Incentives and Rewarding in Social Computing

Introduction. Incentives and rewards help align the interests of employees and organizations. They first appeared with the division of labor and have since followed the increasing complexity of human labor and organizations. As a single incentive measure always targets a specific behavior and sometimes additionally induces unwanted responses from workers, multiple incentives are usually combined to counteract the dysfunctional behavior and produce  desired results. Numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of different incentive mechanisms and their selective and motivational effects. Their importance is reflected in the fact that most big and mid-size companies employ some kind of incentive measures.

Expansion of social computing will include not only better exploitation of crowdsourcing but also solutions that extend traditional business processes; increasing research interest seems to confirm the trend. Several frameworks aiming to support such new collaboration models are being developed (such as socially enhanced computing). These new forms of social computing are intended to support greater task complexity, more intelligent task division, complex organizational and managerial structures for virtual teams, and virtual “careers.” With envisioned changes, incentives will also gain importance and complexity to address workers’ dysfunctional behavior. This new emphasis calls for automated ways of handling incentives and rewards. However, the social computing market is dominated by flat and short-lived organizational structures, employing a limited number of simple incentive mechanisms. That is why we view the state of the social computing market as an opportunity to add novel ways of handling incentives and rewards.

Here, we analyze incentive mechanisms and suggest how they can be used for next-generation social computing. We start with a classification of incentive mechanisms in the literature and in traditional business organizations, then identify elements that can be used as building blocks for any composite incentive mechanism and show the same elements are also used in social computing, even though the resulting schemes lack the complexity needed to support advanced business processes; we conclude with our vision
for future developments.


Citation: Ognjen Scekic, Hong-Linh Truong, Schahram Dustdar, “Incentives and Rewarding in Social Computing”, Communications of the ACM, Vol. 65, No. 6, pp. 72-82.


About P. Andreadis

Pre-Doctoral Research Assistant in AI and Social Computation @ University of Edinburgh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *