The use of IT-enabled crowdsourcing with employees in enterprises has increased substantially in recent years. This phenomenon, which we refer to as ‘internal crowdsourcing’, is distinct both from external crowdsourcing with end users and from hierarchy-based work with employees. A literature stream has emerged that corresponds with the increased relevance of internal crowdsourcing in practice. The purpose of this review paper of internal crowdsourcing is to provide conceptual development, synthesise the literature, and provide a research agenda. In the review reported in this paper, we systematically analysed and critically reviewed the literature in this domain published thus far (74 papers). We found useful findings and insights into a new and relevant IT-enabled phenomenon. At the same time, we also found conflicting definitions and conceptualisation, as well as research efforts that are not well integrated. The paper supports future research on internal crowdsourcing by providing improved conceptualisation, consolidating insights, and identifying important areas for future research.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
To make reading of this paper easier, we consistently use the terms ‘enterprises’ to refer to business enterprises and organisations more broadly, ‘employees’ to refer to members of such enterprises or organisations, and ‘end users’ to mean independent external people such as customers, consumers, or the general public.
The Australian Research Council’s (ARC) ‘Excellence in Research for Australia 2010’ reports rated (all) academic journals and conference and they are the most comprehensive of such assessment reports available. The ARC has released a newer assessment report (2014) that does not include ratings. We used outlet ratings for our review because they were helpful as a first indication of quality of outlets unknown to us (i.e., we acknowledge that there are problems and shortcomings with such rating approaches in general).
Abu El-Ella, N., Stoetzel, M., Bessant, J. and Pinkwart, A. (2013). Accelerating High Involvement: The role of new technologies in enabling employee participation in innovation, International Journal of Innovation Management 17 (6): 1–22.
Afuah, A. and Tucci, C. L. (2012). Crowdsourcing as a solution to distant search, Academy of Management Review 37 (3): 355–375.
Ågerfalk, P.J. and Fitzgerald, B. (2008). Outsourcing to an Unknown Workforce: Exploring opensourcing as a global sourcing strategy, MIS Quarterly 32 (2): 385–409.
Andriole, S.J. (2010). Business Impact of Web 2.0 Technologies, Communications of the ACM 53 (12): 67–79.
Aral, S., Dellarocas, C. and Godes, D. (2013). Introduction to the Special Issue: Social media and business transformation: A framework for research, Information Systems Research 24 (1): 3–13.
ARC [Australian Research Council] (2011a). Excellence in Research for Australia 2010 Ranked Conference List [final version, January 2011]. Report.
ARC [Australian Research Council] (2011b). Excellence in Research for Australia 2010 Ranked Journal List [final version, January 2011]. Report.
Bailey, B.P. and Horvitz, E. (2010). What’s Your Idea? A Case Study of a Grassroots Innovation Pipeline within a Large Software Companyin Proceedings of the ACM SIG CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Atlanta, Georgia).
Benbya, H. and van Alstyne, M. (2011). How To Find Answers within Your Company, MIT Sloan Management Review 52 (2): 65–76.
Bharati, P., Zhang, W. and Chaudhury, A. (2015). Better Knowledge with Social Media? Exploring the Roles of Social Capital and Organizational Knowledge Management, Journal of Knowledge Management 19 (3): 456–475.
Bjelland, O.M. and Wood, R.C. (2008). An Inside View of IBM’s ‘Innovation Jam’, MIT Sloan Management Review 50 (1): 32–40.
Boell, S.K. and Cecez-Kecmanovic, D. (2015a). On Being ‘Systematic’ in Literature Reviews in IS, Journal of Information Technology 30 (2): 161–173.
Boell, S.K. and Cecez-Kecmanovic, D. (2015b). Debating Systematic Literature Reviews (SLR) and Their Ramifications for IS: A rejoinder to Mike Chiasson, Briony Oates, Ulrike Schultze and Richard Watson, Journal of Information Technology 30 (2): 188–193.
Bonabeau, E. (2009). Decisions 2.0: The power of collective intelligence, MIT Sloan Management Review 50 (2): 45–52.
Boudreau, K.J. and Lakhani, K.R. (2011). Incentives and problem uncertainty in innovation contests? An empirical analysis, Management Science 57 (5): 843–863.
Boudreau, K.J. and Lakhani, K.R. (2013). Using the Crowd as an Innovation Partner, Harvard Business Review 91 (4): 60–69.
Bughin, J., Chui, M. and Pollak, L. (2013). Organizing for Change through Social Technologies [www document] http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/organizing-for-change-through-social-technologies-mckinsey-global-survey-results (accessed 28 April 2016).
Chiu, C.-M., Liang, T.-P. and Turban, E. (2014). What Can Crowdsourcing Do for Decision Support? Decision Support Systems 65 (1): 40–49.
Denyer, D., Parry, E. and Flowers, P. (2011). ‘Social’, ‘Open’ and ‘Participative’? Exploring Personal Experiences and Organisational Effects of Enterprise 2.0 Use, Long Range Planning 44 (5–6): 375–396.
Di Gangi, P.M. and Wasko, M. (2009). Steal My Idea! Organizational Adoption of User Innovations from a User Innovation Community: A case study of Dell IdeaStorm, Information Product Markets 48 (1): 303–312.
Erickson, L.B. (2012). Leveraging the Crowd as a Source of Innovation: Does crowdsourcing represent a new model for product and service innovation? in Proceedings of the ACM SIG MIS Computers and People Research Conference (Milwaukee, Wisconsin).
Erickson, L., Petrick, I. and Trauth, E. (2012a). Hanging with the Right Crowd: Matching crowdsourcing need to crowd characteristics, in Proceedings of the Americas Conference on Information Systems (Seattle, Washington DC).
Erickson, L.B., Trauth, E.M. and Petrick, I. (2012b). Getting Inside Your Employees’ Heads: Navigating barriers to internal crowdsourcing for product and service innovation, in Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems (Orlando, FL).
Estellés-Arolas, E. and González-Ladrón-de-Guevara, F. (2012). Towards an Integrated Crowdsourcing Definition, Journal of Information Science 38 (2): 189–200.
Ezzy, D. (2002). Qualitative Analysis: Practice and Innovation, London: Routledge.
Gaspoz, C. (2011). Prediction Markets as Web 2.0 Tools for Enterprise 2.0, in Proceedings of the Americas Conference on Information Systems (Detroit, Michigan).
Geiger, D., Seedorf, S., Schulze, T., Nickerson, R.C. and Schader, M. (2011). Managing the Crowd: Towards a taxonomy of crowdsourcing processes, in Proceedings of the Americas Conference on Information Systems (Detroit, Michigan).
Guy, I., Hashavit, A. and Corem, Y. (2015). Games for Crowds: A crowdsourcing game platform for the enterprise, in Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (Vancouver, Canada).
Hetmank, L. (2014). A Synopsis of the Enterprise Crowdsourcing Literature, in Proceedings of the European Conference on Information Systems (Tel Aviv, Israel).
Hoerbelt, C. (2013). Deutsche Telekom’s Internal Crowdsourcing [www document] http://www.crowdsourcing.org/editorial/deutsche-telekoms-internal-crowdsourcing/27131 (accessed 2nd September 2015).
Holtzblatt, L., Drury, J., Weiss, D., Damianos, L. and Cuomo, D. (2012). Evaluation of the Uses and Benefits of a Social Business Platform, in Proceedings of the ACM SIG CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Austin, TX).
Howe, J. (2006). The Rise of Crowdsourcing, Wired 14 (6): 1–4.
Hu, M. and Schlagwein, D. (2013). Why Firms Use Social Media: An absorptive capacity perspective, in Proceedings of the European Conference on Information Systems (Utrecht, the Netherlands).
Jeppesen, L.B. and Lakhani, K.R. (2010). Marginality and Problem-solving Effectiveness in Broadcast Search, Organization Science 21 (5): 1016–1033.
Jette, A., Breck, A. and Johns, R. (2015). Integrating Balanced Scorecard Performance Management with Crowdsourced Strategic Planning, in Proceedings of the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting (Washington DC).
Kane, G.C. (2015). Enterprise Social Media: Current capabilities and future possibilities, MIS Quarterly Executive 14 (1): 1–16.
Kitchenham, B. (2004). Procedures for Performing Systematic Reviews [www document] http://www.scm.keele.ac.uk/ease/sreview.doc (accessed 28 April 2016).
Kitchenham, B.A. and Charters, S. (2007). Guidelines for Performing Systematic Literature Reviews in Software Engineering [www document] http://cdn.elsevier.com/promis_misc/525444systematicreviewsguide.pdf (accessed 28 April 2016).
Koch, H., Gonzalez, E. and Leidner, D. (2012). Bridging the Work/Social Divide: The emotional response to organizational social networking sites, European Journal of Information Systems 21 (6): 699–717.
Kügler, M., Dittes, S., Smolnik, S. and Richter, A. (2015). Connect Me! Antecedents and Impact of Social Connectedness in Enterprise Social Software, Business & Information Systems Engineering 57 (3): 181–196.
Kügler, M., Smolnik, S. and Kane, G.C. (2015). What’s in IT for Employees? Understanding the Relationship between Use and Performance in Enterprise Social Software, Journal of Strategic Information Systems 24 (2): 90–112.
Kügler, M., Smolnik, S. and Raeth, P. (2013). Determining the Factors Influencing Enterprise Social Software Usage: Development of a measurement instrument for empirical assessment, in Proceedings of the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (Wailea, Maui, Hawaii).
Kuppuswamy, V. and Bayus, B.L. (2014). Crowdfunding Creative Ideas: The dynamics of project backers in Kickstarter [www document] http://ssrn.com/abstract=2234765 (accessed 28 April 2016).
Laredo, J., Vukovic, M. and Rajagopal, S. (2012). Service for Crowd-driven Gathering of Non-discoverable Knowledge, in Proceedings of the International Conference on Service-oriented Computing (Shanghai, China).
Leimeister, J., Bretschneider, U., Huber, M. and Krcmar, H. (2009). Leveraging Crowdsourcing: Activation-supporting components for IT-based ideas competition, Journal of Management Information Systems 26 (1): 197–224.
Leonardi, P.M., Huysman, M. and Steinfield, C. (2013). Enterprise Social Media: Definition, history, and prospects for the study of social technologies in organizations, Journal of Computer-mediated Communication 19 (1): 1–19.
Leung, N., van Rooij, A. and van Deen, J. (2014). Eureka! Lessons Learned from an Evaluation of the Idea Contest at Deltares, Research Technology Management 57 (4): 44–50.
Levy, M. (2009). Web 2.0 Implications on Knowledge Management, Journal of Knowledge Management 13 (1): 120–134.
Lin, D. and Ehrlich, S. (2012). Enterprise Wiki Application Scenarios and Their Relation to User Motivation, in Proceedings of the European Conference on Knowledge Management (Cartagena, Spain).
Lopez, M., Vukovic, M. and Laredo, J. (2010). PeopleCloud Service for Enterprise Crowdsourcing, in Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Services Computing (Miami, FL).
Majchrzak, A., Cherbakov, L. and Ives, B. (2009). Harnessing the Power of the Crowds with Corporate Social Networking Tools, MIS Quarterly Executive 8 (2): 103–108.
Majchrzak, A. and Malhotra, A. (2013). Towards an Information Systems Perspective and Research Agenda on Crowdsourcing for Innovation, Journal of Strategic Information Systems 22 (4): 257.
Majchrzak, A. and Markus, M.L. (2013). Technology Affordances and Constraints in Management Information Systems (MIS), in E. Kessler (ed.) Encyclopaedia of Management Theory, Thousand Oaks: Sage, pp. 832–835.
Malone, T. W., Laubacher, R. and Dellarocas, C. (2009). Harnessing Crowds: Mapping the Genome of Collective Intelligence. Social Science Research Network Working Paper Series.
McAfee, A.P. (2006). Enterprise 2.0: The dawn of emergent collaboration, IEEE Engineering Management Review 34 (3): 38–47.
McAfee, A.P. (2009). Shattering the Myths about Enterprise 2.0, Harvard Business Review 87 (11): 1–6.
Meloche, J.A., Hasan, H.M., Willis, D., Pfaff, C. and Qi, Y. (2009). Co-creating Corporate Knowledge with a Wiki, International Journal of Knowledge Management 5 (2): 33–50.
Milovanović, M., Minović, M., Štavljanin, V., Starčević, D. and Savković, M. (2012). Wiki as a Corporate Learning Tool: Case study for software development company, Behaviour and Information Technology 31 (8): 767–777.
Muller, M., Geyer, W., Soule, T., Daniels, S. and Cheng, L.-T. (2013). Crowdfunding Inside the Enterprise: Employee initiatives for innovation and collaboration, in Proceedings of the ACM SIG CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Paris, France).
Olsen, T. and Carmel, E. (2013). The Process of Atomization of Business Tasks for Crowdsourcing, Strategic Outsourcing 6 (3): 208–212.
Patten, K.P. and Keane, L.B. (2010). Enterprise 2.0 Management and Social Issues, Americas Conference on Information Systems (Lima, Peru).
Pedersen, J., Kocsis, D., Tripathi, A., Tarrell, A., Weerakoon, A., Tahmasbi, N. and De Vreede, G.-J. (2013). Conceptual Foundations of Crowdsourcing: A review of IS research, in Proceedings of the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (Wailea, Maui, Hawaii).
Prpic, J., Kietzmann, J.H., McCarthy, I.P. and Shukla, P.P. (2015). How to Work a Crowd: Developing crowd capital through crowdsourcing, Business Horizons 58 (1): 77–85.
Raman, A.P. and McAffee, A.P. (2009). Enterprise 2.0: How connected workforce innovates, Harvard Business Review 87 (11): 1–4.
Razmerita, L., Kirchner, K. and Nabeth, T. (2014). Social Media in Organizations: Leveraging personal and collective knowledge processes, Journal of Organizational Computing and Electronic Commerce 24 (1): 74–93.
Riemer, K. and Scifleet, P. (2012). Enterprise Social Networking in Knowledge-intensive Work Practices: A case study in a professional service firm, in Proceedings of the Australasian Conference on Information Systems (Geelong, Australia).
Riemer, K.D., Stieglitz, S. and Meske, C. (2015). From Top to Bottom, Business & Information Systems Engineering 57 (3): 197–212.
Rohrbeck, R., Thom, N. and Arnold, H. (2015). IT Tools for Foresight: The integrated insight and response system of Deutsche Telekom Innovation Laboratories, Technological Forecasting and Social Change 97 (1): 115–126.
Rowe, F. (2014). What Literature Review Is Not: Diversity, boundaries and recommendations, European Journal of Information Systems 23 (3): 241–255.
Schlagwein, D. and Bjørn-Andersen, N. (2014). Organizational Learning with Crowdsourcing: The revelatory case of LEGO, Journal of the Association of Information Systems 15 (11): 754–778.
Schlagwein, D., Schoder, D. and Fischbach, K. (2011). Social Information Systems: Framework, review and research agenda, International Conference on Information Systems (Shanghai, China).
Schneckenberg, D. (2009). Web 2.0 and the Shift in Corporate Governance from Control to Democracy, Knowledge Management Research and Practice 7 (3): 234–248.
Schneider, D., Moraes, K., De Souza, J.M. and Esteves, M.G.P. (2012). CSCWD: Five characters in search of crowds, IEEE International Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work in Design (Wuhan, China).
Schryen, G. (2013). Revisiting IS business value research: What we already know, what we still need to know, and how we can get there, European Journal of Information Systems 22 (2): 139–169.
Seo, D. and Rietsema, A. (2010). A Way to Become Enterprise 2.0: Beyond Web 2.0 tools, in Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems (St. Louis, Missouri).
Simula, H. and Ahola, T. (2014). A Network Perspective on Idea and Innovation Crowdsourcing in Industrial Firms, Industrial Marketing Management 43 (3): 400–408.
Simula, H. and Vuori, M. (2012). Benefits and Barriers of Crowdsourcing in B2B Firms: Generating ideas with internal and external crowds, International Journal of Innovation Management 16 (6): 1–19.
Skopik, F., Schall, D. and Dustdar, S. (2012). Discovering and Managing Social Compositions in Collaborative Enterprise Crowdsourcing Systems, International Journal of Cooperative Information Systems 24 (4): 297–341.
Soukhoroukova, A. (2012). Sourcing, Filtering and Evaluating New Product Ideas: An empirical exploration of the performance of idea markets, Journal of Product Innovation Management 29 (1): 100–112.
Standing, C. and Kiniti, S. (2011). How Can Organizations Use Wikis for Innovation? Technovation 31 (7): 287–295.
Steinhueser, M., Hoppe, U. and Smolnik, S. (2011). Towards a Measurement Model of Corporate Social Software Success: Evidences from an exploratory multiple case study, in Proceedings of the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (Kauai, Hawaii).
Stieger, D., Matzler, K., Chatterjee, S. and Ladstaetter-Fussenegger, F. (2012). Democratizing Strategy: How crowdsourcing can be used for strategy dialogues, California Management Review 54 (4): 44–68.
Stocker, A., Richter, A., Hoefler, P. and Tochtermann, K. (2012). Exploring Appropriation of Enterprise Wikis, Computer Supported Cooperative Work 21 (2–3): 317–356.
Volkoff, O. and Strong, D.M. (2013). Critical Realism and Affordances: Theorizing IT-associated organizational change processes, MIS Quarterly 37 (3): 819–834.
Vukovic, M. (2009). Crowdsourcing for Enterprises, in Proceedings of the Congress on Services – I, Los Angeles, CA, pp. 686–692.
Vukovic, M., Giblin, C. and Rajagopal, S.K. (2012). Accelerating the Deployment of Security Service Infrastructure with Collective Intelligence and Analytics, in Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Services Computing (Shanghai, China).
Vukovic, M., Laredo, J., Ruan, Y., Hernandez, M. and Rajagopal, S. (2013). Assessing Service Deployment Readiness Using Enterprise Crowdsourcing, in Proceedings of the IFIP/IEEE International Symposium on Integrated Network Management (Ghent, Belgium).
Vukovic, M. and Naik, V.K. (2011). Managing Enterprise IT Systems Using Online Communities, in Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Services Computing (Hong Kong, China).
Vukovic, M. and Natarajan, A. (2013a). Enhancing Quality of IT Services Delivery Using Enterprise Crowdsourcing, International Journal of Cooperative Information Systems 22 (3): 1–21.
Vukovic, M. and Natarajan, A. (2013b). Operational Excellence in IT Services Using Enterprise Crowdsourcing, in Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Services Computing (Santa Clara, CA).
Vukovic, M. and Stewart, O. (2012). Collective Intelligence Applications in IT Services Business, in Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Services Computing (Honolulu, Hawaii).
Webster, J. and Watson, R.T. (2002). Analysing the Past to Prepare for the Future: Writing a literature review, MIS Quarterly 26 (2): xiii–xxiii.
Weinberg, B.D., Ruyter, K.d.e., Dellarocas, C., Buck, M. and Isobel Keeling, D. (2013). Destination Social Business: Exploring an organization’s journey with social media, collaborative community and expressive individuality, Journal of Interactive Marketing 27 (4): 299–310.
Westerski, A., Iglesias, C.A. and Nagle, T. (2011). The Road from Community Ideas to Organisational Innovation: A life cycle survey of idea management systems, International Journal of Web Based Communities 7 (4): 493–506.
Zhu, H., Djurjagina, K. and Leker, J. (2014). Innovative Behaviour Types and Their Influence on Individual Crowdsourcing Performances, International Journal of Innovation Management 18 (6): 1–18.
Zogaj, S. and Bretschneider, U. (2014). Analysing Governance Mechanisms for Crowdsourcing Information Systems: A multiple case analysis, in Proceedings of the European Conference on Information Systems (Tel Aviv, Israel).
Zogaj, S., Bretschneider, U. and Leimeister, J. M. (2014). Managing crowdsourced software testing: A case study based insight on the challenges of a crowdsourcing intermediary, Journal of Business Economics 84 (3): 375–405.
We thank the editors and reviewers for their time and work.
About this article
Cite this article
Zuchowski, O., Posegga, O., Schlagwein, D. et al. Internal crowdsourcing: conceptual framework, structured review, and research agenda. J Inf Technol 31, 166–184 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1057/jit.2016.14
- internal crowdsourcing
- enterprise crowdsourcing
- corporate crowdsourcing
- business crowdsourcing
- organisational crowdsourcing
- conceptual framework
- literature review
- research agenda