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Title: The dynamics of innovation contests using firm-hosted communities
Author: Langner, Benedikt Fabian
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 4038
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Firms pursuing an open innovation strategy have increasingly turned to individuals as sources of new ideas. Two main approaches are often highlighted. First, firms can use online innovation contests, where individuals submit ideas in competition for a prize. Second, firms can use firm-hosted online communities, drawing from collaborative efforts of individuals with more intrinsic motivations to participate. A central challenge in both cases is that firms often struggle to sustain participation and effort of participants on an on-going basis. A third hybrid approach, where firms establish community-based innovation contests, has been largely ignored by research, but seems to help firms to engage participants on an on-going basis. This study focuses on community-based innovation contests to understand how firms engage communities to participate in contest over time. I conducted fieldwork at two firms that have successfully run them for many years, Chicago-based T-Shirt firm Threadless and Phoenix-based automotive firm Local Motors. Over ninety interviews with firm employees and community members, over six months of on-site observation at the two firms’ headquarters as well as internal documents and blog data have been collected and analysed. Based on this data the core of the thesis consists of three empirical chapters that examine how firms are able to engage the communities to participate in their contests on a regular basis. First, it shows that the addition of a community to contests increases contestants’ opportunities to learn. In experiential learning, contests provide experience whereas the community provides room for reflection and learning. These learning opportunities motivate contestants to come back and create contest entries on an on-going basis. Secondly, taking a social identity perspective, the research shows how the firms are able to engage the community members continuously by creating a joint firm-community identity. Lastly, it explains how these firms are able to influence community members’ perception of the tasks they are doing through the contest design. Firms are able to turn activities that have been traditionally regarded as work into a recreational activity.
Supervisor: Seidel, Victor Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Business and Management ; Management ; Organisational behaviour ; online community ; innovation contests ; crowdsourcing