Open Access

How to Prevent Crowdsourcing Disasters and Leverage Positive Side Effects of Open Innovation


The gains from crowdsourcing can be high, but so can the risks. Contests may become a nightmare for the sponsoring organization if the innovators do not behave as planned. When contest managers act in undesirable ways from a participant’s perspective, community members might bash, shame or ridicule a company. To prevent “firestorms” – negative, often highly emotional posts in social media that are eagerly taken over by traditional media – project sponsors need to ensure fairness throughout the contest. The value of the price and the procedures for selecting winners must be fair and transparent – and companies need to stick to predefined rules. Organizations that succeed in keeping their community motivated might not only benefit from new ideas, but also from additional positive effects. Devoting time, skills and personal engagement to developing new ideas for a company favors intense relationships, and participants often become passionate brand followers. By communicating openly about their approach of open innovation, companies can also foster their innovative image.