Advanced search
Add to list

Exploring hackathons: civic vs. product innovation hackathons

Author
Organization
Abstract
Hackathons are emerging worldwide as a new, grassroots interaction model to innovate with end-users. Whether they are called hackathons, hack days, codefests or makathons, a wide variety of organizations organize such events to attract skilled volunteers to work with their data, technology or solve specific issues by means of technological solutions. While the origins of this phenomenon are to be found in the open source community, this innovation strategy is now widely adopted by corporate organizations, public service organizations, NGOs and governments alike to tackle the often complicated challenges they are facing. Today, ‘hacking’ and ‘making’ are increasingly inroads to a more diverse range of activities, industries, and groups. The emergence of the hackathon format has led to an evolution from underground phenomenon, to mainstream playground, with a high empowering potential. This way, individuals and groups gain control over the production of technological artifacts which influence and shape the way they interact with their environment. Hackathons also connect like-minded people and foster a sense of common creation for a greater good, or for creative and fun purposes. As such, hackathons can also be considered as creative barrels which create space for crazy and inspiring forms of art. Either way, hackathons provide opportunities to create and to shape technology, thus contributing to the co-creation of a common socio-technical future. So far, the hackathon phenomenon has been approached from two different theoretical backgrounds, which are further explored – theoretically as well as empirically – in this paper. A first line of academic work considers hackathons from a socio-technical viewpoint, similar to the study of Free and open-source software (FOSS), focusing on their communal, democratic and cultural aspects. Such “civic hackathons” are often instigated by governments or public institutions and foster synergies between (governmental) Open Data and actors that have the potential to use the data for developing new applications, services or products (Harisson, Pardo & Cook, 2012). “Civic hackathons” are community-driven events which gather entrepreneurs, software developers, policy-makers, local journalists, educators, members of the arts community, or others representing certain areas of need or focus, working together to produce a material response to a social challenge faced in particular geographic communities (Meyer & Ermoshina, 2013). A second line of literature conceptualizes hackathons from an innovation management perspective. Whereas hackers and hacking, previously nominated as rebellious activities in the digital world, were initially considered harmful, threatening and villainous by technology developing organizations (Jordan & Taylor, 1998), these electronic disobedient neo-tribes (Taylor, 2005) are increasingly considered as an interesting source for innovation (Flowers, 2008; Mollick, 2005; Taylor, 2005). In line with Open Innovation strategies for new product development (Chesbrough, 2003), these academics frame hacking activities as a process to obtain external knowledge that can be applied in the innovation development process of the firm. This firm-centric approach focusses on controlled openness, knowledge transfers and the managerial application of the hackathon format as a toolkit for user innovation. While the two theoretical approaches outlined above clearly apply different frameworks to describe hackathons, this conceptual distinction has not yet been confronted with concrete manifestations of hackathons or studied empirically. Therefore, our research question wants to explore whether this conceptual distinction between civic and product innovation hackathons occurs in practice. Using an online survey (N=167), filled out by hackathon participants and organizers from 55 unique hackathons in Europe, the USA, South-America and Asia, we measured a wide range of descriptive parameters at the level of the hackathon (duration, competition model, goals, instigator, orientation, present stakeholders) and at the level of the individual participant (socio-demographic data, actor roles, expertise, gratifications, experience, civic engagement, psychological empowerment). Our analysis shows two clusters of hackathons, which are largely in line with the conceptual clusters ‘civic’ and ‘product innovation’ hackathons described in the literature.
Keywords
hackathons, participation, new product development, civic engagement, innovation management

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Baccarne, Bastiaan, Mathias Van Compernolle, and Peter Mechant. “Exploring Hackathons: Civic Vs. Product Innovation Hackathons.” I3 Conference 2015 : Participating in Innovation, Innovating in Participation, Abstracts. 2015. Print.
APA
Baccarne, B., Van Compernolle, M., & Mechant, P. (2015). Exploring hackathons: civic vs. product innovation hackathons. i3 conference 2015 : Participating in Innovation, Innovating in Participation, Abstracts. Presented at the i3 conference 2015 : Participating in Innovation, Innovating in Participation.
Chicago author-date
Baccarne, Bastiaan, Mathias Van Compernolle, and Peter Mechant. 2015. “Exploring Hackathons: Civic Vs. Product Innovation Hackathons.” In I3 Conference 2015 : Participating in Innovation, Innovating in Participation, Abstracts.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Baccarne, Bastiaan, Mathias Van Compernolle, and Peter Mechant. 2015. “Exploring Hackathons: Civic Vs. Product Innovation Hackathons.” In I3 Conference 2015 : Participating in Innovation, Innovating in Participation, Abstracts.
Vancouver
1.
Baccarne B, Van Compernolle M, Mechant P. Exploring hackathons: civic vs. product innovation hackathons. i3 conference 2015 : Participating in Innovation, Innovating in Participation, Abstracts. 2015.
IEEE
[1]
B. Baccarne, M. Van Compernolle, and P. Mechant, “Exploring hackathons: civic vs. product innovation hackathons,” in i3 conference 2015 : Participating in Innovation, Innovating in Participation, Abstracts, Parijs, Frankrijk, 2015.
@inproceedings{7033553,
  abstract     = {Hackathons are emerging worldwide as a new, grassroots interaction model to innovate with end-users. Whether they are called hackathons, hack days, codefests or makathons, a wide variety of organizations organize such events to attract skilled volunteers to work with their data, technology or solve specific issues by means of technological solutions. While the origins of this phenomenon are to be found in the open source community, this innovation strategy is now widely adopted by corporate organizations, public service organizations, NGOs and governments alike to tackle the often complicated challenges they are facing. 
Today, ‘hacking’ and ‘making’ are increasingly inroads to a more diverse range of activities, industries, and groups. The emergence of the hackathon format has led to an evolution from underground phenomenon, to mainstream playground, with a high empowering potential. This way, individuals and groups gain control over the production of technological artifacts which influence and shape the way they interact with their environment. Hackathons also connect like-minded people and foster a sense of common creation for a greater good, or for creative and fun purposes. As such, hackathons can also be considered as creative barrels which create space for crazy and inspiring forms of art. Either way, hackathons provide opportunities to create and to shape technology, thus contributing to the co-creation of a common socio-technical future.
So far, the hackathon phenomenon has been approached from two different theoretical backgrounds, which are further explored – theoretically as well as empirically – in this paper. 
A first line of academic work considers hackathons from a socio-technical viewpoint, similar to the study of Free and open-source software (FOSS), focusing on their communal, democratic and cultural aspects. Such “civic hackathons” are often instigated by governments or public institutions and foster synergies between (governmental) Open Data and actors that have the potential to use the data for developing new applications, services or products (Harisson, Pardo & Cook, 2012). “Civic hackathons” are community-driven events which gather entrepreneurs, software developers, policy-makers, local journalists, educators, members of the arts community, or others representing certain areas of need or focus, working together to produce a material response to a social challenge faced in particular geographic communities (Meyer & Ermoshina, 2013).
A second line of literature conceptualizes hackathons from an innovation management perspective. Whereas hackers and hacking, previously nominated as rebellious activities in the digital world, were initially considered harmful, threatening and villainous by technology developing organizations (Jordan & Taylor, 1998), these electronic disobedient neo-tribes (Taylor, 2005) are increasingly considered as an interesting source for innovation (Flowers, 2008; Mollick, 2005; Taylor, 2005). In line with Open Innovation strategies for new product development (Chesbrough, 2003), these academics frame hacking activities as a process to obtain external knowledge that can be applied in the innovation development process of the firm. This firm-centric approach focusses on controlled openness, knowledge transfers and the managerial application of the hackathon format as a toolkit for user innovation.
While the two theoretical approaches outlined above clearly apply different frameworks to describe hackathons, this conceptual distinction has not yet been confronted with concrete manifestations of hackathons or studied empirically. Therefore, our research question wants to explore whether this conceptual distinction between civic and product innovation hackathons occurs in practice.
Using an online survey (N=167), filled out by hackathon participants and organizers from 55 unique hackathons in Europe, the USA, South-America and Asia, we measured a wide range of descriptive parameters at the level of the hackathon (duration, competition model, goals, instigator, orientation, present stakeholders) and at the level of the individual participant (socio-demographic data, actor roles, expertise, gratifications, experience, civic engagement, psychological empowerment).
Our analysis shows two clusters of hackathons, which are largely in line with the conceptual clusters ‘civic’ and ‘product innovation’ hackathons described in the literature.},
  author       = {Baccarne, Bastiaan and Van Compernolle, Mathias and Mechant, Peter},
  booktitle    = {i3 conference 2015 : Participating in Innovation, Innovating in Participation, Abstracts},
  keywords     = {hackathons,participation,new product development,civic engagement,innovation management},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Parijs, Frankrijk},
  title        = {Exploring hackathons: civic vs. product innovation hackathons},
  year         = {2015},
}