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Could crowdsourcing negatively impact corporate social responsibility?

Agus Echague

More and more corporate initiatives are giving consumers a chance to help direct where a company gives. But this might make consumers less likely to give and companies less likely to make an impact. Apparently choice reduces impact, causes paralysis, leads to more regret and lowers perceived value (I strongly recommend you read the full article!).
What are your thoughts? Do you think crowdsourcing charity/ social impact could have a negative influence in CSR?

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  • rcorke

    I read the original article a few weeks ago after seeing a Tweet about it, and I believe that most of its examples are poorly designed crowdsourcing, so I don't agree with the title (which was picked to get people to read, of course). Well designed crowdsourcing would have a benefit.

  • Juan Mario Inca

    Really interesting Agus, thanks​!​

    I think that you would be really interested in some recent research that I have come across explaining crowds and citizen science.​ ​In particular I feel you may find these two emerging pieces of research very relevant:

    - The Theory of Crowd Capital

    - The Contours of Crowd Capability

    Powerful stuff, no?

    • Agus Echague

      This is GOLD Juan! Thanks for sharing!
      I'll have a read and maybe we can discuss later! :)

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    I think crowdsourcing can help launch a CSR in the right direction. Interesting though how they focus on choice. What if companies only chose between up to 10 projects let's say- instead of thousands?

    • Agus Echague

      I agree there are benefits! But I thought this article's POV was a super interesting one.
      The focus on choice is what makes it stand out me thinks. In the end, choice is one of the main drivers on decision making. The question you raise is interesting, because what's "too much" and what's "too little" choice right?

      • Alessandra Rizzotti

        Exactly- I do think that more choices do limit people in a way- bec it's overwhelming and people don't like sifting through stuff. But- highlighting companies in crowdsourcing is actually a really great way to connect them.

        • Agus Echague

          Aha! Let's see.
          Don't get me wrong: I think that crowdsourcing is GREAT. I'm a HUGE fan. But maybe what the article is trying to say is that it might not be the BEST avenue every time, particularly in this case.
          I'm a big advocate of CSR. Also, I'm a marketeer, so I'm a big advocate of consistency. Therefore, for the company, wouldn't it be better to pick charities that are aligned to their values?
          I feel that sometimes giving the choice to pick the charity is like saying "yeah, whatever, we are in the CSR boat but we don't really care... so pick".
          I find it's WAY more powerful when there's a direct connection with the brand. Because its customers will relate MORE with the cause. And because it says "we give a damn, and it's obvious why".
          Now, going back to your original point, if they chose XX charities that were ALIGNED with their corporate values... that maybe could work? Yes, possibly! I doubt though there would (should) be more than a handful.
          On your second comment, when you say crowdsourcing is a great way to connect them... who is 'them'? In any case, maybe there should be 2 different actions for 2 different objectives don't you think? (obj#1 being CSR, obj#2 being connection).
          FOOD FOR THOUGHT! ;)

          • Alessandra Rizzotti

            Oh most definitely the charities should be aligned with the brand! Totally! I'm just thinking of crowdsourcing votes from fans of the brand for charities that brand chooses!