Too much power?

How many times are you approached by peoples at the train station or at a restaurant with surveys asking on your opinion about the service and the company? Can you imagine that maybe in the future your answers to such surveys may influence the employees’ salary?

It’s so that HTM, the public transport company in The Hague region, has announced last week that they want to adapt their salary system such as that their customers (the travelers) could help on deciding the salary of the HTM employees. Their main idea is to empower the crowd in such an extent that the answers of the yearly “customer-satisfaction” survey (questions based on friendliness of employees, the vehicles, travel speeds etc.) will define the results: the quality of HTM’s customer service. This result will mean that for every 0.1 point increase on the customer satisfaction; will lead to a 0.2% salary increase. As for now the labor unions rejected HTM’s proposition, but they are open for negotiations.

As discussed during the lectures of customer centric and digital commerce, we can relate this kind of ideas to a huge amount of different reasoning. One of them could be the diversity trumps ability expressed on page 258 of (Majchrzak & Malhotra, 2013).  This means that a large diverse crowd of independent strangers may perform better on certain types of challenges than a small number of experts (Majchrzak & Malhotra, 2013). In addition, we can also relate it to the company goals which are for example, the relation to reduction in costs as mentioned by Fuchs & Schreier (2011).

Another nice practical example of where empowering might be going towards, is Incentro. Contrary to HTM who wants to empower their customers to some extent, gave Incentro their employees themselves the power to adapt their own wage.

This type of may be going to the direction of the name-your-own-price as expressed by Hinterhuber & Liozu, (2014). In this case I can name it: “Name-your-own-wage”.

Concluding, in the lecture about Crowdsourcing we discussed several risks and benefits for companies, employees and the customers when empowering the customer/ employees (the crowd). In addition to this last and to relate it to this post, I want to know from you, my readers: Do you think that organizations are giving the crowd too much power? Or do you think the crowd has the right to influence other decision than just the product design, aspects and applications? Would you fill in a survey on a different way when knowing that it may increase or decrease someone’s salary?


Fuchs, C., & Schreier, M. (2011). Customer empowerment in new product development. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(1), 17-32.

Hinterhuber, A., & Liozu, S. M. (2014). Is innovation in pricing your next source of competitive advantage? Business Horizons, 57(3), 413-423.

Majchrzak, A., & Malhotra, A. (2013). Towards an information systems perspective and research agenda on crowdsourcing for innovation. Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 22(4), 257-268.

Tsekouras, D. (2015). “Lecture 3:  Ideas & Design”, Consumer-Centric Digital Commerce, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 01-04-2015.

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