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Nov 16, 2023
Abstract In a dynamic business environment, the roles of contests and crowd-sourcing are increasingly acknowledged. However, the factors driving sustained participation in these arenas remain incompletely understood. To address this gap, our study investigates the factors that influence the ongoing engagement intentions of users on contest collection portals. We focus on the interplay between goal-congruent outcomes (GCO), search intention, and various motivational elements. We collected responses from 291 individuals between March 18 and 27, 2022, and conducted an analysis based on partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM). Our analysis indicates that utilitarian motivation positively impacts both GCO and search intention. Career promotion specifically influences GCO, while rewards serve as key determinants of both GCO and search intention. Importantly, our findings underscore the role of GCO and search intention in shaping users’ intentions to continue participating. These insights offer significant implications for businesses and platform designers, emphasising the need to understand and cater to the diverse motivations of users to sustain their interest and engagement. Introduction Creative competitions have become an indispensable tool to harness innovative ideas and solutions in diverse domains (Araujo, 2013 ). The premise of a creative competition is to present a problem or challenge to a group of individuals or teams and invite them to submit their innovative solutions (Kim et al., 2018 ). The nature of the challenge can range from designing a new product to developing a novel business strategy or even solving complex engineering problems (Blair et al., 2019 ; Sarı et al., 2019 ; Springer and Miler, 2022 ). In recent years, crowd-sourcing and idea competitions have emerged as popular mechanisms for harnessing the collective intelligence and creativity of large groups of people (Buecheler et al., 2010 ). Crowdsourcing refers to the process of outsourcing tasks or problems to a large, undefined group of people, typically through an online platform or community (Digout et al., 2013 ), while idea competitions focus on soliciting novel and innovative ideas or solutions from participants (Piller and Walcher, 2006 ). Both crowd-sourcing and idea competitions offer several potential benefits, such as cost savings, speed, diversity of perspectives, and access to specialised knowledge and skills (Brabham et al., 2014 ; Hammon and Hippner, 2012 ). Although these platforms have become increasingly popular, understanding what motivates participants to continue participating is paramount for their sustainability and effectiveness. The determinants of continuance intention, especially in such collaborative, competitive settings, remain relatively underexplored. In particular, while initial participation might be driven by myriad reasons, such as curiosity or tangible rewards, the factors that ensure sustained engagement are less straightforward and merit deeper scrutiny. In crowd-sourcing environments, participants often align their personal goals with the broader goals of the platform or competition. When individuals perceive that their contributions lead to outcomes congruent with their personal and the platform’s objectives, it bolsters their satisfaction and commitment, making them more likely to continue participating (Locke and Latham, 2002 ). Therefore, the alignment of personal goals with platform outcomes emerges as a critical mediator in understanding the intention of continuance. In addition, crowd-sourcing platforms and idea competitions are dynamic ecosystems where participants continually seek feedback, new challenges, and learning opportunities (Cricelli et al., 2022 ). Their intention to search and explore within the platform, driven by intrinsic or extrinsic motivational factors, can significantly influence their decision to stay engaged. If participants find value in their explorations and searches, they are more inclined to remain active contributors. Utilitarian motivation is rooted in the functional benefits and pragmatic value an individual derives from an activity (Babin et al., 1994 ). In the context of crowd-sourcing, participants driven by utilitarian motives actively engage with the platform to achieve specific, goal-orientated outcomes, such as problem solving or idea validation (Hossain, 2012 ). This is directly aligned with the concept of goal-congruent outcomes (GCOs), as these participants aim for tangible results that resonate with their personal objectives. The desire to produce unique and novel ideas is intrinsically linked with the nature of idea competitions and crowdsourcing platforms (Renard and Davis, 2019 ). Individuals motivated by originality seek to differentiate their contributions and establish their innovative prowess (Amabile, 1983 ). This originality-seeking behaviour also fuels their search intention, as they continually search for fresh insights, feedback, and avenues to refine their unique propositions, thus impacting their continued intention. For many participants, crowd-sourcing platforms offer avenues for professional growth and visibility (Chris Zhao and Zhu, 2014 ). Engaging in these platforms can enhance one’s professional stature, network, and even lead to job opportunities (Ebner et al., 2009 ; Taylor and Joshi, 2019 ). This career-orientated motivation is strongly tied to both GCO (as participants strive for achievements that boost their professional credentials) and continuance intention (given the long-term career benefits of sustained participation). Tangible rewards, be they monetary incentives, recognition, or other rewards, are powerful extrinsic motivators in the realm of crowdsourcing (Brabham, 2008 ; Huang et al., 2020 ). They not only incentivise participation but can also shape participants’ goal congruence and search intentions. The lure of rewards can make participants more aligned with platform objectives and more proactive in their search behaviours, ultimately influencing their decision to continue participating. The study of motivational factors in crowdsourcing environments has received significant attention in the recent academic literature. In particular, numerous works have made strides in elucidating individual motivational determinants that influence participation in such platforms (De Coninck et al., 2023 ; Hsieh et al., 2022 ; Sajid et al., 2022 ; Shi et al., 2022a ; Zhu et al., 2019 ). These contributions, while valuable, often dive into specific factors without encompassing the broader spectrum of motivation in crowd-sourcing environments. A noticeable gap emerges when we examine the literature collectively. In detail, Hsieh et al. ( 2022 ) only considered community recognition and personal award experience to explain continued participation in idea contests. These factors could not fully cover the intrinsic aspects of crowd-sourcing, such as the novelty of the topic. Shi et al. ( 2022b ) introduced intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation as explanatory variables to describe the act of participating in crowd-sourcing. However, they omitted elements such as the intermediary search process or personal objectives. De Coninck et al. ( 2023 ) focused on strategic motivations and cost considerations to explain the adoption of crowdsourcing in the public sector. Their approach emphasised the organisational perspective over the individual one. While we gain insight into isolated motivational drivers, a comprehensive understanding that seamlessly integrates these factors within a singular framework is lacking. It is this void our study seeks to address, especially focussing on the journey that a participant undertakes, from the spark of initial motivation to the prolonged continuance intention. Furthermore, an aspect that has received limited attention in the existing discourse is the complicated relationship between goal-congruence and search intention. Both elements are critical in shaping a participant’s experience and subsequent decisions in crowd-sourcing contexts. Yet, their interplay and, more crucially, how they collaboratively influence sustained participation, remain an undercharted domain. Our research aims to delve into this intricate dynamic, shedding light on how these factors intertwine and determine the longevity of participation in crowd-sourcing platforms. Thus, this paper aims to address this gap by providing a comprehensive review of the literature on crowd-sourcing and idea competitions, with a focus on the following research question. What are the factors that influence GCO, search intention, and continuation intention? This study stands out as a novel contribution to the existing literature for several reasons. First, while much of the current research has concentrated on participants from specific contests (Faullant et al., 2017 ; Hober et al., 2021 ; Renard and Davis, 2019 ), our investigation broadens this scope. By surveying and analysing responses from participants on various leading crowd-sourcing sites in South Korea, we have been able to derive more comprehensive insights. This empirical approach not only deepens the understanding of the phenomenon, but also anchors our findings in a concrete cultural and economic context, thus adding to the academic literature. Furthermore, instead of narrowing down our focus to users from a single competition, we delved into users from contest collection portals, which gives our research a panoramic view of behaviours and intentions spanning a diverse group of participants. Such a broad-based approach ensures that our findings are not confined or biased by the dynamics of a single competition. Second, by unveiling the concept of GCO, our study pushes the boundaries of our understanding of the many goals that drive participants. Recognising motivations ranging from skill enhancement, point accumulation, to career progression, our study paints a rich tapestry of the varying aspirations of participants, offering insights that are more nuanced than the conventional or aggregated narratives. Additionally, this research introduces determinants that resonate with the concept of GCO, a move that has yet to be seen in the existing literature. By factoring in motivations such as utilitarian benefits, the lure of novelty, prospects of career growth, and the allure of rewards, we manage to bridge the perceived disconnect between participants’ goals and their on-ground behaviours. This comprehensive framework offers a detailed exploration of what motivates individuals to participate in contests. Lastly, our study takes a unique turn by factoring in the’search intention’ into our analytical framework. As earlier studies focused predominantly on specific contest participants, they often sidelined the exploratory tendencies of users (Shi et al., 2022b ; Ullah et al., 2021 ; Wang and Wang, 2019 ). On the contrary, our research, with its emphasis on contest portals, makes it paramount to understand and dive deep into these exploratory behaviours. Such an approach yields invaluable insights on how participants engage and navigate these platforms, adding another layer to our understanding of their behaviours and motivations. In our comprehensive study of user intentions and behaviours on competition platforms, we discovered pivotal insights: utilitarian motivation significantly and positively influenced both GCO and search intention, reflecting users’ functional drivers. Career advancement aspirations positively impacted GCO, highlighting platforms as potential avenues for professional growth. Although tangible rewards stood out as key determinants for both GCO and search intent, originality surprisingly did not manifest as a significant influencer for any of the criteria. Furthermore, both GCO and search intent emerged as dominant influencers of continuance intent, indicating an evolving dynamic of user engagement. However, in a departure from common patterns, demographic elements such as gender and age showed minimal impact on the intention of continuing, suggesting a broader and more universal appeal of these competition platforms. The rest of this article is organised in the following manner. The following section provides a summary of previous research related to idea contests and crowd-sourcing. Section 3 describes the research model and its corresponding hypotheses. Section 4 details the measurement items and the process of collecting data. The results of the measurement model and the structural model are presented in Section 5. In Section 6, the findings of this study are discussed and compared with previous research. Section 7 contains contributions to theory and practice. Lastly, Section 8 describes the limitations of this research. Theoretical background Crowdsourcing and idea competitions have garnered considerable attention in recent years as innovative strategies for problem-solving (Chen et al., 2022 ; Puccio et al., 2020 ; Vermicelli et al., 2021 ). Crowdsourcing offers organisations a means to harness the collective intelligence and creativity of the public, thus addressing intricate challenges and sparking novel ideas (Brabham et al., 2014 ). Recently, a multitude of studies have explored different aspects of crowd-sourcing contests, encompassing areas such as motivation, participation, and performance (Chawla et al., 2019 ; Jin et al., 2021 ; Segev, 2020 ). This literature review endeavors to furnish a comprehensive overview of contemporary research pertaining to crowdsourcing contestants. The underpinning theory of crowdsourcing posits its potency in generating groundbreaking ideas and resolving multifaceted issues (Boudreau and Lakhani, 2013 ; Howe, 2008 ). It affords organisations access to an expansive reservoir of resources, mitigates the financial and risk factors inherent in innovation, and accelerates the innovation trajectory (Palacios et al., 2016 ). Furthermore, evidence from the scholarly literature indicates that crowd-sourcing exceeds conventional methods in efficacy. This is largely attributed to its ability to channel the cumulative knowledge, expertise, and inventiveness of a vast and varied populace (Boudreau and Lakhani, 2013 ). Motivation theory underscores the pivotal role of individual motivation in determining participation in crowdsourcing initiatives and idea competitions (Deci and Ryan, 1985 ). A significant portion of the research literature zeros in on motivation, recognising that comprehending the driving forces behind participation is instrumental for the successful execution of crowdsourcing endeavours (Chris Zhao and Zhu, 2014 ; Vu et al., 2022 ; Zheng et al., 2011 ). Within the purview of crowdsourcing and idea competitions, participants’ motivations can spring from diverse sources. These range from a yearning for acknowledgement, an inherent personal interest in the subject, to seizing opportunities for skill acquisition and enhancement (Barnes et al., 2015 ; Franke and Shah, 2003 ; Helm et al., 2013 ). Delineating further, motivation theory posits that individuals’ motivations can be broadly categorised into two realms: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation emanates from an individual’s inner drive to participate in an activity purely for the pleasure and fulfilment it offers. Factors like enjoyment and personal contentment have been shown to profoundly influence both the quality and volume of contributions in crowd-sourcing endeavours (Nysveen et al., 2005 ). For example, individuals often engage in activities that align with their personal hobbies or interests, driven by intrinsic motivation (Franke and Shah, 2003 ). Likewise, the allure of acquiring and developing new skills serves as an intrinsic motivator for many (Von Hippel and Von Krogh, 2016 ). Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, stems from the desire to attain external rewards, such as monetary gains or public recognition (Ryan and Deci, 2000 ). Factors including monetary incentives (Acar, 2018 ; Ihl et al., 2019 ) and opportunities for career progression opportunities (Brabham, 2012 ) have been identified as potent motivators influencing participation and performance in crowd-sourcing contests. Tangible rewards, such as financial compensation, play a central role in driving participation in crowdsourcing and idea competitions (Giovanis et al., 2019 ; Hwang and Choi, 2020 ). Many participants are lured by the prospect of winning prize money or securing additional perks, such as bonuses or career advancement. Yet, it is worth noting that the potency of extrinsic motivators can be contingent on individual predilections and the specific context (Gerber et al., 2012 ; Turner, 2017 ). Recent studies have delved into the impact of feedback and collaboration on crowd-sourcing contests. Feedback, especially from peers and industry experts, has consistently demonstrated its potential to improve submission quality and promote learning among entrants (Bayus, 2013 ). Additionally, collaborative strategies, such as team-based competitions, tend to produce superior results, due to the amalgamation of varied viewpoints and specialised expertise (Lifshitz-Assaf, 2018 ). Competition dynamics and its influence on contestant behaviour have also been a focal point of research. Evidence suggests that the vigour of competition can enhance the quality of contributions, with contestants driven by a desire to eclipse their counterparts (Girotra et al., 2010 ). Yet, there is a caveat: overly intense competition can sometimes backfire, resulting in diminished participation and inferior quality of submissions (Boudreau et al., 2011 ). The literature has also extensively examined how individual attributes and competencies can shape the success trajectories of participants in crowd-sourcing contests. Research indicates that attributes like individual expertise, creativity, and skill sets tend to enhance a contestant’s performance (Boudreau et al., 2011 ; Madhavan and Grover, 1998 ). In particular, participants coming from diverse experiential backgrounds are often seen to infuse a richer variety of ideas, thus elevating the quality of the results (Jeppesen and Lakhani, 2010 ). The design intricacies and overarching structure of crowd-sourcing contests have similarly garnered attention. Scholarly work underscores the need for contests to have lucid problem definitions, transparent evaluation benchmarks, and fitting incentives, all aiming to captivate and sustain participants (Bullinger and Moeslein, 2010 ). Nuances such as contest duration, entry deadlines, and the tally of declared winners also emerge as determinants influencing submission quality and volume (Korpeoglu et al., 2021 ). Further, past investigations propose that an individual’s choice to participate in crowd-sourcing or idea contests might hinge on diverse factors. These encompass the perceived utility of the platform, the extent of social engagement and team endeavours, the competitive atmosphere, perceived fairness, and the contest’s duration (Blohm et al., 2011 ; Nambisan and Baron, 2007 ; Von Hippel and Von Krogh, 2016 ). In summary, recent literature on crowd-sourcing contestants encompasses a myriad of facets, from motivation, individual attributes, and skill sets, to the nuances of competition, feedback mechanisms, collaboration, and contest blueprinting. This research delves into the determinants that influence the sustained engagement of contestants on competition platforms by weaving insights from previous studies. It underscores the utility motivation as an intrinsic impetus and introduces the concept of originality, a dynamic that straddles both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Furthermore, the study accentuates external catalysts such as career advancement and rewards, which have previously been identified as cardinal drivers driving participation in idea contests (Li and Hu, 2017 ; Maugeri et al., 2020 ; Wang et al., 2019 ). Research model Figure 1 presents the comprehensive analytical framework that guides this research. In this framework, we hypothesise that factors such as utilitarian motivation, a sense of originality, aspirations for career promotion, and potential rewards exert influence on the intention of continuing. This influence is hypothesised to be mediated by two primary variables: GCO and search intention. Fig. 1: Research model. This figure presents the overarching framework of our study, showcasing the relationships between the constructs and their potential interactions. The selection of our independent variables was a deliberate decision grounded in the prior literature, theoretical frameworks, and empirical observations. Our review of the literature confirmed the importance of these variables within the realm of competition platforms. For example, utilitarian motivation is recognised for its influence on users seeking tangible benefits, such as knowledge enhancement (Hossain, 2012 ; Wu and Gong, 2021 ). Originality encapsulates intrinsic motivations, highlighting the sheer joy of participation, while career promotion is indicative of extrinsic motivations, which target tangible outcomes such as promotions (Ebner et al., 2009 ; Taylor and Joshi, 2019 ). Utilitarian motivation, the pursuit of novelty, career aspirations, and rewards consistently emerged as the main determinants in our preliminary research. In summary, although various factors might influence user behaviours, our selected variables, anchored in literature, theoretical insights, and empirical findings, provide a comprehensive and theoretically robust framework for our study. Utilitarian motivation Utilitarian motivation is rational and goal-orientated (Batra and Ahtola, 1991 ; Hirschman and Holbrook, 1982 ). It embodies the belief that effort invested in a task will yield a satisfactory outcome, such as financial gain, recognition, or access to resources (Khan et al., 2005 ). This motivation can improve performance by increasing participation (Salehan et al., 2017 ). Participants with a high degree of utilitarian motivation are likely to achieve results that align with their participation objectives. Moreover, they can delve into the contest to secure the desired outcome. Drawing from the theory of reasoned action, individual behaviours are typically propelled by intentions, which are in turn shaped by attitudes towards said behaviour (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975 ). Consequently, if idea competition participants have strong utilitarian motivations and view the contests as a pathway to attain utilitarian outcomes, their inclination towards continued participation is expected to be positive. Based on this, the study hypothesises that: H1a. Utilitarian motivation has a positive effect on GCO. H1b. Utilitarian motivation has a positive effect on search intention. H1c. Utilitarian motivation has a positive effect on continuance intention. Originality Originality is defined by the uniqueness and rarity of an idea in relation to others (Mayseless et al., 2015 ). A natural inclination towards novelty drives individuals to seek exploration and innovation (Berlyne, 1966 ). Observations show that fresher, more novel ideas tend to yield higher performance (Girotra et al., 2010 ). The encounter of an original concept often ignites the desire in participants to conceive even more unique ideas (Wang et al., 2018 ). Furthermore, the originality of an idea significantly increases its quality (Wang et al., 2018 ; Zhao et al., 2016 ). Given the participant’s objective to generate new ideas, the novelty of contest ideas can lead to more successful outcomes aligned with their goals. Rooted in the cognitive evaluation theory, the intrinsic value or inherent interest of an endeavour propels motivation, highlighting originality as a crucial intrinsic driver (Ryan and Deci, 2000 ). The expectancy theory further posits that people are motivated by the anticipation that their efforts will produce desired results. Within idea competitions, the captivating nature of originality moulds this anticipation, affecting participants’ intent to delve deeper (Vroom, 1964 ). Consequently, they are driven to participate in a broader range of contests. Therefore, this paper posits that: H2a. Originality has a positive effect on GCO. H2b.Originality has a positive effect on the search intention. H2c. Originality has a positive effect on continuance intention. Career promotion Career promotion is often recognised as a key differentiator in recruitment processes or as a valuable step in career advancement. As a dimension of external motivation, career promotion is known to boost participation in crowdsourcing contests (Chris Zhao and Zhu, 2014 ). In fact, participants frequently participate in idea competitions with the intent of increasing their career trajectories (Zhang et al., 2021 ). Those who have a higher eagerness for career progression tend to invest more in terms of engagement efforts (Chris Zhao and Zhu, 2014 ). With the belief that success in these contests can substantially benefit their careers, participants strive to deliver superior results. Being aware of the prestige and acknowledgement associated with victory or mere participation in these contests, individuals are often spurred to explore more of such opportunities, thus augmenting their professional visibility (Greenhaus et al., 2009 ). Additionally, as per the expectancy-value theory, the importance an individual assigns to a particular outcome, like career progression in this context, can shape their intent to undertake activities that lead to that very outcome (Wigfield and Eccles, 2000 ). Consequently, this study posits that: H3a. Career promotion has a positive effect on GCO. H3b. Career promotion has a positive effect on search intention. H3c. Career promotion has a positive effect on continuation intention. Rewards Rewards are acknowledged as pivotal determinants influencing behaviour in multiple studies (Giovanis et al., 2019 ; Hwang and Choi, 2020 ; Walter and Back, 2011 ). The allure of monetary incentives, in particular, has been cited as a significant factor bolstering the intrinsic motivation of crowds to engage (Maugeri et al., 2020 ). Such incentives not only attract participation (Antikainen and Vaataja, 2010 ) but also act as compensation for the effort and time invested by participants (Chiu et al., 2006 ). Empirical studies suggest a positive association between task rewards and the volume of submissions (Li and Hu, 2017 ), with evidence that monetary rewards can increase the number of ideas generated in online contests (Walter and Back, 2011 ). Extending this logic, monetary incentives have been identified as catalysts enhancing creativity and engagement, especially in scenarios where participants perceive a tangible benefit from their contribution (Ryan and Deci, 2000 ). In specialised domains like crowdsourcing and idea competitions, rewards promise to steer participants toward generating ideas that resonate more with the competition’s aims, ensuring a synergy between individual contributions and the envisioned outcomes (Mikelsone et al., 2022 ). This alignment becomes more pronounced as the perceived magnitude of the rewards increases. As participants recognise more lucrative rewards, their propensity to explore intensifies and their sustained engagement grows. Based on these observations, this article posits the following. H4a. Rewards have a positive effect on GCO. H4b. Rewards have a positive effect on search intention. H4c. Rewards have a positive effect on continuance intention. GCO GCO denotes the extent to which the outcomes of participating in an idea competition align with the participants’ initial intentions (Seo and Ray, 2019 ). The alignment of personal outcome expectations with participation directly influences both the frequency and duration of participation (Shi et al., 2022b ). When participants observe results that resonate with their objectives, their desire to participate in subsequent contests intensifies. Consequently, this research posits the following hypothesis. H5. GCO has a positive impact on continuance intention. Search intention Individuals inclined to participate in a contest often gather information through various channels (Ghezzi et al., 2018 ). This investigation focusses on individuals who accessed the contest’s on-line portal. A heightened intention to explore suggests a correspondingly strong intention to participate. On this premise, the study proposes the following. H6. Search intention has a positive impact on continuance intention. In studies encompassing competition and crowd-sourcing, demographic characteristics such as gender and age are frequently integrated as control variables (Chandler and Kapelner, 2013 ; Kosonen et al., 2013 ; Zhu et al., 2019 ; Zhu et al., 2021 ). Within the scope of this research, gender and age serve as control variables, helping to evaluate the impact of the explanatory variables described. Research methodology Measurements To ensure that the questionnaire was suitable for the crowdsourcing context, the measurement items were slightly modified. Table A1 delineates a comprehensive breakdown of the constructs and the corresponding elements with their sources. Under the utilitarian motivation construct, three items are identified, all of which focus on the practical application of idea contests, sourced from Salehan et al. ( 2017 ). The originality construct, drawn from Dean et al. ( 2006 ), emphasises the novelty and innovation associated with contest themes and subjects. Career promotion items, credited to Wook and Jongho ( 2018 ), underscore the value of contests in professional advancement, while the rewards category, sourced from Walter and Back ( 2011 ), highlights the financial appeal of contests. The GCO construct from Seo and Ray ( 2019 ) speaks to the efficiency and benefits reaped from contest participation. Finally, constructs of search intention and continuance intention from Ajzen ( 1991 ) capture the propensity to explore and continue engagement with contests, respectively. The author initially developed the questionnaire in English and a bilingual researcher with experience in social sciences translated it into Korean. The same researcher then backtranslated the Korean version into English and the author compared and reconciled any minor discrepancies between the two English versions. Before administering the survey, two researchers with experience in social science and quantitative studies reviewed the questionnaire elements to ensure their validity and reliability. A pilot survey was conducted with a group of volunteers to gather feedback and assess the clarity and relevance of the questions. This feedback was taken into account when finalising the questionnaire. The final questionnaire employed a seven-point Likert scale to measure all indicators. Sample This study utilised a cross-sectional survey-based methodology conducted on several crowd-sourcing portal sites in South Korea. Specifically, the survey was administered to visitors to the ideas contest portals including all-con.co.kr, thinkyou.co.kr, and allforyoung.com from March 18 to 27th 2022. Representatives from each portal were cooperative as they understood the potential practical implications of identifying key determinants of idea competitions through this survey. When visiting these websites, a pop-up appeared that presents the survey. Visitors were directed to a link to the survey after reading a brief description in the pop-up. The survey’s introductory page detailed the study objectives and the intent for academic publication. Participation was carried out only after obtaining informed consent from visitors. To ensure attention and overcome the potential pitfalls of online surveys, reverse coding techniques and attention checks were embedded. Additionally, respondents were required to complete each mandatory survey item before advancing to the subsequent page. As an appreciation gesture, a subset of participants were offered a small token through a lottery system. After the removal of unauthentic responses (e.g., uniform responses or unnecessary variances within a scale), 291 responses were retained for analysis. To determine the appropriate sample size for this study, we used the a-priori sample size calculator specifically designed for the structural equation model (SEM) (Soper, 2023 ). Several parameters were set for this calculation: an anticipated effect size of 0.1, a desired statistical power level of 0.8, a count of 7 latent variables, 19 observed variables, and a probability level set at 0.05. Based on these inputs, the calculator indicated that the minimum sample size required for the proposed model structure was 247. It should be noted that our study sample size surpassed this requirement, further ensuring the robustness of our analytical approach. Table 1 presents the demographic profile of the respondents in the study, with a total sample size of 291. In terms of gender distribution, females constituted the majority with 67.4% (196 respondents), while males represented 32.6% (95 respondents). The age bracket of the respondents was diverse, with the majority (56.7% or 165 respondents) falling within the 20-29 age range. Respondents in their 30 s represented 20.6%, those in their 40 s made up 13.7%, and a small percentage was below 20 (5.1%) or above 50 (3.7%). The table further breaks down the professional status of the participants. University students made up the most substantial segment at 45.7% (133 respondents), followed by office workers at 25.8% (75 respondents). Other categories included high school students or less, job seekers, teachers or professors, freelancers, and a miscellaneous “other” category, accounting for the remaining distribution. Table 1 Profile of the respondents. Research results This research used the partial least squares (PLS) method with SmartPLS to analyse the theoretical framework. PLS was chosen due to its robustness and ability to handle complex predictive models, as well as its flexibility with sample size and data distribution (Falk and Miller, 1992 ). The analysis process involved two stages: evaluating the reliability and validity of the measurement model and evaluating the structural model. Common method bias In this research, measures were taken to examine the possible implications of common method bias. First, using the one-factor test approach, it was observed that a singular factor accounted for 34.174% of the overall variance, well below the 50% critical mark, indicating that CMV is unlikely to distort our findings (Podsakoff et al., 2003 ). In addition, the variance inflation factor (VIF) values of our constructs support this argument. As depicted in the provided table, all VIF measures remain well below the widely accepted cut-off of 5.0, suggesting the absence of multicollinearity issues (Hair et al., 2017 ). These analyses provide confidence in the resilience of our model to potential bias threats. Measurement model To assess reliability, convergent validity, and discriminant validity, this work used confirmatory factor analysis. Composite reliability (CR) and Cronbach’s alpha were used to evaluate scale reliability. The results for both the CR and the Cronbach alpha were greater than 0.7, indicating good reliability. Convergent validity was assessed using an average variance extracted (AVE) and item loadings. It was satisfied since AVEs were higher than 0.50 and item loadings were higher than 0.70 (Hair et al., 2006 ). Table 2 shows the test results for the reliability and validity of the measurement model. Table 2 Factor analysis and reliability. Endogeneity Endogeneity is a concern in SEM as it can lead to biased estimations and misinterpretations of relationships among constructs. Endogeneity arises when there are omitted variables, measurement errors, or when a reciprocal causality exists between the independent and dependent variables (Antonakis et al., 2010 ). In this study, to address potential endogeneity concerns, we employed the Gaussian copula approach in PLS-SEM using SmartPLS 4 (Hult et al., 2018 ; Joe, 2014 ). This approach aids in establishing a nonlinear dependence structure between endogenous and exogenous variables, allowing for a more refined understanding of their relationships. Table A2 shows that Gaussian copulas were not statistically significant in any model configurations (p value > 0.05). All the variables integrated into the estimation framework were identified as exogenous, indicating that they were not associated with the error term in the modelled equations. Hence, it is evident that our dataset and model are free from endogeneity issues, further reinforcing the integrity of the structural model (Hult et al., 2018 ). Discussion Based on the results, this study delves into the intricate dynamics of the factors influencing the intention of continuance among crowd-sourcing participants. The results provide a comprehensive understanding of the various factors that influence GCO. The strongest determinant of GCO, as evidenced by the data, is utilitarian motivation with a coefficient of 0.308. A t-value of 4.647, which is significant at the 0.000 level, further strengthens this argument, confirming the findings of previous results. This suggests that when users perceive a direct, tangible benefit from the system, they are more likely to continue using it. In essence, the primary motivators for users are the practical advantages they gain from it. This finding aligns with previous literature that asserts that pragmatic benefits users derive from a system play a critical role in increasing their performance (Salehan et al., 2017 ). While previous research has indicated that greater originality is associated with improved performance (Girotra et al., 2010 ) or quality of ideas (Wang et al., 2018 ; Zhao et al., 2016 ), it is noteworthy that originality does not appear to have a significant influence on GCO, as evidenced by its coefficient of 0.029 and a p-value of 0.638. This suggests that while original content or unique features might be a positive attribute, they are not primary drivers for users’ continued engagement. It is possible that users prioritise functional benefits over novelty when deciding on continued usage. Career promotion has a moderate, but significant, influence on GCO with a coefficient of 0.158 and a p-value of 0.025. This maintains the idea that users are inclined to engage with platforms that offer potential professional advancement. Platforms that offer opportunities for career growth or skill enhancement could thus observe sustained user engagement, reflecting the modern-day emphasis on professional development (Deci et al., 2001 ). Lastly, the influence of rewards on GCO is evident, but slightly less than career promotion, with a coefficient of 0.135 and a p-value of 0.037. Rewards, in the form of tangible incentives or recognition, can serve as extrinsic motivators that prompt continued use. However, their influence, though significant, is not as paramount as utilitarian benefits, suggesting that users prioritise intrinsic benefits over extrinsic rewards. In summary, while all factors have their role in influencing GCO, utilitarian motivation stands out as the most crucial determinant. The lack of significance for originality highlights the need for systems to focus more on tangible benefits and features that directly cater to users’ intrinsic motivations, professional growth aspirations, and tangible rewards. The following presents the results and a discussion of the factors influencing search intention. The empirical results suggest that utilitarian motivation remains a dominant factor in influencing Search intention, registering a coefficient of 0.27. With a T-value of 3.28 and significance at the 0.001 level, it is clear that users’ pragmatic and functional benefits derived from a system positively influence their intention to search. Users tend to search more when they believe that the system or platform provides them with tangible benefits or meets their practical needs. This finding resonates with the established notion that users are driven by utilitarian aspects when they perceive them as beneficial (Babin et al., 1994 ; Cricelli et al., 2022 ). On the contrary, originality shows a weak link to the search intention. Its coefficient of 0.048, coupled with a p-value of 0.469, suggests that while unique features or content might be appreciated, they are not significant drivers of users’ intention to search. Users may be neutral about the novelty of content when it comes to their search intentions, highlighting the importance of functionality over originality. Surprisingly, career promotion has a slightly negative coefficient (-0.043) with search intention, though it is not statistically significant (p value = 0.51). It implies that platforms focussing on career growth or skill enhancement might not directly influence users’ intention to search. The lack of a significant correlation between career promotion and search intention contradicts previous research findings (Greenhaus et al., 2009 ), which suggested that individuals are less likely to seek out new opportunities when they anticipate career promotions. This could be because users might approach these platforms with specific goals in mind rather than broad search behaviours. Rewards show a positive influence on search intention, albeit not as strong as utilitarian motivation. With a coefficient of 0.127 and a p-value of 0.047, it suggests that tangible incentives or recognition can encourage users to search more within a system. The prospect of gaining rewards might act as a motivator, enhancing their search behaviours. In summary, among the factors considered, utilitarian motivation emerges as the predominant driver of search intention. Although rewards also play a role, the impact of originality and career promotion appears to be minimal. It highlights the importance of providing tangible, functional benefits to users, reinforcing their search intentions on platforms. The following are results and discussion on factors that influence search intentions. Contrary to expectations, utilitarian motivation shows a negligible link with continuance intention, recording a coefficient of merely 0.005 and a high p value of 0.932. This suggests that the practical benefits a user derives from a platform might not be the primary reason for their continued engagement. This is intriguing, as it contradicts the widely accepted idea that utility often drives long-term platform commitment (Kim and Malhotra, 2005 ; Zheng et al., 2011 ). Contrary to the findings of Solidoro et al. ( 2021 ), originality demonstrates a minor influence on continuance intention with a coefficient of 0.07. Despite its moderate T-value of 1.585, the association is not statistically significant, reflecting a p value of 0.113. This asserts the idea that while originality might attract users initially, it may not be the driving force behind their sustained commitment. Career Promotion, somewhat unexpectedly, shows a slight negative association with continuance intention (coefficient of -0.036). However, with a p-value of 0.449, this negative association is statistically insignificant. Several researchers have highlighted that individuals participate in crowdsourcing as a means of advancing their professional careers (Chris Zhao and Zhu, 2014 ; Zhang et al., 2021 ). The discrepancy might arise because platforms that emphasise career advancement do not necessarily ensure prolonged user engagement. This could be due to evolving career priorities over time. The influence of rewards on continuance intention is observed to be minimal, as indicated by a coefficient of 0.06 and a p-value of 0.191. While rewards might momentarily captivate users, they don’t seem to be compelling enough to ensure long-term engagement. In congruence with previous research (Shi et al., 2022b ), GCO demonstrates a substantial impact on continuance intention. With a strong coefficient of 0.258 and a significant t-value of 4.749, it establishes that a user’s general inclination towards continuous engagement is a robust predictor for their ongoing commitment to a platform. In particular, the search intention emerges as a predominant factor influencing the continuance intention. The coefficient of 0.622, coupled with an impressive T-value of 12.498, underlines the fact that the user’s intention to search within a system significantly bolsters their intention to continue using the platform in the long run. In summary, while individual motivations like utilitarian benefits, originality, career growth, and rewards might not directly ensure continued platform engagement, overarching factors such as GCO and search intention play a pivotal role. This suggests that while immediate gratifications are appreciated, users’ inherent behaviours and inclinations largely shape their enduring commitment to a platform. Analysing the control variables provides an opportunity to examine the peripheral factors that might influence the intention of continuing. Gender, as a determinant, appears to have a minor influence on the intention to continue, as evidenced by a coefficient of 0.048. However, with a T-value of 0.569 and a p-value of 0.570, this influence is not statistically significant. This observation implies that gender differences might not play a decisive role in determining a user’s intention to continue using a platform. Age displays an even smaller impact on continuance intention with a coefficient of 0.003. The low t-value of 0.078 and a high p-value of 0.938 further stress its lack of statistical significance. This suggests that age might not be a key factor in determining the ongoing engagement with a platform. In essence, both gender and age, as control variables, do not appear to significantly sway the continuation intention. This reinforces the idea that when considering ongoing engagement with platforms, individual intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, along with their general behavioural patterns, might be more influential than demographic characteristics. Conclusion Theoretical implications This paper contributes to academic discourse in several meaningful ways. Firstly, while a myriad of studies have delved into the intricacies of crowdsourcing and idea competition dynamics, our research highlights the salient roles of GCO, search intent, and motivational factors in shaping continuance intention. Among this vast corpus of studies, a significant number have been preoccupied with identifying the immediate impulses that compel individuals to engage in crowdsourcing activities (Hsieh et al., 2022 ; Lalicic and Dickinger, 2019 ; Solidoro et al., 2021 ). However, where our research notably distinguishes itself is in its exploration of the more intricate dimensions of these dynamics. We emphasise the critical roles of GCO, search intention, and various motivational factors as they coalesce to influence the continuation intention. Rather than simply recognising the existence of these factors, our study delves into subtle interactions and interdependencies, particularly spotlighting GCO as a potent mediating factor. This provides a granular understanding, suggesting that GCO does not just coexist amidst other variables but holds a commanding position, significantly swaying the participant’s decision-making trajectory. Second, our research not only validates but also enriches the existing literature, underscoring the significance of utilitarian motivations. Research suggests that these motivations propel individuals toward competitive engagements, primarily lured by perceived benefits (Bakici, 2020 ; Suhada et al., 2021 ; Zheng et al., 2011 ). Building upon this foundational perspective, we discovered that utilitarian motivations do not merely incite engagement; they steer participants towards GCO and amplify their search intentions. Furthermore, while the concept of rewards has been explored in previous studies (Bullinger et al., 2010 ; Schuhmacher and Kuester, 2012 ; Walter and Back, 2011 ), our research offers a refreshed and deeper insight. Within idea competitions, we argue that rewards serve a purpose beyond mere tangible benefits. They emerge as crucial symbols of recognition, offering participants a sense of validation for their efforts and innovation. This recognition extends beyond material gains and is emblematic of participants’ contributions to the domain. Given these insights, we encourage researchers and scholars to broaden their investigative lens. Future studies might delve deeper into the multifaceted nature of rewards, exploring their psychological and emotional ramifications beyond the material. Third, our work dives deeper, spotlighting the integral role of search intentions in this domain. Rather than viewing search intention as a mere exploratory manoeuvre by users, our findings reposition it as a potent predictor of continuance intention. This revelation has profound implications for how we decode user behaviour on crowd-sourcing platforms. It suggests that searches, exploration, and discovery acts could be primary catalysts that drive users to persist and continue to engage. These behaviours, often overlooked or undervalued in traditional user retention models, emerge as critical engagement determinants in our research. Given these insights, we recommend that scholars realign their research focus. A more sophisticated exploration into why users search, what they seek, and how these searches shape their subsequent behaviours can unravel intricate behavioural patterns. Such an in-depth inquiry could pave the way for more customised user experience strategies on crowd-sourcing platforms, ensuring sustained and meaningful user engagement. Lastly, our research, while deepening the understanding of extant constructs, beckons scholars to delve further into the interplay of these variables in varied contexts. There is a potential goldmine of insights in juxtaposing our findings with different cultural or sectoral settings. Additionally, the verified role of GCO hints at the great potential for studies focused solely on goal congruence in competitive scenarios. We posit that as crowdsourcing and idea competitions burgeon, a deeper understanding of these constructs will be instrumental for academia, providing a robust framework for future investigations. Practical implications The current study offers several actionable insights for policymakers, idea-seeking companies, participants, and the broader ecosystem of crowdsourcing and idea competitions. First, our research emphasises the pivotal role of GCO in influencing the continued intention among participants in crowd-sourcing or idea contests. Policymakers who want to cultivate a vibrant, innovative environment should consider aligning incentives and rewards with the diverse objectives of participants. For example, if a city council wishes to crowdsource ideas for urban renewal, they might structure rewards to cater to various motivations: monetary prizes for competitive spirits, public recognition for those seeking career advancement, and opportunities for collaboration for those driven by community-building. Such multitiered incentives can ensure sustained engagement from a broader cross-section of potential contributors. Second, companies seeking innovative ideas can harness the power of utilitarian motivations by creating platforms that offer tangible and intangible benefits to participants. Understanding that rewards are not merely financial but also markers of recognition can be game-changing. For example, a tech company seeking software optimisation ideas could provide winning participants not just with cash prizes but also with opportunities to intern or attend international tech conferences. Additionally, to stimulate search intention, platforms can consider tailoring content that aligns with users’ utilitarian goals, promoting competitions or resources that specifically cater to skill development or career progression. Finally, clear communication about tangible outcomes and benefits of participation can further drive user engagement. Putting these aspects into context can enhance user satisfaction and prolong active participation on the platform. Such gestures not only incentivise participation, but also position the company as an industry leader valuing innovation and contributor growth. Third, the pronounced influence of career promotion on continuance intention via GCO underscores the necessity for competition platforms to intertwine with participants’ professional aspirations. To boost engagement, the platforms should emphasise career-enhancing rewards, such as internships, mentorship sessions with industry stalwarts, or job opportunities. Facilitating a space for participants to exhibit their skills and achievements can further tie their professional image to the platform. Introducing networking events, hosting insightful webinars on industry trends, and providing constructive feedback mechanisms can serve dual purposes: nurturing skill development and magnifying the platform’s role in participants’ career trajectories. By strategically weaving these elements into platform policies and features, competition organisers can foster deeper, sustained engagement from users driven by professional advancement. Third, the observed impact of rewards on continuance intention, mediated through GCO and search intention, offers valuable insight for policymakers. Recognising the inherent value that participants place on rewards, policymakers should curate and diversify reward structures to cater to a wider spectrum of participants. For GCO-driven individuals, rewards could be structured around the achievement of personal goals and milestones, ensuring a direct alignment between their goals and the incentives provided. For those influenced by the search intention, implementing dynamic reward mechanisms that encourage exploration and discovery within the platform would be vital. For instance, a tiered reward system that provides greater incentives as users delve deeper into the platform content can stimulate consistent engagement. Furthermore, policymakers should consider integrating feedback loops that allow users to voice their preferences about rewards. This not only personalises the user experience but also ensures that reward systems remain adaptive and relevant, fostering a sense of valued participation and, consequently, promoting long-term engagement with the platform. Fourth, our findings serve as a beacon for potential participants, highlighting the nuances of navigating crowd-sourcing platforms. Recognising the importance of search intention, participants can strategically expand their exploration, tapping into a wider range of opportunities. As our study suggests, such active exploration is strongly correlated with continued engagement. Thus, for an individual looking to carve a niche in design, for instance, exploring diverse design contests, not just the high-profile ones, could pave the way for unexpected growth and opportunity. Finally, beyond the immediate stakeholders, our research has ramifications for the broader crowdsourcing ecosystem. Platforms hosting idea competitions may consider improving their user experience, making the exploration of diverse opportunities more intuitive and rewarding. A platform could employ AI-driven recommendation engines, suggesting contests based on a user’s profile and past participations. Similarly, educational institutions that prepare students for the modern competitive landscape can integrate modules on strategic participation in crowd-sourcing efforts, arming them with the insights and tools to thrive in this burgeoning domain. Limitation and further research Every research effort inevitably has limitations, and ours is no different. To begin with, we utilised a cross-sectional research design, restricting our ability to draw causal relationships. Future research might benefit from longitudinal studies to deeper investigate the evolution of GCO and related motivational factors. Additionally, even though our sample size was considerable, it predominantly represents a specific demographic, potentially not encapsulating the diverse perspectives of the broader population. An inherent limitation in our study is the potential for sample selection bias. Those who opted out of participation might have different views or attitudes than respondents, leading to potential variances in the relationships we explored, particularly between GCO and the intention of continuing. As a result, extrapolating our findings to wider populations should be approached with caution. Furthermore, our study leaned predominantly on quantitative methods. Incorporating qualitative techniques, such as interviews or focus groups, might reveal more in-depth insights into crowdsourcing participants’ motivations and actions. As we look to the horizon, researchers are encouraged to examine the impact of cultural differences on motivational elements and continuing intentions. Understanding how distinct cultural or industrial settings shape these dynamics can prove invaluable. Additionally, the interplay of emerging technologies such as AI and blockchain on user behaviour in crowdsourcing warrants exploration. Broadening the investigation to include multiple platforms or cross-platform analyses could provide a more holistic understanding of the subject matter. Data availability The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. References Acar OA (2018) Harnessing the creative potential of consumers: Money, participation, and creativity in idea crowdsourcing. Marketing Letters 29(2):177–188 Araujo, R (2013). 99designs: An analysis of creative competition in crowdsourced design. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing Babin BJ, Darden WR, Griffin M (1994) Work and/or fun: measuring hedonic and utilitarian shopping value. Journal of Consumer Research 20(4):644–656 Buecheler, T, Sieg, JH, Füchslin, RM, & Pfeifer, R (2010). Crowdsourcing, open innovation and collective intelligence in the scientific method: a research agenda and operational framework. The 12th International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems, Odense, Denmark, 19-23 August 2010 Bullinger, AC, & Moeslein, K (2010). Innovation contests–where are we? Bullinger AC, Neyer AK, Rass M, Moeslein KM (2010) Community-based innovation contests: Where competition meets cooperation. Creativity and Innovation Management 19(3):290–303 Chen, Q, Magnusson, M, & Björk, J (2022). Exploring the effects of problem-and solution-related knowledge sharing in internal crowdsourcing. Journal of Knowledge Management (ahead-of-print) Chiu C-M, Hsu M-H, Wang ET (2006) Understanding knowledge sharing in virtual communities: An integration of social capital and social cognitive theories. Decision Support Systems 42(3):1872–1888 Rights and permissions Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ .
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