Embeddedness, prosociality, and social influence: Evidence from online crowdfunding

Yili Hong, Yuheng Hu, Gordon Burtch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


This paper examines how (1) a crowdfunding campaign's prosociality (the production of a public versus private good), (2) the social network structure (embeddedness) among individuals advocating for the campaign on social media, and (3) the volume of social media activity around a campaign jointly determine fundraising from the crowd. Integrating the emerging literature on social media and crowdfunding with the literature on social networks and public goods, we theorize that prosocially, public-oriented crowdfunding campaigns will benefit disproportionately from social media activity when advocates' social media networks exhibit greater levels of embeddedness. Drawing on a panel dataset that combines campaign fundraising activity associated with more than 1,000 campaigns on Kickstarter with campaign-related social media activity on Twitter, we construct network-level measures of embeddedness between and amongst individuals initiating the latter, in terms of transitivity and topological overlap. We demonstrate that Twitter activity drives a disproportionate increase in fundraising for prosocially oriented crowdfunding campaigns when posting users' networks exhibit greater embeddedness. We discuss the theoretical implications of our findings, highlighting how our work extends prior research on the role of embeddedness in peer influence by demonstrating the joint roles of message features and network structure in the peer influence process. Our work suggests that when a transmitter's message is prosocial or cause-oriented, embeddedness will play a stronger role in determining influence. We also discuss the broader theoretical implications for the literatures on social media, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, and private contributions to public goods. Finally, we highlight the practical implications for marketers, campaign organizers, and crowdfunding platform operators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1211-1224
Number of pages14
JournalMIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Yili Hong is an associate professor, codirector of the Digital Society Initiative, and Ph.D. Program Director in the Department of Information Systems at the W. P. Carey School of Business of Arizona State University. He obtained his Ph.D. in Management Information Systems at the Fox School of Business, Temple University. His research interests are in the areas of digital platforms, sharing economy, and user-generated content. He has published in journals such as Management Science, Information Systems Research, MIS Quarterly, Journal of Management Information Systems, Journal of the Association for Information Systems, and Journal of Consumer Psychology. His research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the NET Institute, and the Department of Education, among others. His research has been awarded the ACM SIGMIS Best Dissertation Award and was runner-up for the INFORMS ISS Nunamaker-Chen Dissertation Award. His papers have won best paper awards at the International Conference on Information Systems, Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Americas Conference on Information Systems, and the China Summer Workshop on Information Managment. In 2017, he was awarded the school-wide W. P. Carey Faculty Research Award. He is currently an associate editor for Information Systems Research and an editorial board member of Journal of the Association for Information Systems. He is an external research scientist for a number of tech companies, including Lyft, Freelancer, fits.me, Extole, Yamibuy, Meishi, and Picmonic.

Funding Information:
Gordon Burtch is an associate professor and McKnight Presidential Fellow in the Information and Decision Sciences Department at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. Gordon’s work has been published in a variety of leading journals in the field of Information Systems, including Management Science, Information Systems Research, MIS Quarterly, Journal of the Association for Information Systems, and Journal of Management Information Systems. He was a recipient of the INFORMS ISS and ISR Best Paper Award in 2014, the ISR Best Reviewer Award in 2016, as well as both the INFORMS ISS Sandra A Slaughter Early Career Award and the AIS Early Career Award in 2017. Goron has served several times as conference cochair for the Workshop on Information Systems and Economics, as well as a track chair and associate editor for the International Conference on Information Systems. He currently serves as an associate editor for Information Systems Research. His work has been supported by more than $175,000 in grants from Adobe as well as the Kauffman and 3M Foundations. His research and opinions have been cited by numerous prominent outlets in the popular press, including The Wall Street Journal, NPR, The Los Angeles Times, PC Magazine, VICE, and Wired. He holds a Ph.D. from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, as well as an MBA and B. Eng. from McMaster University.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2018 MISQ.


  • Crowdfunding
  • Network embeddedness
  • Peer influence
  • Prosocial campaigns
  • Public good
  • Social marketing
  • Social media
  • Social sharing


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