Which effort pays off? Analyzing ideators’ behavioral patterns on corporate ideation platforms

Which effort pays off? Analyzing ideators’ behavioral patterns on corporate ideation platforms

Which effort pays off? Analyzing ideators’ behavioral patterns on corporate ideation platforms

Michael Gamber, Tobias Kruft, Alexander Kock

kHUB post date: March 18, 2024
Originally published: August 16 2021 (PDMA JPIM • Vol. 39, Issue 3 • May 2022)
Read time: 55 minutes

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The challenge of developing high-quality ideas as the basis of new goods and services is an important topic that coincides with companies’ rapid development of these products. In response, firms increasingly rely on online ideation platforms for ideation contests to optimize their employees’ creative power. This optimization requires a profound understanding of online ideation contests’ underlying mechanisms, specifically the participants’ innovative behavior that contributes to generating, elaborating, and championing ideas based on each ideator's effort distribution, namely their behavioral patterns. Our analysis of the ideators’ behavioral patterns and their relationship to idea success consists of two steps. First, we combine contest theory with innovative behavior literature to derive eight types of innovative behavior in online contests—clustered into the three categories idea generation, elaboration, and championing—that represent the ideators’ required efforts to compete in an ideation contest successfully. Second, we use a unique empirical sample, which combines platform and evaluation data of a corporate R&D ideation contest with participants’ survey data, received a few days before the contest's closure, to analyze the relationship between the effort invested in these dimensions and idea success. The results show that more effort does not necessarily lead to better results. The effort invested in idea generation, such as more extensive submission (“spamming”) and creative inspiration (“copying”), could be wasted and even has adverse effects on idea success. However, especially effort invested into idea championing provides strong possibilities to increase idea success.

Practitioner Points

  • Ideators’ effort invested in corporate ideation platforms affects idea success independent of the ideators’ ability.
  • More effort does not necessarily lead to better results—investing effort in extensive submission and creative inspiration can be wasted and even have a negative effect.
  • Ideators should instead invest effort in idea elaboration (e.g., idea revision) and championing (e.g., idea propagation).
  • Management can influence the allocation of effort, for example, by communicating the evaluation criteria or simulating communication between ideators.

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