At #IndustryStudies2011, Natalia Levina of NYU and I hosted a session Thursday entitled “Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing.” My talk was the open innovation, while the others provided empirical data about crowdsourcing.
I gave the Industry Studies Conference audience the Chesbrough (2006) and other definitions of open innovation, while (thanks to Natalia) I used the Howe (2006) definition of crowdsourcing. After summarizing an in-progress paper co-authored with Marcel Bogers, I transitioned to crowdsourcing by summarizing the archetypes Natalia presented last year at AOM.
Jan Marco Leimeister presented his study of crowd-sourced innovations in SAPiens. He presented his study of various instruments for evaluating the quality of crowdsourced ideas, ruling out the simplest approaches (thumbs up) and most complex approaches, in favor of a typology based on the work of Teresa Amabile. (His findings were immediately adopted by SAP).
Next up, Nikolay Archak of NYU talked about his life with TopCoder — first as a top coder, and now as a Ph.D. student studying the website and its contests. Although I’ve heard Nikolay talk about TopCoder before, one thing I didn’t know was that the site originally started as an online community — with the contests as a way to evaluate community members — and it was only later that firms began to use it to produce real software.
Finally, Natalia summarized her own work on what she terms “open innovation intermediaries,” and specifically her study of InnoCentive with various co-authors (including Anne-Laure Fayard and Karim Lakhani). After noting a theoretical debt to the work of Andrew Hargadon and his book How Breakthroughs Happen, she noted that the intermediaries offer a relatively low cost solution (compared to professional consultants) for firms facing an unsolved problem.
Natalia also noted that InnoCentive is moving beyond merely running contests to wrapping the contests with consulting services. This seems like a natural progression — ala IBM’s move from mainframes to IBM Global Services — and one that someone should have come up with years ago.