The Theory of Crowd Capital
in Proceedings of the Hawai’i International Conference on System Science 2013
John Prpić & Prashant Shukla
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
We are seeing more and more organizations undertaking activities to engage dispersed populations through IT. Using the knowledge-based view of the organization, this work conceptualizes the theory of Crowd Capital to explain this phenomenon. A diagram of our model is shown immediately below.
Crowd Capital is a heterogeneous knowledge resource generated by an organization, through its employ of Crowd Capability. An organization’s Crowd Capability engages the Dispersed Knowledge (Hayek 1945) of individuals –the Crowd.
Crowd Capability includes three dimensions by which an organization engages Dispersed Knowledge: a structure (some form of IT), content (the knowledge that the organization desires), and a process (internal work which sorts, filters, synthesizes, the incoming information).
Crowd Capital is always IT-mediated. In other words, forms of IT (web pages, mobile apps, sensors, software etc.) are always employed by organizations to engage the antecedent condition of Dispersed Knowledge.
Organizations exist in an environment of Dispersed Knowledge, hence, Dispersed Knowledge is not only external to the organization, but also can be engaged internally, externally or both simultaneously.
Crowd Capital can be generated through episodic or continuous forms of IT. Here we distinguish between forms of IT that necessitate community and collaboration to function, and those that do not. For example, we reason that Google’s ReCaptcha and Citizen Science applications like Foldit, do not require community and collaboration to generate Crowd Capital, whereas Innovation Communities (von Hippel 2005) and Peer Production (Benkler & Nissenbaum 2006) do.
If you’re interested, you can find a preprint copy of Prpić & Shukla (2013) here:
We very much look forward to your comments!