Seminar: Organizational Impacts of Crowdsourcing: What Happens with "Not Invented Here" Ideas

Title: Organizational Impacts of Crowdsourcing: What Happens with "Not Invented Here" Ideas

Authors: Natalia Levina, NYU, Stern, Emmanouil Gkeredakis, Warwick Business School


The literature on crowdsourcing for innovation suggests that crowdsourcing is particularly well-suited for distant search, where the solution to the problem at hand lies in a domain of expertise that is unfamiliar to the problem owner. While this idea is appealing, there are a number of well-known challenges associated with organizational ability to evaluate and absorb knowledge from distant domains of expertise such as internal employees’ resistance and the lack of absorptive capacity. Moreover, recent work on the organizational impacts of crowdsourcing suggests that when organizations engage with online crowdsourcing platforms, on top of the well-known challenges, they may simply be overwhelmed with a high number of unfamiliar ideas and have trouble paying attention to them. We conducted an in-depth longitudinal field study of an R&D organization that used a digitally-enabled crowdsourcing platform to seek solutions for several of its long-standing R&D problems. We found that in-spite of following best practices as advised by the platform owners, the focal firm had hard time deriving value from its crowdsourcing journey. We unpack how the firm formulated the problem and made sense of the proposed solutions. Our study points out significant limitations of the digital innovation contests as a practice of conducting search for knowledge in distant scientific domains.

About the speaker

Natalia Levina has received her PhD in Information Technology from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and is Full Professor at New York University Stern School of Business. Her main research interest is in understanding how people span organizational, professional, cultural and other boundaries in order to generating innovative ideas and products. Currently, her studies focus on open innovation on digitally-enabled crowdsourcing as well as on global sourcing of expertise, content, and ideas. Her work has made significant contributions to the understanding of the vendor capability building in professional services, multivendor portfolio strategies, knowledge sharing and collaboration effectiveness for distributed innovation, and strategies for open innovation.

Her research has been published in top journals such as Information Systems Research, MIS Quarterly, Organization Science, Journal of Management Information Systems, Academy of Management Journal, and Decision Sciences Journal, among others. She received Best Published Paper of 2015 Award in the field of Information Systems, Best Published Paper of 2015 Award from Information & Organization journal, Best Published Paper of 2015 award from Academy of Management Research Methods Division, Best Published Paper of 2014 award from the Academy of Management OCIS Division, numerous best conference paper awards, and two PhD dissertation awards. She has served as a Senior Editor at Information Systems Research, as a board member of Organization Science journal, and is on the editorial board of Information & Organizations.

Moreover, she is an innovative teacher who has developed a unique course on “Globalization, Open Innovation, and Crowdsourcing: New Way of Organizing Work,” which has been receiving stellar evaluations in MBA and Executive MBA programs. She has also developed a new course on “Digital Innovation and Crowdsourcing” for undergraduates. She has been nominated for Best Professor award by NYU Stern’s MBA students. She is a frequent speaker on these topics in academic and industry conferences.