate for nurturing platform cultures that emphasize both confidence in the contributor’s own competence and the abilities to learn and develop.