Crowdsourcing Government: Lessons from Multiple Disciplines

Helen Liu in the Public Administration Review: “Crowdsourcing has proliferated across disciplines and professional fields. Implementers in the public sector face practical challenges, however, in the execution of crowdsourcing. This review synthesizes prior crowdsourcing research and practices from a variety of disciplines and focuses to identify lessons for meeting the practical challenges of crowdsourcing in the public sector. It identifies three distinct categories of crowdsourcing: organizations, products and services, and holistic systems. Lessons about the fundamental logic of process design—alignment, motivation, and evaluation—identified across the three categories are discussed. Conclusions drawn from past studies and the resulting evidence can help public managers better design and implement crowdsourcing in the public sector.

Practitioner Points

  • Crowdsourcing studies in the public sector show that properly designed crowdsourcing platforms can empower citizens, create legitimacy for the government with the people, and enhance the effectiveness of public services and goods.
  • Research suggests that crowdsourcing decisions should be based on both solutions necessary to resolve public problems and appropriate tasks for participants who have knowledge or skills.
  • Evidence shows that prizes and rewards can increase participation rates, but opportunities for learning and skill building are essential for enhancing the quality of participants’ contributions.
  • Studies indicate that a crowdsourcing approach empowers participants through peer review by adopting constructive competition and supportive cooperation designs in the review process.
  • Studies illustrate that the establishment of an effective reputation system in the crowdsourcing process can ensure legitimate evaluation….(More)”.