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How does crowdfunding work? Understanding the process through its activity

Stiver, Alexandra (2016). How does crowdfunding work? Understanding the process through its activity. PhD thesis. The Open University.

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Crowdfunding is a process featuring incremental financial donations from a ‘crowd’ of backers to help fund a project initiated by a creator. In recent years, crowdfunding has generated significant revenue as well as great interest from industry, government, and creative entrepreneurs. However, rate of successful funding for crowdfunding projects remains around 35% for global crowdfunding leader Kickstarter1, and lower yet for other platforms.

The identified gap between crowdfunding growth and crowdfunding success rates prompts the overarching question driving this thesis: how does crowdfunding work? This question is explored and answered through the lens of activity, as activity is largely observable, is featured in every project, and has some degree of control for creators. Activity was uncovered using semi-structured interviews, online observation, and daily monitoring of four crowdfunding projects from pre- to post-funding.

By cataloguing the specifics of crowdfunding activity, this thesis reveals the breadth of activity common to crowdfunding projects: financial, non-financial, online, and offline. Further, in mapping activity along a timeline, five distinct periods of crowdfunding activity are identified, each with specific aims. Additionally, the relationships guiding activity are assessed through discussion of community within crowdfunding, accentuating both emotional and behavioural investment in a project.

The resulting insights are summarised into two categories of contributions. The first is the consolidation of elements of importance to crowdfunding. By making implicit features of crowdfunding explicit, this adds precision to an understanding of the crowdfunding process. The second is the identification of underlying principles and essential steps to crowdfunding, which can be used by project creators to maximise success. This thesis provides a broader understanding of crowdfunding, emphasising the extent to which successful projects engage stakeholder communities with financial and non-financial activity and outcomes over time, as well as across various sites.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: 2016 The Author
Keywords: crowd funding; electronic fund raising; venture capital; online social networks; social media; investments; mass media
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Computing and Communications
Item ID: 47951
Depositing User: Alexandra Stiver
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2016 16:35
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2020 05:37
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