Keywords: crowdsourcing, knowledge, know-how, governance, transaction cost theory, evolutionary theories of the firm, inventive activities, innovation, legal protection, patents
Crowdsourcing of inventive activities: definition and limits
The purpose of this paper is twofold: First we define the concept of Crowdsourcing of Inventive Activities (CIA) and we emphasise its differences with the crowdsourcing of routine activities and the crowdsourcing of content. Then we stress the advantages and limits of CIA by using two complementary theories of the firm: Transaction cost theory and the evolutionary theory of the firm. Specifically, we show that CIA may emerge only if knowledge is sufficiently codified and if a legal protection is possible (e.g. via patents). This work therefore builds theoretical predictions that can be tested in further works. Beyond this analysis, our work underlines issues for the traditional theories of the firm that will have to be clarified: for instance, does the emergence of crowdsourcing lead to rethinking the reasons why firms exist and the definition of their boundaries?