Recognition Incentives for Internal Crowdsourcing: A Field Experiment at NASA

52 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2019 Last revised: 29 May 2020

See all articles by Jana Gallus

Jana Gallus

UCLA Anderson

Olivia Jung

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Karim R. Lakhani

Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Group; Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science; Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: May 22, 2020

Abstract

What might motivate employees to participate in internal crowdsourcing, a peer-based approach to innovation? Should organizations use incentives that are congruent with their established hierarchical structures, or should they use incentives that are aligned with the aspirational, peer-based approach to innovation? We partnered with NASA for a qualitative study and a field experiment (N=7,455) to understand the effectiveness of different incentives that may motivate its workforce to participate in crowdsourcing. First, we show that concerns about the legitimacy of peer-based innovation disincentivize employees to participate. Second, we find that managerial recognition, the incentive that is congruent with the established hierarchy, significantly increases engagement. It does so by alleviating legitimacy concerns and by offering managerial attention. Peer recognition, which is congruent with the aspirational, peer-based approach to innovation, is not found to have a significant overall effect. However, workers who are otherwise less visible were positively motivated by it. Our research provides guidance for hierarchical organizations that are seeking greater employee engagement in peer-based innovation, and it adds insights on motivational channels to the literature on organizational innovation.

Suggested Citation

Gallus, Jana and Jung, Olivia and Lakhani, Karim R., Recognition Incentives for Internal Crowdsourcing: A Field Experiment at NASA (May 22, 2020). Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 20-059, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3487992 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3487992

Jana Gallus

UCLA Anderson ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.janagallus.com/

Olivia Jung

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Karim R. Lakhani (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Group ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6741 (Phone)

Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science ( email )

1737 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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