Crowdsourcing: One CCPA Doctoral Student’s Research Proposal on the Crowdsourcing phenomenon.

I am a student in the doctoral program in Community and Public Affairs. I received my BA and MA in Political Science from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I come from and have worked with minorities in the multicultural society of Israel. This experience has given me a keen interest in and awareness of policies that affect different sectors of our society and the constant political battles that exist.

I am concentrating my dissertation research on the crowdsourcing (CS) phenomenon. The research is designed to expand our understanding of how integrating CS apparatus among nonprofit organizations may impact their performance. My goal is to identify potential sources for crowd participation and to measure CS influence on organizational capacity. The study will lay basis for further research on crowdsourcing from organization to community to society.

The term crowdsourcing was first conceptualized and defined by Howe (2008) as “the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.” While CS is not a contemporary phenomenon (for instance, when the police publish a ‘wanted’ ad, they crowdsource the job of locating a person), only recently has it been reconceptualized and given attention in science (Sufen, Zhonghui & Feng 2013). There are increasing examples of successful CS initiatives, such as Wikipedia and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (, in which “anyone can post tasks to be completed and specify prices paid for completing them (…) Tasks typically require little time and effort, and users are paid a very small amount upon completion (Kittur, Chi & Suh 2008).” However, research on the phenomenon among nonprofit organizations is limited. The proposed study corresponds with Brabham’s (2008) call for a qualitative research through interviews with individual members of a given crowd, which will contribute to our understanding of the conditions which make crowdsourcing initiatives to succeed or to fail.

The research will focus on Bar-Kayma (BK), a nonprofit organization (established in 2006), whose stated purpose is the promotion of “culture, art, music and peace in Jerusalem”.  Bar-Kayma is a registered association which assists and accompanies groups of artists, professionals and specialists, and supports local and independent media in Jerusalem. In Hebrew and Aramaic, “Bar-Kayma” means “sustainable”. BK is a specialized type of institution that focuses on a subculture from the mainstream social framework, practicing artists. These Organized Artist Collectives (OACs) are comprised of groups who have joined forces under a collective name. Each OAC has a unique outtake on what is art. They are all different sizes, made up of unique demographic groups, and utilize a variety of mediums of expression. As a result, this study is designed to examine OACs within the framework of BK as an overarching institution.

Pragmatic action research will be conducted in order to facilitate mixed-methods data collection through an experiment. A quantitative approach will be used to measure crowdsourcing effects. A Quasi-Experimental Nonequivalent Control Group design will take place, since half of the OACs will comprise the experimental group and the other half will comprise the control group. Between 2011 and 2012 I was the Chair of the Board of Directors for BK, and I am still a board member. The board has accepted my proposal to conduct this research, thus making the research a feasible endeavor.

By Ohad Y. Shem-Tov, College of Community and Affairs Doctoral Student

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