Want to Successfully Manage Innovation Tournaments?

This content relates to : DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION


To successfully manage crowdsourcing projects: 

Focus on engagement. Companies should pay more attention to participant engagement in crowdsourcing. The number of participants and ideas is not the best driver of success. 

Use moderator feedback to drive engagement. Training moderators to provide well-structured constructive negative feedback early in the project is a winning strategy. 

Actively monitor engagement metrics. Companies should ask their platform providers to provide ongoing reports on engagement metrics such as idea viewing and updating. 

Hyoryung Nam

Syracuse University

Companies increasingly use innovation tournaments to crowdsource innovation ideas from customers. An industry report notes that 85% of the top 100 global brands have crowdsourced new product and marketing ideas. However, not all companies have successfully run crowdsourcing campaigns. To enhance the idea quality of crowdsourcing campaigns, companies interact with and provide feedback to participants. 

This research examines (1) how companies successfully manage crowdsourcing campaigns and (2) how companies appropriately leverage moderator feedback to drive participant engagement in crowdsourcing campaigns and enhance the quality of ideas.  

The current research tests the role of moderator feedback on crowdsourced idea quality using one large-scale managerial survey and two longitudinal experiments. The survey was conducted on innovation managers across several industries. The experiments were conducted by collaborating with a commercial innovation tournament platform – CogniStreamer. This platform allows participants to submit their ideas, receive feedback from moderators, and update their ideas. Participants were randomly split into different groups and received different types of qualitative moderator feedback (negative feedback, positive feedback, sandwich feedback, no feedback). Every week participants received feedback on different aspects of their idea. 5-6 pieces of feedback were provided to each participant throughout the tournament, and time-stamped participant engagement behaviors (e.g., pageviews and idea updates) were tracked after the provision of each feedback.  

The survey of innovation executives at 1,519 companies shows that participant engagement with crowdsourcing projects is the most critical driver of successful crowdsourcing projects. While many companies believe that they can harvest the wisdom of crowds by recruiting more participants and ideas, the results recommend that companies pay more attention to participant engagement to drive the success of crowdsourcing projects. 

Companies provide moderator feedback to help crowdsourcing participants improve their ideas. With limited guidance on feedback strategy, companies largely use a sandwich feedback strategy (i.e., sandwich the negative feedback between two pieces of positive feedback). But the present research finds that negative feedback is the most powerful driver of participant engagement with the innovation tournament. For instance, according to one of the empirical studies in the present research, 10.4% of participants who receive the negative feedback update their ideas, while 7.7% of participants who receive the sandwich feedback update their ideas. In addition, feedback timing matters. Early negative feedback drives participant engagement more effectively than late negative feedback. 


Hyoryung Nam 

Assistant Professor of Marketing, Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University 


To learn more, read: 

Camacho, Nuno, Hyoryung Nam, P.K. Kannan, and Stefan Stremersch (2019), “Tournaments to Crowdsource Innovation: The Role of Moderator Feedback and Participation Intensity,” Journal of Marketing, 83 (2), 138-157.