Many firms are now asking how they can benefit from the new form of outsourcing labelled “crowdsourcing”. Like many other forms of outsourcing, crowdsourcing is now being “talked up” by a somewhat credulous trade press. However, the term crowdsourcing has been used to describe several related, but different phenomena, and what might be successful with one form of crowdsourcing may not be with another. In this paper the notion of crowdsourcing is decomposed to create a taxonomy that expands our understanding of what is meant by the term. This taxonomy focuses on the different capability levels of crowdsourcing suppliers; different motivations; and different allocation of benefits. The management implications of these distinctions are then considered in light of what we know about other forms of outsourcing.



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