What brings better innovation: Competition or collaboration?


Today, when you talk about innovation, you’ll probably discuss open innovation as well. Keeping the corporation closed and hoping that visionnary geniuses come up with ideas is possible (Apple does this!), but more potential lies in opening the innovation funnel to get inspiration from outside. One of the most popular ways to access innovative ideas and solutions is to set up a contest. Popular examples are Pepsi’s Refresh Project (PepsiCo) or the Co-Creation Lab (Hyve for BMW). But are we talking co-creation or crowdsourcing here? In other words, do consumers collaborate or do they compete to win? Recent research suggests that output is better when you combine competitive and collaborative aspects.

This is the conclusion drawn by Hutter, Hautz, Füller, Mueller & Matzler (!) in their paper about what they call Communitition (community + competition). The paper analyzed a single co-creative contest to find out more about contributors and their roles in such an ephemeral co-design community. They basically looked at people’s contributions and activity on the site to identify different co-creators. Among the active contributors, you’ll find either competitors, people who submit cool ideas but don’t discuss or reveal information, or co-operators, who submit few ideas but comment and improve others’.


The idea-platform Jovoto encourages discussion to improve ideas - a clever strategy

But there’s a lso a third type of active co-creator: the communititor. He combines advantages of the previous two, making him hyperactive on the platform and useful for the brand’s innovation effort. Besides, their ideas have a higher probability to be ranked high and to win. These results are quite intuitive, but they also bring up some interesting questions: Are social functionalities like this useful for the outcome of open innovation initiatives? Does interaction foster better ideas? According to this piece of research, it at least supports the creation of high-quality, new ideas… but the authors also state that this has to be verified by further research on diffrent communities and tasks. So, is communitition a relevant concept?

One Comment

  1. Very interesting concept! It is probably good to have some healthy competition to stimulate performance and to improve ideas. But how do to find and select these communititors? That might be a challenge as well.


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