Evaluation of Innovation Contests as an Alternative High-Tech Procurement Tool

Published on November 07, 2018


Innovation and innovative practices are buzzwords that have made their way through large corporations, government and even small business. While those from C-suite executives to line level staff constantly look for new ways to operate to increase efficiencies, maximize value or solve perceived unsolvable problems, many are met with resistance due to rigid corporate structure, lack of resources, or an inability to effectively measure and compare the value of a new method to the status quo. Of those new methods, crowdsourcing, while of interest to researchers, has been met with limited adoption and is considered a novel and rarely used instrument in the toolbox of innovation managers in practice (H. Chesbrough and Brunswicker 2013). But to sell this notion that crowdsourcing is an answer to many of your company’s and fellow practitioner’s problems, it is key to understand the potential value of leveraging crowdsourcing, and specifically contests, when compared to traditional methods. That’s what this paper aims to address through a comprehensive evaluation framework for innovation contests as a procurement tool for high-tech innovations in the government context. But first we must define crowdsourcing and understand the different approaches to crowdsourcing.


Martin Schöll

Martin Schöll is a digital product manager at BYTON.

Jin Paik

Jin H. Paik is the Program Director and Senior Researcher at the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH). In his role, he serves as the lab’s general manager. He works to develop the lab’s strategic vision, as well as to direct project and research activities. He oversees the development of open innovation projects through partnerships with NASA, Harvard Medical School, federal government agencies, academic and research institutions, and industry leaders. He advises organizations on innovation strategies with a focus on starting and scaling open innovation practices. He has worked extensively on programs that focus on data science, development and use of artificial intelligence, technology commercialization, and the future of work. Prior to joining the LISH team, he worked at the Harvard Kennedy School and Mathematica Policy Research. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree from Harvard University.

Steven Randazzo

Steven is currently serving as an Assistant Director of Research Management at the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard. Previously, he was the Director of Growth and Research at Viva + Impulse Creative Co., a digital advertising agency, where he was responsible for the growth and direction of the agency. Prior to his work with Viva +Impulse, Steven served as the Communications Director and Cofounder of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services IDEA Lab where he worked with startups and internal government teams to change the way government and health care solved some of the nation’s biggest problems.

Prior to the IDEA Lab, Steven worked at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as a Senior Advisor to the Administrator after serving in Governor Bill Richardson’s Administration as the Legislative Liaison for the New Mexico Human Services Department.

Karim Lakhani

Karim R. Lakhani is a Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and one of the Principal Investigators of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH). He specializes in the management of technological innovation in firms and communities. His research is on distributed innovation systems and the movement of innovative activity to the edges of organizations and into communities. He has extensively studied the emergence of open source software communities and their unique innovation and product development strategies. He has also investigated how critical knowledge from outside of the organization can be accessed through innovation contests. Currently, Professor Lakhani is investigating incentives and behavior in contests and the mechanisms behind scientific team formation through field experiments on the Topcoder platform and the Harvard Medical School.

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