Research background

Business models and competition are subject to constant change. This requires SMEs to build increasingly flexible value chains and innovation processes based on small permanent staff as well as flexible labor markets. Crowdsourcing offers great potential here - as an alternative form of value creation - due to the increasing digitalization of work. However, holistic crowdsourcing requires companies to do more than just outsource individual tasks to online actors. Crowdsourcing platforms are radically reshaping labor markets by enabling an "on-demand workforce" to compensate for resource and know-how bottlenecks. A key starting point here is the workforce, which must be integrated into the value creation process and, above all, into the innovation process in a way that is appropriate to the situation, goal-oriented, efficient and effective. However, to date there are no approaches to systematically integrate crowdsourcing into innovation processes in order to exploit its full potential.

Research objective and research questions

The overall objective of the research project is to increase the agility and competitiveness of SMEs by providing a procedure and an IT tool for the context-sensitive efficient application of crowdsourcing. Specifically, it will be investigated how crowdsourcing activities can be systematically integrated into innovation processes of SMEs, whether and in which way industrial innovations (e.g. Industry 4.0) require new forms of crowdsourcing, which characteristics of processes and tasks are crucial for an efficient integration of crowdsourcing in corporate processes and in which way crowdsourcing platforms can be integrated into existing project workflows and corporate structures.

Benefits, innovation contribution and possible applications of the research project

The results of the research project will flow into the development of an IT tool that provides companies with a tool that centrally maps and manages all crowdsourcing activities on a suitable external platform. In addition, companies are given the opportunity to assign existing crowdsourcing platforms to their individual company- and context-specific challenges, to make a decision on their use, and to carry out the crowdsourcing process with software support. In order to ensure a high practical relevance of the project results, the processing of the individual work packages takes place in close cooperation with a working group consisting of SMEs from different industries that meets several times a year. The input of the companies is intended to expand the scientific view by the practical view.

Project partners, funding and data

The research project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), is being conducted by the Chair of Business Informatics, Processes and Systems at the University of Potsdam and the Chair of Strategy and Organization at the Technical University of Munich (TUM).
Duration: 2019 - 2021