Methods of Building Sustainable Digital Communities and Co-Productivity from Crowdsourcing in the GLAM Sector

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The popularity of crowdsourcing in the GLAM sector has grown substantially since 2010 and it is remarked by researchers in the field such as Ridge (2015) and Dunn & Hedges (2017) that the communities built out of these crowds demonstrate a significant potential benefit to the sector. What is not known is the dynamics of these crowd-to-community transitions and how to sustain the development of these communities to better understand those potential benefits. This study addresses the primary question of what makes a GLAM crowd into a sustainable crowd community and secondarily how does that community benefit the relevant stakeholders involved. Using a grounded theory approach to qualitative data analysis, the author conducted a series of surveys and interviews with GLAM crowdsourcing project organizers and volunteers and additionally conducted field research creating a digital archive with volunteers in charge of the direction and process to be undertaken. By applying a Social Learning Theory lens to the relationships between stakeholders, this study concludes that the primary factors in community sustainability are a series of social pressures that rely on balancing power, control, and engagement between stakeholders. This study provides guidance on the impact of volunteer training, compensation, socialization, and engagement with new technology on creating a sense of empowerment among community members leading to more sustainable engagement. Further, this study also analyses the key role of community management for institutions and how they can foster that same sense of empowerment in order to build up more balanced and sustainable relationships between themselves and volunteers. These practices will help institutions to better understand sustainable communities and the benefits to institutional goals.
Date of Award1 Jun 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorStuart Dunn (Supervisor) & Mark Hedges (Supervisor)

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