Abstract

According to conventional wisdom on crowdsourcing, the number of people defines the crowd and maximization of this number is often assumed to be the goal of any crowdsourcing exercise. However, some structural characteristics of the crowd might be more important than the sheer number of participants. These characteristics include (1) the growth rate and its attractiveness to members, (2) equality among members, (3) density within provisional bound- aries, (4) goal orientation of the crowd, and (5) “seriality” of the interactions between members. Therefore, a typology is proposed that may allow managers to position their companies’ initiatives among four strategic types for driving innovation: crowd crystals, online communities, closed crowds, and open crowds. Incumbent companies may prefer closed and controlled access to the crowd, limiting the potential for gaining results and insights from fully open crowd-driven innovation initiatives. Thus, the effects on industries and organizations by open crowds are still to be explored.

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