The wisdom or madness of crowds? Kickstarter vs. the National Endowment for the Arts

May 15, 2015

Advanced Learning

Harvard Business School’s study (HBS), ‘Wisdom or Madness? Comparing Crowds with Expert Evaluation in Funding the Arts’, brings us to a recurrent question of particular value in the fields of business and innovation: Who is wiser and performs better in decision-making – crowds or experts?

HBS Associate Professor Ramana Nanda and Ethan Mollick of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School authored this paper. They wanted to discover ‘whether experts or crowdsourcing make better funding choices when it comes to backing proposed theatre shows’, HBS reports.

So, they compared the choices made by art-loving masses on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter with evaluations by authorities in the field – represented by the independent U.S. federal agency National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) established in 1966.

Agree to disagree
Kickstarter already raises more money each year for art projects than NEA. The site has gathered a total of $1.5 billion for over 80,000 art projects since its founding in 2009. In this sense, ‘crowdfunding has enabled a democratisation of access [to funding],’ the paper’s authors explain.

But what exactly did the crowd like that the experts didn’t and vice-versa? Find out here.

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