March 12, 2010

Who claims crowdsourcing?

Today I gave a progress report on my O/U/CI research with Marcel Bogers to my colleagues at the SJSU College of Business. The nominal reason was to prove that I deserved a summer support grant last summer (which we call the Lucas Fellowship after our donor), but it was also a way to try out some ideas for a paper that is in draft form but not at a journal.

At some point — perhaps after the paper is posted to SSRN or under review at a journal — I’ll share some of the ideas from the paper, but right now I’m more like a superstitious doctoral student (rather than a tenured full professor) in not wanting to circulate it prematurely.

However, a couple of slides won’t be ending up in the paper so I thought I’d share them. One is slide was an update of the citation counts of O/U/CI research from last November:
Another slide went back to my observation (which we should have mentioned in West & Gallagher 2006) that inbound open innovation — particularly from individuals — looks a lot like lead users/firms utilizing user innovation. It extends my earlier interest in how to study crowd sourcing, as well as my interest in both monetary and non-monetary incentives for individuals to supply external innovations.

So this was my O/U/CI slide comparing two ways how to think about crowd sourcing:
  • UI model
    • Users have sticky knowledge
    • Apply knowledge to solve own problems
    • Make it easy to obtain free revealing
  • OI model:
    • Users/non-users have knowledge
    • Maximize return from that knowledge
    • Use markets to identify, source ideas
My point is that OI covers almost any type of external innovation, but usually emphasizes monetary incentives — West & Gallagher 2006 being a notable exception. Meanwhile, user innovation is supposed to be about “users,” but a lot of crowd sourcing (or “wisdom of crowds”) utilizes individual knowledge not directly related to personal use.

I won’t claim the slide is profound, but under deadline to make my presentation, felt I got a clearer perspective than any previous attempt to explain why I thought both models were applicable here.

Of course, it’s easy to make a PPT deck and hard to do a quality empirical study. Lars Bo Jeppesen and Karim Lakhani have a forthcoming empirical paper in Organization Science, “Marginality and Problem-Solving Effectiveness in Broadcast Search.” The paper is more about problem-solving and search than about OI and UI, but it mentions both Chesbrough and von Hippel in passing.

Oddly, my friends Jeppesen & Lakhani give a prominent role to problem-solving contests, but don’t mention Suzanne Scotchmer’s 370 page book, Innovation and Incentives, about contests and other alternatives to the patent system. Maybe we need Prof Scotchmer to come speak to UOI 2010.

No comments: