Un(der)paid Innovators: The Commercial Utiliza-tion of Consumer Work through Crowdsourcing

Frank Kleemann, G. Günter Voß, Kerstin Rieder


This paper investigates the phenomena of "crowdsourcing", or the outsourcing of tasks to the general internet public. This phenomenon was made possible by tech-nological innovations associated with "Web 2.0" but is evidence of historically sig-nificant change in the relations between firms and their customers. We are witness-ing the emergence of a new consumer type: the "working consumer". In the con-ventional role, consumers were passive “kings” to be waited upon. Consumers now are becoming more like co-workers who take over specific parts of a production process, whereby this process ultimately remains under the control of a commercial enterprise. This article seeks a more precise definition of crowdsourcing, catalogues some of its forms, and differentiates them from peripherally related phenomena. It ends with a discussion regarding potential consequences (negative and positive) of crowdsourcing for the future organization of work.

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