Task design, motivation, and participation in crowdsourcing contests

Haichao Zheng, Dahui Li, Wenhua Hou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

402 Scopus citations


Firms can seek innovative external ideas and solutions to business tasks by sponsoring co-creation activities such as crowdsourcing. To get optimal solutions from crowdsourcing contest participants, firms need to improve task design and motivate contest solvers' participation in the co-creation process. Based on the theory of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation as well as the theory of job design, we developed a research model to explain participation in crowdsourcing contests, as well as the effects of task attributes on intrinsic motivation. Subjective and objective data were collected from 283 contest solvers at two different time points. We found that intrinsic motivation was more important than extrinsic motivation in inducing participation. Contest autonomy, variety, and analyzability were positively associated with intrinsic motivation, whereas contest tacitness was negatively associated with intrinsic motivation. The findings suggest a balanced view of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation in order to encourage participation in crowdsourcing. We also suggest that crowdsourcing contest tasks should preferably be highly autonomous, explicitly specified, and less complex, as well as require a variety of skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-88
Number of pages32
JournalInternational Journal of Electronic Commerce
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China Grant no. 71071080.


  • Analyzability
  • autonomy
  • co-creation
  • crowdsourcing
  • extrinsic motivation
  • intrinsic motivation
  • tacitness
  • task design
  • variability


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