Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Sibin Wu

Second Advisor

Dr. Wanrong Hou

Third Advisor

Dr. Edward Levitas


Crowdfunding provides the opportunity for entrepreneurs to acquire capital for their projects by utilizing a platform that allows the masses to provide funds towards the completion of the project. Thus, it can be looked at as two sides of the same coin. On one side you have the entrepreneurs seeking the funds otherwise known as founders, and on the other are those that provide the funds also known as backers. The purpose of this study is to investigate what factors lead to founders successfully attaining their funding, what motivates backers to support the projects, and whether the founders can deliver post-funding.

Under the theoretical lens of signaling theory, the first study explores how founders manage the information asymmetry dynamic within crowdfunding and what factors are associated with acquiring the capital to successfully fund technology-based projects within reward-based crowdfunding. Specifically, I predict that the innovativeness of a project, the skills, abilities, honesty and kindness of founders, can positively affect crowdfunding achievement. I also hypothesize and test that positive emotional characteristics can strengthen the relationship between products usefulness and funding success. Data was collected from the crowdfunding platform to test the theory. The analyses show that specific individual skill (entrepreneurs’ industry experience) negatively influences their funding success, but entrepreneur’s personal characteristics (previous funding experience and frequent updates) are positively related to crowdfunding achievement. In addition, the level of education positively influences the relationship between innovation and funding success. The study suggests that social factors dominate crowdfunding more than economic soundness, however recent studies suggest a conflict. Moreover, there has been little to no research investigating what happens after crowdfunding achievement.

Building off of the first study, the second essay focuses on two areas, what motivates funders to give and do they know what they are doing. Specifically, I investigate which signals are most effective at identifying founders that deliver on their projects. I argue that three types of orientations are exhibited by backers as a result of the signals they prioritize. They include stakeholder, enthusiast, and advocate orientation. Backers that exhibit stakeholder orientation are more likely to support projects that the founders can execute post-funding in terms of delivery time and quality expectations, whereas those that display advocate orientation will support projects where they may never be executed by the founder. Enthusiast orientation is characteristic of backers that are focused on the innovativeness and usefulness of a product. Consequently, these products may be too difficult for founders to deliver on time or meet the quality expectations they set forth.

In order to test the hypotheses, I conduct a survey of backers, which provides the opportunity to shed light into an area that has been significantly neglected in crowdfunding research. Whether backers know how to select effective entrepreneurs.


Copyright 2020 Ruben Ceballos. All Rights Reserved.