The creativity of the crowd

How should organisations design their innovation contests so that they win with online communities?

The internet has opened up a tantalising opportunity for organisations to crowdsource creativity from online communities. Yet, the competitions open to participants are increasing, and any ‘cognitive surplus’ they possess is a scarce though highly valuable resource. How then should organisations design these competitions so that they win with talented solvers?

Marian Garcia puts forward a new theoretical model for innovation contests that stresses the mediating role of engagement in unleashing creativity. The model is tested using a survey of Kaggle, an online community for big data scientists. The results suggest that competition participants who are emotionally and cognitively engaged are indeed more likely to be creative. Moreover, by providing autonomy, task variety, feedback and problem solving in their innovation contests, organisations could increase this engagement. These findings point the way towards compelling competitions that can enable organisations to be more innovative.

Garcia Martinez, M. 2015. Solver engagement in knowledge sharing in crowdsourcing communities: Exploring the link to creativity. Research Policy, 44(8), 1419-1430. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2015.05.010.

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