Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 40 Number 2 2023 pp. 624-654

Deep Learning-Based Imputation Method to Enhance Crowdsourced Data on Online Business Directory Platforms for Improved Services

Xu, Da, Hu, Paul Jen-Hwa, and Fang, Xiao


Popular online business directory (OBD) platforms, such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, depend on voluntarily user-submitted data about various businesses to assist consumers in finding appropriate options for transactions. Yet the crowdsourced nature of such data restricts the availability of attribute values for many businesses on the platform. Crowdsourced data often suffer serious completeness and timeliness constraints, with negative implications for key stakeholders such as users, businesses, and the platform. We thus develop a novel, deep learning–based imputation method, premised in institutional theory, to estimate missing attribute values of individual businesses on an OBD platform. The proposed method leverages a deep model architecture and considers both inter-business and inter-attribute relationships for imputations. An application to a Yelp data set reveals our method’s greater imputation effectiveness relative to prevalent methods. To illustrate the method’s practical utilities and values, we further examine the efficacy of business recommendations empowered by its imputed business attribute values, in comparison with those enabled by data imputed by benchmark methods. The results affirm that the proposed method substantially outperforms benchmarks for imputing missing attribute values and empowers more effective business recommendations. This study addresses crucial, prominent completeness and timeliness constraints in crowdsourced data on OBD platforms and offers insights for downstream applications that can improve user experiences, firm performance, and platform services.

Key words and phrases: Crowdsourced data, missing value imputation, deep learning, online business directory