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Crowdsourcing business models that last

Thomas Kohler (Hawaii Pacific University, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA)
Marco Nickel (Tropack Packmittel, Frankfurt, Germany)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 18 April 2017




The purpose of this paper is to discuss how to sustain crowdsourcing business models. Emerging companies are innovating their business model to rely on a crowd of participants and involve contributing users in value capture. While some organizations demonstrate initial success, sustaining a crowdsourcing business model is challenging.


The study is based on a comparative case study of the prominent crowdsourcing communities Threadless and Quirky. Participatory observation resulted in over 380 analyzed comments.


Seven lessons from Threadless’s success and Quirky’s failure are discussed to derive implications for sustaining crowdsourcing business models.

Research limitations/implications

Because both cases are integrator platforms build around contests, other crowdsourcing platform types should be studied to enrich the findings.

Practical implications

Managers receive guidance on how to design a sustainable business model that involves the crowd in creating value and lets the crowd participate in value capture.


Current research primarily addresses the question of how companies can take advantage of crowdsourcing and mainly considers corporate value capture. The original contribution of this article is a set of strategies to sustain crowdsourcing platforms by taking a platform’s entire business model into account.



Kohler, T. and Nickel, M. (2017), "Crowdsourcing business models that last", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 38 No. 2, pp. 25-32.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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