Crowdfunding cultural and commercial entrepreneurs: an empirical study on motivation in distinct backer communities

Tobias Bürger*, Simon Kleinert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Drawing on self-determination theory (SDT), this study examines differences in the motivation of backers to support cultural and commercial entrepreneurs through reward crowdfunding. We propose that backers of commercial campaigns are a community of early-customers motivated by the prospects of attractive product offerings, while backers of cultural projects constitute a distinct community motivated to support capital-constrained cultural entrepreneurs and connect with like-minded individuals. We use data from the largest German crowdfunding platform, Startnext, and analyze 2334 rewards from 225 cultural and commercial projects. Our results provide support for our hypotheses: Rewards involving price discounts matter particularly for backers of commercial projects and rewards that engage backers with their community matter more for cultural backers. Surprisingly, however, backers of cultural projects are not altruistic; they are no more likely than commercial backers to support campaigns selflessly in response to symbolic rewards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-683
Number of pages17
JournalSmall Business Economics
Issue number2
Early online date13 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

JEL classifications

  • g23 - "Pension Funds; Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors"
  • l26 - Entrepreneurship


  • Entrepreneurship
  • Arts
  • Cultural and creative industries
  • Crowdfunding
  • Backer community
  • Self-determination theory
  • Motivation
  • NEED


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