Essays on reward-based crowdfunding : a consumer-centered approach

Reward-based crowdfunding has gained tremendous popularity and its economic impact has been remarkable. Since the founding of KICKSTARTER, one of the most successful crowdfunding platforms worldwide, about 16 million individuals have contributed to the realization of more than 160,000 projects launched through the platform, pledging a total sum of 4 billion US$(Kickstarter 2019). Some of the most popular products on Kickstarter like the “COOLEST COOLER” or the “PEBBLE” smartwatch were pre-purchased for 13 million US\$ before they became a reality. Despite its success and increasing popularity, scholarly knowledge about reward-based crowdfunding is still in its early stages. This is particularly applicable when it comes to research that aims at understanding the phenomenon from a consumer-centered perspective. Prior research about reward-based crowdfunding has predominantly focused on the link between campaign-level characteristics and funding success, such as e.g. the effects of signals of project quality and founder credibility (Courtney, Dutta, & Li 2017; Mollick 2014), funding status (Kuppuswamy & Bayus 2017), communication content and linguistic style (Anglin et al. 2018a; Parhankangas & Renko 2017; Anglin et al. 2018b; Allison et al. 2017), and the innovativeness and creativity of the proposed outcome (Parhankangas & Renko 2017; Davis et al. 2017). Another stream of research has examined the effects of individual-level characteristics of the entrepreneur in the form of internal social capital (Colombo, Franzoni, & Rossi-Lamastra 2015; Skirnevskiy, Bendig, & Brettel 2017), signals of perceived entrepreneurial competence (Scheaf et al. 2018; Frydrych et al. 2014), and entrepreneurial passion (Davis et al. 2017; Oo et al. 2018). This dissertation addresses this gap in the nascent crowdfunding literature and examines the reward-based crowdfunding phenomenon from a consumer-centered perspective. Specifically, the effects of three important idiosyncrasies of reward-based crowdfunding, temporal distance, hypotheticality and information asymmetries, are investigated. Research paper I investigates the impact of temporal distance and hypotheticality on potential funders’ mental representations of products that are proposed via reward-based crowdfunding. Research paper II examines the effects of different types of mental simulation (outcome-focused vs. process-focused) on potential supporters uncertainties when making pre-purchase decision in a reward-based crowdfunding context. Research paper III investigates how potential supporters use personal information about the entrepreneur as a basis for naïve theories to assess their prospects of actually receiving the proposed outcome of a reward-based crowdfunding campaign. The findings of this dissertation are of relevance for the arising crowdfunding literature and practice alike. Managerial and theoretical contributions are discussed on a comprehensive level as well as in the individual research papers.