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Examining the role of narratives in civic crowdfunding: linguistic style and message substance

Chang Heon Lee (Department of Business Administration, College of Business and Economics, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates)
Yiyang Bian (Department of Information Systems, College of Business, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Rajaa Karaouzene (College of Business and Economics, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates)
Nasreen Suleiman (College of Business and Economics, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Article publication date: 10 July 2019

Issue publication date: 18 September 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore how linguistic style and message substance influence persuasion in civic crowdfunding marketplaces in which written narrative pitch become a vital communication to attract private contributions to public goods and services. Drawing on the elaboration likelihood model (ELM), the authors operationalize the linguistic style of the narrative pitch as language power and message substance as issue-relevant argument quality. In this paper, the authors examine how characteristics of both style and message are related to the outcome of civic crowdfunded projects.

Design/methodology/approach

The data on civic crowdfunding projects were retrieved from Spacehive, the platform that dedicated mainly to civic projects ranging from community programs, social-oriented enterprises, to infrastructure or facility development. Each of the narrative samples is analyzed using a computerized text analysis package called the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count to extract the features of the linguistic style and message substance in the narratives. The logistic regression models are estimated to assess the impact of both linguistic style and message substance on crowdfunding decisions.

Findings

The results show that funding outcomes can be improved with psychological language dimensions (i.e. positive affective and perceptual language). However, extensive use of social language does not help project creators to increase their chance of funding performance; but instead, such language reduces the likelihood of project success. Additionally, message substance or issue-relevant information such as money and risk language influences funding outcome.

Originality/value

Very few empirical studies investigated the differential effects of language style and message substance on funding performance of crowdfunding campaigns. The authors draw upon the dual process of persuasion as a theoretical base to identify a comprehensive set of linguistic style and message substance and to examine the role of such features in an emerging civic crowdfunding market. This study advances the application of the dual process in ELM by identifying and examining distinct persuasive cues originating from linguistics styles and message contents.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This project is supported by UAE University Research Grant Code G00002617 (Funding No. 31B088), Shenzhen Special Fund for Strategic Emerging Industries Development (Grant No. JCYJ20170818100156260), and GRF Grant-City University of Hong Kong (Grant Code: 11508517 and 11507717).

Citation

Lee, C.H., Bian, Y., Karaouzene, R. and Suleiman, N. (2019), "Examining the role of narratives in civic crowdfunding: linguistic style and message substance", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 119 No. 7, pp. 1492-1514. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMDS-08-2018-0370

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited