Helping Yourself or Others? Motivation Dynamics for High-Performing Volunteers in GLAM Crowdsourcing




Motivation, Crowdsourcing, Motivation dynamics, GLAM, Not-for-profit


While most crowdsourcing (CS) cases in the literature focus on commercial organisations, little is known about volunteers’ motivation of initial and continued participation in not-for-profit CS projects and importantly, about how the motivations may change over time. It is vital to understand motivation and motivational dynamics in a not-for-profit context because a fundamental challenge for not-for-profit CS initiations is to recruit and keep volunteers motivated without any formal contract or financial incentives. To tackle this challenge, we explore high performing volunteers’ initial motivation for joining and sustaining with a GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) CS project. We situated our interpretive exploration in a case study of the Australian Newspapers CS project initiated by the National Library of Australia. Based on the case study, we found that high-performing volunteers were motivated by a combination of personal, collective, and external factors classified into intrinsic, extrinsic, and internalised extrinsic motivations. Further, we found that these motivations changed over time. Specifically, many volunteers presented substantial personal (i.e., personal interest and fun) and community-centric motivations (i.e. altruism and non-profit cause) when they initially joined the project, whereas external motivations (i.e., recognition and rewards) had a greater impact on long-term participation. Our findings offer implications for CS system design (e.g., user profiles, tagging and commenting), incentive structure (e.g., reputation-based ranking, leader boards), and relational mechanisms (e.g., open communication channels) to stimulate sustainable contributions for not-for-profit CS initiatives.

Author Biographies

Sultana Lubna Alam, Deakin University

Dr Lubna Alam is an Associate Professor of Information Systems at the Deakin University Melbourne and a visiting fellow at the Research School of Management at the Australian National University. Central to her research is a focus on the nature of emerging, often disruptive, social information systems (e.g. social media, crowdsourcing, mobile apps) and their impact on individuals and organizations, with a particular focus on public sector and not-for-profits.  She was awarded her PhD in 2014. While her research has focused largely on crowdsourcing and social media in cultural heritage institutions and public sector, she has recently extended this work to consider how users interact and respond to social media settings (e.g. Facebook, gamification, Twitter), with a focus on vulnerable and minority communities (e.g. gamblers, job seekers) for social impact and wellbeing. Prior to joining Deakin University, Lubna was an Assistant Professor at the University of Canberra.

John Campbell, No affiliation

Prof John Campbell passed away in January 2019. Hence he has no affiliation.




How to Cite

Alam, S. L., Sun, R., & Campbell, J. (2020). Helping Yourself or Others? Motivation Dynamics for High-Performing Volunteers in GLAM Crowdsourcing . Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 24.



Research Articles