Human-Computer Interaction Thesis Proposal

  • Gates Hillman Centers
  • Reddy Conference Room 4405
  • Ph.D. Student
  • Human-Computer Interaction Institute
  • Carnegie Mellon University
Thesis Proposals

Exploring Novel Online Innovation Contest Designs for Building Community and Producing Innovative Ideas

Online innovation contests are an increasingly popular approach that organizations use to achieve two important goals: (1) building a community of contributors around their challenges, and (2) producing innovative ideas to address those challenges. However, typical online innovation contest designs can be inefficient at achieving these two goals, as the focus on awarding monetary prizes to a small number of contributors in each contest overlooks potential opportunities and benefits for the majority of people to continue engaging in the community, especially after each contest ends. Furthermore, even when a large number of idea submissions are collected, many of them can be trivial, obvious, or infeasible. To address these inefficiencies, my thesis explores novel online innovation contest designs for engaging and benefiting more participants in the community as well as producing more innovative ideas.

My prior work consists of two randomized field trials that introduced peer advising interventions during real-world online innovation contests, in which participants were given structured opportunities to engage with one another and exchange feedback. Study 1 found that the intervention was effective at re-engaging losers from an ideation contest to serve as peer advisors for finalists during a subsequent prototyping contest, and that both peer advisors and finalists benefited from networking and learning from one another. Study 2 found that moving the intervention to the end of an ideation contest resulted in additional project-related benefits for both project teams and peer advisors, and that matching peers on project similarity increased the quantity of peer engagement. However, neither study found a significant impact of peer advising on project ideas in the contests, and project teams exhibited fixation on their initial ideas. In summary, my prior work successfully provided more opportunities for participants to engage and benefit in the community, but did not successfully produce more innovative ideas.

For my proposed work, I address this limitation of my prior work by exploring novel interventions for producing innovative ideas during online contests. Specifically, I propose a final study that introduces a structured set of collaborative brainstorming activities, in which experts with knowledge about relevant problems and solutions share information and feedback with participants during an online idea jam prior to a real-world online ideation contest deadline. Through a random-assignment experiment, in which half of the participants in an online idea jam engage in traditional solution ideation activities while the other half additionally engage in our structured set of collaborative brainstorming activities with expert input, I intend to analyze the impact of this intervention on the quality of ideas, as well as the mechanisms within the intervention that lead to more innovative ideas.

Thesis Committee:
Aniket Kittur (Co-chair)
Robert E. Kraut (Co-chair)
Chinmay Kulkarni
Alex Dehgan (Conservation X Labs)

Additional Proposal Information

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