Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 37 Number 1 2020 pp. 66-95

The Nature of Crowd Work and its Effects on Individuals’ Work Perception

Durward, David, Blohm, Ivo, and Leimeister, Jan Marco


Crowd work reflects a new form of gainful employment on the Internet. We study how the nature of the tasks being performed and financial compensation jointly shape work perceptions of crowd workers in order to better understand the changing modes and patterns of digital work. Surveying individuals on 23 German crowd working platforms, this work is the first to add a multi-platform perspective on perceived working conditions in crowd work. We show that crowd workers need rather high levels of financial compensation before task characteristics become relevant for shaping favorable perceptions of working conditions. We explain these results by considering financial compensation as an informational cue indicating the appreciation of working effort that is internalized by well-paid crowd workers. Resulting boundary conditions for task design are discussed. These results help us understand when and under what conditions crowd work can be regarded as a fulfilling type of employment in highly developed countries.

Key words and phrases: Crowd work, crowdsourcing, online compensation, online tasks, online employment, task design, self-determination theory, paid crowd work