Creative Problem Solving in Online Innovation Contests: What Motivates Top Solvers to Participate in the New Collaborative Economy?

Creative Problem Solving in Online Innovation Contests: What Motivates Top Solvers to Participate in the New Collaborative Economy?

Rolf K. Baltzersen (Østfold University College, Norway)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4543-0.ch013
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Online innovation contests represent one of the most interesting new ways of utilizing creative skills in the new collaborative economy, but we still know very little about what motivates the problem solvers. Previous studies suggest that the economic reward is not the only motivational factor, but there are many other motives too. The aim of this research study is to identify the core motivational dimensions based on the experiences of top solvers in three different types of online innovation contests. The empirical findings are used to construct a motivational typology for creative problem solving that can guide future research.
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Crowdwork in the New Collaborative Economy

The ‘new collaborative economy’ remains an ambiguous term to both scholars and the public, with various definitions. Several different terms are also used to describe more or less the same phenomenon, such as “sharing economy” (Frenken & Schor, 2019), “collaborative consumption” (Hamari, Sjöklint, & Ukkonen, 2016), “peer-to-peer economy” (Sundararajan, 2016), or “access economy” (Denning, 2014). However, most terms share a common understanding of an emerging marketplace where consumers rely on each other instead of large companies – giving, swapping, borrowing, trading, and renting both products and services in an online setting. Typically, access is more important than exclusive ownership, which suits Generation Z, assumed to prefer lower‐cost options that offer temporary access to different assets, like, for example, home and car sharing (Denning, 2014; Frenken & Schor, 2019; Hamari et al., 2016). Usually, a “web-based middleman” or online intermediary will ensure that the transaction is performed properly, but without directly controlling the consumer interaction (Frankenfield, 2018; Hamari et al., 2016). In addition, these new economic solutions often aim to serve a broader collective purpose or common good, like the alleviation of societal problems, such as hyper‐consumption, pollution, and poverty (Hamari et al., 2016). “Green values” are especially important, and many online platforms advertise that they contribute to reducing CO2 emissions. Although the environmental effects remain difficult to measure, sharing is expected to reduce the demand for new goods or facilities (Frenken & Schor, 2019).

Crowdwork is increasingly important in this collaborative economy, allowing thousands of people to work on the same project in an online setting. A large group can now perform separate “tasks” on short-term contracts in ways not previously possible. For example, in Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, workers bid to complete microtasks or very small units of work. A growing number of platforms also offer more complex project work that covers a wide range of professions (e.g. Upwork and Thumbtack) (Sundararajan, 2018). In addition, companies and other organizations increasingly seek external expertise when they are unable to solve problems (Chesbrough, 2017).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Intermediaries: Companies that organize innovation contests for seekers. They provide services that make it easy for a solution-seeking organization to use the knowledge of a large pool of solvers.

Motivation: The reason(s) for acting in a specific way, for example, individual needs, desires, wants, or drives.

Seeker: Any solution-seeking organization that has a problem and tries to solve it through an innovation contest. Seekers can be both large and small firms, governments, and other organizations.

Online Innovation Contests: A contest hosted by an organization seeking help from outsiders to solve an internal problem. A large number of individuals are invited to join online, and the persons who solve the problem win prize money.

Solver: Any person who participates in an innovation contest and attempts to solve a problem formulated by the seeker.

Creative Problem-Solving: The process of solving complex, open-ended problems.

Collective Intelligence: Group problem-solving, which includes large-scale collaboration in an online setting.

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