The Effects of Relinquishing Control in Platform Ecosystems: Implications from a Policy Change on Kickstarter

Michael Wessel, Ferdinand Thies, Alexander Benlian

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Managing platform ecosystems requires the providers to maintain a delicate balance between retaining control and devolving autonomy to complementors in order to encourage contribution and innovation. In this study, we make use of a policy change that abolished the previously mandatory approval process for campaigns on Kickstarter, one of the dominant reward-based crowdfunding platforms. Analyzing a total of 67,384 Kickstarter campaigns under conditions of a natural experiment, we find that abolishing the input control was a double-edged sword for Kickstarter’s ecosystem: While the average platform revenue increased after the policy change, it became more volatile, and while project diversity increased, average campaign quality decreased. Project creators are now confronted with an even higher level of competition, while backers face greater uncertainties about campaign quality, which shifts their focus to alternative quality signals. The new strategy might threaten Kickstarter’s unique status as a high-quality platform in the striving business of crowdfunding.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Thirty Sixth International Conference on Information Systems. ICIS 2015 : Exploring the Information Frontier
EditorsTraci Carte, Armin Heinzl, Cathy Urquhart
Number of pages19
Place of PublicationAtlanta, GA
PublisherAssociation for Information Systems. AIS Electronic Library (AISeL)
Publication date2015
ISBN (Print)9780996683111
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event2015 International Conference on Information Systems: Exploring the Information Frontier, ICIS 2015: Exploring the Information Frontier - Fort Worth Convention Center, Fort Worth, Texas, United States
Duration: 13 Dec 201516 Dec 2015
Conference number: 36


Conference2015 International Conference on Information Systems: Exploring the Information Frontier, ICIS 2015
LocationFort Worth Convention Center
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityFort Worth, Texas
Internet address
SeriesProceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems


  • Crowdfunding
  • Platform ecosystems
  • Platform openness
  • Policy change
  • Input control
  • Two-sided markets
  • Natural experiment

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