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Crowdsourcing: What can be Outsourced to the Crowd, and Why ?

Abstract : Why should a firm outsource certain activities in countries where labor is inexpensive, when by using the Internet, firms are a mouse click away from an eclectic, university educated, population ready to invest in intellectually stimulating projects for little or no remuneration ? The word Crowdsourcing –a compound contraction of Crowd and Outsourcing, was used by Howe in order to define outsourcing to the crowd. Beyond cost, benefits for the company can be substantial. It can externalize the risk of failure and it only pays for products or services that meet its expectations. The aim of this paper is to characterize Crowdsourcing from a management science perspective. Our approach is mainly theoretical, although we rely on extensive illustrations. First we discuss the definition of Crowdsourcing, and provide examples that illustrate the diversity of Crowdsourcing practices. Then, we present similarities and differences between Crowdsourcing and established theories (Open Innovation, User Innovation) and a phenomenon that has inspired many studies in Economics and Management, Open Source Software. Our goal is to avoid future misunderstandings and to show that Crowdsourcing is a concept per se. Finally, we propose and illustrate a typology of Crowdsourcing practices based on two criteria: the integrative or selective nature of the process and the type of tasks that are crowdsourced (routine, complex and creative tasks). In either case, the client firm seeks to mobilize external competencies. Relying upon the crowd can be an adequate method, because of its unique characteristics that are fostered by the Internet.
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Preprints, Working Papers, ...
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Contributor : Eric Schenk <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, December 8, 2009 - 10:38:51 AM
Last modification on : Friday, February 28, 2020 - 2:58:17 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, June 17, 2010 - 7:13:44 PM


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  • HAL Id : halshs-00439256, version 1



Eric Schenk, Claude Guittard. Crowdsourcing: What can be Outsourced to the Crowd, and Why ?. 2009. ⟨halshs-00439256v1⟩



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