Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Sibin Wu

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Welbourne

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael Minor


In this dissertation, I conduct three empirical studies exploring the relation between likability factors, crowdfunding characteristics and entrepreneurial performance. Together these studies integrate aspects of major entrepreneurial likability factors including liking of the entrepreneur (source attractiveness, credibility, personal traits) and liking of the message (verbal content and expression), and components of nonverbal and verbal cues. I apply computer-mediated communication (CMC) and persuasion theories, political and marketing literature to provide a more fine-grained understanding of likability on crowdfunding success. In the first essay, I study how the non-verbal cues of a crowdfunding video influence the crowdfunding success. By employing social presence theory, I argue, hypothesize and test that effective use of non-verbal cues in a pitch video increases funding success. In the second essay, I explore how verbal cues (readability and complexity) and non-verbal cues (smiling and professional attire) interact to influence crowdfunding outcome. Findings of this essay indicate that powerful persuasion results from both expression (verbal cues) and impression (non-verbal cues). The third essay examines the mediating effect of likability between nonverbal, verbal cues and crowdfunding success. According to the likability factors extracted from political and advertising campaign literature, I conclude five main dimensions of likability in crowdfunding context. The results show that message factors are more influential than source factors in affecting crowdfunding outcome. Findings of three essays show that entrepreneurs should be careful to deliver a message which is immediate, simple, informative, humorous, storytelling and less complimentary to their funders. The more their messages are liked, the more likely funders will back their projects, and then the more success their crowdfunding campaign will be.


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