Speaker: Marco Tonellato , Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
"In order to fill their innovation pipeline, organizations increasingly rely on crowdsourcing new ideas internally to employees. Within internal crowdsourcing platforms participants collaborate to create, develop, refine and evaluate innovative ideas. In this work, we look at idea championing - the process through which idea creators attract buy-in, support, and commitment for their ideas from other participants. Building on a relational perspective in sociology and innovation, we argue that the identities of ideas and their creators are dually constituted through act of mutual engagement. Idea creators may champion their ideas by engaging other participants’ ideas in the platform and ideas may elicit attention as a consequence of other participants’ acts of engagement. In particular, we examine how the interplay between the patterns of engagement to an idea and the past behavior of the idea creator on the crowdsourcing platform translate into participants committing to an idea. To test our hypotheses, we studied 1201 participants engaging with 244 ideas in an internal crowdsourcing platform of a multinational Fortune 500 company over a two months period. As part of this platform, individuals could decide to like, comment on, and commit to other participants’ ideas. Idea commitment indicates that participants commit to further develop and implement the ideas that get eventually selected. Our findings suggest that – after controlling for a series of relevant individuals and ideas characteristics – idea creators who engage with others’ ideas on the crowdsourcing platform elicit more commitment from others for their own ideas, due to increased visibility and to a sense of generalized reciprocity. Furthermore, ideas that attract the attention of very focused – or “specialist” – participants are more likely to generate commitment, as they signal a sharper identity. We discuss implications that contribute to the general discussion on distributed innovation systems."