Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Crowd control: Organizing the crowd at Yelp
by Askay, David Andrew, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2013, 198; 3594049
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation investigates how businesses are able to align the collective actions of a disconnected crowd with the strategic goals of the organization. I examined this questions within the context of the business review website Yelp through a quantitative analysis of nearly 60,000 business reviews, 17 in-depth qualitative interviews with reviewers, and a two-year ethnography. Interpreting the results of this data within the framework of the collective action space (Bimber, Flanagin, & Stohl, 2012) indicates that Yelp is able to manage the contributions of a relatively small subset of reviewers through the Yelp Elite Squad. Rather than simply motivating more reviews, the Elite Squad encouraged reviewers to interact more personally with other reviewers and accept increased institutional engagement with Yelp. In encouraging members of the crowd to produce online reviews within this context, Yelp was able to use organizational culture as a control strategy for encouraging Elite reviewers to adopt a pre-mediated reviewing approach to their reviews. This increased the frequency of moderate reviews and decreased the frequency of extreme reviews. This behavior ultimately furthers the organizational goals of Yelp, as moderate reviews are considered to be more helpful for reviews of businesses. Finally, implications for crowdsourcing, big data analysis, and theory are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gossett, Loril
Commitee: Blanchard, Anita, Jiang, Min, Scott, Cliff
School: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Department: Organizational Science
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 75/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Management, Web Studies, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Bias, Collective action, Crowd, Crowdsourcing, Online reviews, Participation, Yelp Elite Squad
Publication Number: 3594049
ISBN: 978-1-303-37587-3
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