OpenIDEO & Collaborative Crowdsourcing

We are all familiar with the saying “wisdom of a crowd”. Wisdom for what?

For years, I have been interested in evaluating the effectiveness of crowd collaboration. This obsession can go back to my days in gloomy and freezing Ottawa, Canada while I worked at an international aid agency to study ICT for development. 

A recent publication I have in this line of work will appear at Online Information Review, titled “Marginality and Team Building in Collaborative Crowdsourcing”. With data collected from a global crowdsourcing community (, I asked the question: what drives crowdsourcing participants to collectively contribute their knowledge so they can help solve the world’s most pressing social issues such as climate change, and health disparity, etc.

What I found was not very intuitive but if you place the finding in the context of creative activities, it kinda makes sense. I found that it is not really these individuals that are experts in winning crowdsourcing contests, or these that are very experienced in the OpenIDEO community that are more likely to be chosen as collaborators. People looked for marginality (measured as the degree of being located at the margin) so they could build a diverse team to compete in crowdsourcing. The rationale here is that marginal individuals can access different knowledge and perspectives, and they can probably think outside of the box! 

Several other papers from the OpenIDEO project are currently under review. For example, what projects are more likely to attract more contribution? Is it true that more diverse teams are more likely to win these contests? So stay tuned with more updates!


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