How institutional logics shape fairness in crowdsourcing: The case of Threadless

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Fairness is essential for successful crowdsourcing. Without it, companies run the risk of consumers not participating, or worse, sabotaging the crowdsourcing initiative. Yet little is known about how consumers determine what is fair in crowdsourcing. Building on theories of organizational justice and institutional logics, and using a longitudinal netnography of Threadless, a popular crowdsourcing platform, this paper shows how experiences of fairness stem from the interaction between two conflicting crowdsourcing logics: the logic of renewal and the logic of community. The two logics inform notions of fairness in crowdsourcing contests across procedural, distributive, and interactional justice dimensions. A balance between the two logics is ideal for maintaining fairness among a crowdsourcing community. We show the conditions in which crowdsourcing participants tolerate transgressions to each justice dimension, consequently emphasizing one logic over the other. Overall, our study advances theory on crowdsourcing logics and how they guide notions of procedural, distributive, and interactional fairness in crowdsourcing. Our study also offers new guidance on how to manage fairness in crowdsourcing.


International Journal of Research in Marketing


College of Management



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