Examining the role of narratives in civic crowdfunding: linguistic style and message substance

Chang Heon Lee, Yiyang Bian, Rajaa Karaouzene, Nasreen Suleiman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore how linguistic style and message substance influence persuasion in civic crowdfunding marketplaces in which written narrative pitch become a vital communication to attract private contributions to public goods and services. Drawing on the elaboration likelihood model (ELM), the authors operationalize the linguistic style of the narrative pitch as language power and message substance as issue-relevant argument quality. In this paper, the authors examine how characteristics of both style and message are related to the outcome of civic crowdfunded projects. Design/methodology/approach: The data on civic crowdfunding projects were retrieved from Spacehive, the platform that dedicated mainly to civic projects ranging from community programs, social-oriented enterprises, to infrastructure or facility development. Each of the narrative samples is analyzed using a computerized text analysis package called the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count to extract the features of the linguistic style and message substance in the narratives. The logistic regression models are estimated to assess the impact of both linguistic style and message substance on crowdfunding decisions. Findings: The results show that funding outcomes can be improved with psychological language dimensions (i.e. positive affective and perceptual language). However, extensive use of social language does not help project creators to increase their chance of funding performance; but instead, such language reduces the likelihood of project success. Additionally, message substance or issue-relevant information such as money and risk language influences funding outcome. Originality/value: Very few empirical studies investigated the differential effects of language style and message substance on funding performance of crowdfunding campaigns. The authors draw upon the dual process of persuasion as a theoretical base to identify a comprehensive set of linguistic style and message substance and to examine the role of such features in an emerging civic crowdfunding market. This study advances the application of the dual process in ELM by identifying and examining distinct persuasive cues originating from linguistics styles and message contents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1492-1514
Number of pages23
JournalIndustrial Management and Data Systems
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Sept 18 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Civic crowdfunding
  • Elaboration likelihood model
  • LIWC
  • Linguistic style
  • Persuasion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Industrial relations
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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