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The Value of Crowdsourcing: Can Users Really Compete with Professionals in Generating New Product Ideas?

Journal of Product Innovation Management, Forthcoming

37 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2010  

Marion Kristin Poetz

Copenhagen Business School

Martin Schreier

Bocconi University - Department of Marketing

Date Written: December 17, 2009

Abstract

Generating ideas for new products used to be the exclusive domain of marketers, engineers, and/or designers. Users have only recently been recognized as an alternative source of new product ideas. Whereas some have attributed great potential to outsourcing idea generation to the “crowd” of users (“crowdsourcing”), others have clearly been more skeptical. The authors join this debate by presenting a real-world comparison of ideas actually generated by a firm’s professionals with those generated by users in the course of an idea generation contest. Both professionals and users provided ideas to solve an effective and relevant problem in the consumer goods market for baby products. Executives from the underlying company evaluated all ideas (blind to their source) in terms of key quality dimensions, including novelty, customer benefit, and feasibility. The study reveals that the crowdsourcing process generated user ideas that score significantly higher in terms of novelty and customer benefit, and somewhat lower in terms of feasibility. However, the average values for feasibility – in sharp contrast to novelty and customer benefit – tended to be relatively high overall, meaning that feasibility did not constitute a narrow bottleneck in this study. Even more interestingly, it is found that user ideas are placed more frequently than expected among the very best in terms of novelty and customer benefit. These findings, which are quite counterintuitive from the perspective of classic new product development (NPD) literature, suggest that, at least under certain conditions, crowdsourcing might constitute a promising method to gather user ideas which can complement those of a firm’s professionals at the idea generation stage in NPD.

Keywords: Crowdsourcing

JEL Classification: O31

Suggested Citation

Poetz, Marion Kristin and Schreier, Martin, The Value of Crowdsourcing: Can Users Really Compete with Professionals in Generating New Product Ideas? (December 17, 2009). Journal of Product Innovation Management, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1566903

Marion Kristin Poetz (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000
Denmark

Martin Schreier

Bocconi University - Department of Marketing ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

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