The Importance of Breaking Instead of Compressing Time in Accelerated Innovation: A Study of Makeathons’ New Product Development Process

68 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2018 Last revised: 11 Dec 2018

See all articles by Hila Lifshitz-Assaf

Hila Lifshitz-Assaf

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business; Harvard Business School

Sarah Lebovitz

New York University, Stern School of Business

Lior Zalmanson

University of Haifa

Date Written: November 7, 2018

Abstract

The innovation journey of new product development processes often spans weeks or months. Recently, hackathons and makeathons suggest turning the journey into a sprint of only a couple of days using new tools and technologies. This brings new temporal conditions and dynamics to the innovation process. Based on existing research, we would expect such conditions to result in failure to produce new working products, yet they often lead to working, innovative products. To investigate this puzzle, we closely studied the product development process of 13 comparable projects in assistive technology makeathons. We find that accelerating innovation induced not only high product development ambiguity but also temporal ambiguity. In response, some projects compressed time and worked in high synchronization while other projects broke time and worked in low synchronization. The underlying difference between compressing and breaking projects was rooted in their different perceptions of the accelerated innovation time frame. This played a critical role as only projects that broke time were able to produce functioning new products. They sustained both product development and temporal ambiguity throughout the process despite the extremely limited time frame. This study contributes to theories on innovation processes and temporality.

Keywords: innovation, hackathons, temporality, new product development

Suggested Citation

Lifshitz-Assaf, Hila and Lebovitz, Sarah and Zalmanson, Lior, The Importance of Breaking Instead of Compressing Time in Accelerated Innovation: A Study of Makeathons’ New Product Development Process (November 7, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3280219 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3280219

Hila Lifshitz-Assaf (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Cotting House 321A
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Sarah Lebovitz

New York University, Stern School of Business ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Lior Zalmanson

University of Haifa ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 31905
Israel

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