Secret Admirers: An Empirical Examination of Information Hiding and Contribution Dynamics in Online Crowdfunding

Information Systems Research, Forthcoming

Fox School of Business Research Paper No. 16-018

45 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2016 Last revised: 16 Dec 2016

See all articles by Gordon Burtch

Gordon Burtch

Boston University - Questrom School of Business

Anindya Ghose

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business

Sunil Wattal

Temple University - Department of Management Information Systems

Date Written: April 19, 2016

Abstract

Individuals’ actions in online social contexts are growing increasingly visible and traceable. Many online platforms account for this by providing users with granular control over when and how their identity or actions are made visible to peers. However, little work has sought to understand the effect that a user’s decision to conceal information might have on observing peers, who are likely to refer to that information when deciding on their own actions. We leverage a unique impression-level dataset from one of the world's largest online crowdfunding platforms, where contributors are given the option to conceal their username or contribution amount from public display, with each transaction. We demonstrate that when campaign contributors elect to conceal information, it has a negative influence on subsequent visitors’ likelihood of conversion, as well as on their average contributions, conditional on conversion. Moreover, we argue that social norms are an important driver of information concealment, providing evidence of peer influence in the decision to conceal. We discuss the implications of our results for the provision of online information hiding mechanisms, as well as the design of crowdfunding platforms and electronic markets more generally.

Keywords: crowdfunding, social norms, information hiding, peer influence, anonymity

JEL Classification: R12, Z11, L17, G21, G24

Suggested Citation

Burtch, Gordon and Ghose, Anindya and Wattal, Sunil, Secret Admirers: An Empirical Examination of Information Hiding and Contribution Dynamics in Online Crowdfunding (April 19, 2016). Information Systems Research, Forthcoming, Fox School of Business Research Paper No. 16-018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2767276

Gordon Burtch (Contact Author)

Boston University - Questrom School of Business ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Anindya Ghose

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

Sunil Wattal

Temple University - Department of Management Information Systems ( email )

1810 N. 13th Street
Floor 2
Philadelphia, PA 19128
United States

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