Governing crowd-based initiatives
Citizens are organising themselves to take over tasks from government and industry in an increasing number of sectors. Crowd-based initiatives must be organised properly for these innovations to be socially responsible.
The aim of this project is to get a better understanding of how crowd-based innovations (CBIs) can be properly organised. The research will result in a framework for governing socially responsible CBIs and for specific governance interventions for a number of specific CBIs.
Citizens jointly buying wind turbines, citizens offering transport services, home exchange through Airbnb, water treatment in a community garden – these are all examples of CBI’s. Often these innovations are made possible by technical developments, particularly in the field of IT. CBIs may relate to crowdsourcing (where citizens are called upon to collect data), crowdfunding as an innovative business model, open platforms (where supply and demand meet) and also the “sharing economy”.
Opportunities and questions
These kinds of initiatives provide many opportunities for innovation – and could therefore address major societal challenges – but they also raise societal questions. How should the public sector respond to such shifts of public tasks and services to citizens’ collectives? What forms of regulation should the public sector adopt? How can the public sector ensure that important ethical and societal values are safeguarded if some of its roles are taken over by citizens? Could this lead to inequalities between different population groups?
Research into these questions will give us a better understanding of the forms of regulation, cooperation and supervision required for responsible CBIs. This knowledge can be translated into governance arrangements, such as new types of supervision, rules and structures for incentives.
The second research phase will focus on ‘living labs’, in which the research team will design, test and improve interventions for CBIs. The researchers have a background in innovation and political science, ethics, law, civil engineering and IT, and they will be looking at various CBIs in the logistics, energy and water sectors. These CBIs are selected in consultation with the project partners. Examples of cases are: citizens using apps to measure water temperature; citizens investing in ownership of the electricity grid; blockchain technology to enable local transactions without the need of banks; community drinking-water purification; zero-waste school projects; crowd-based on-demand logistics, and the introduction of light-electric vehicles in city logistics.
crowd-based innovation, governanceOfficial project title: