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Prof. Dr.-Ing. Norbert Gronau

Funded by: Federal Minstery of Economic Affairs and Climate Action

Granted project volume: 163.460 €

Run-time: 01.06.2019 – 31.05.2021


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 and a flexible labour market. Crowdsourcing offers excellent potential as an alternative form of value creation due to the increasing digitalisation of work. However, holistic crowdsourcing requires more from companies than outsourcing individual tasks to online actors. Especially in the innovation process, it is recommended to open up the company's boundaries on different levels. Crowdsourcing platforms radically reshape the labour markets, as resource and know-how bottlenecks can be compensated for with an "on-demand workforce". An essential starting point is a workforce, which must be integrated into the value creation process and, above all, into the innovation process in a way appropriate to the situation, goal-oriented, efficient and effective. However, to date, there are no approaches for systematically integrating crowdsourcing into innovation processes to exploit its full potential.

Main research question:

Specifically, it will be investigated how crowdsourcing activities can be systematically integrated into the innovation processes of SMEs. We explore whether and in which way industrial innovations (e.g., Industry 4.0) condition new forms of crowdsourcing. The characteristics of processes and tasks are analysed, which are crucial for the efficient integration of crowdsourcing in corporate processes. Ways to integrate crowdsourcing platforms into existing project workflows and corporate structures are under scrutiny.

Research objective:

The research project's overall objective is to increase SMEs' agility and competitiveness by providing a procedure and an IT tool for the context-sensitive and efficient application of crowdsourcing.