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Beyond the Opposition Between Altruism and Self-interest: Reciprocal Giving in Reward-Based Crowdfunding

Abstract

Increasingly, frontiers between business and philanthropy seem to be blurred. Reward-Based Crowdfunding platforms contribute to this blurring of lines since they propose funders to support both for-profit and philanthropic projects. Our empirical paper explores the case of Ulule, the leading crowdfunding platform in Europe. Our results, based on a statistical analysis of more than 3000 projects, show that crowdfunding platforms foster specific kinds of relationships relying on reciprocal giving, beyond the usual opposition between altruistic and selfish motivations. We use the work of Marcel Mauss to account for this process of reciprocal giving, and we argue that Maussian theory of gift can be used more generally to describe funding activities in the context of early stage entrepreneurship.

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Acknowledgments

We wish to thank Tobias Goessling and the editors of the thematic symposium on "Business Ethics, Peace & Environmentas" as well as two anonymous reviewers for their helpful guidance and feedback. We are also very grateful to Arnaud Burgot, COO of Ulule and his team for allowing us to collect and analyze such interesting data.

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Correspondence to Kévin André.

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André, K., Bureau, S., Gautier, A. et al. Beyond the Opposition Between Altruism and Self-interest: Reciprocal Giving in Reward-Based Crowdfunding. J Bus Ethics 146, 313–332 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-017-3652-x

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Keywords

  • Crowdfunding
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Gift
  • Philanthropy
  • Reciprocity
  • Mauss