Innovation Experiments: Researching Technical Advance, Knowledge Production and the Design of Supporting Institutions

This paper discusses several challenges in designing field experiments to better understand how organizational and institutional design shapes innovation outcomes and the production of knowledge. We proceed to describe the field experimental research program carried out by our Crowd Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University to clarify how we have attempted to address these research design challenges. This program has simultaneously solved important practical innovation problems for partner organizations, like NASA and Harvard Medical School, while contributing research advances, particularly in relation to innovation contests and tournaments.

Delivery partner 
Crowd Innovation Lab, NASA Tournament Lab, TopCoder, Harvard Medical School
Hypotheses/research question 
What are the challenges to implementing experimental approaches to estimate causal relationships in the field of economics of innovation? What steps can be taken to spread the field experimental research method to the economics of innovation literature?
Study design 
Meta-analysis
Reference 
Boudreau, K. J., & Lakhani, K., 2015. 'Innovation Experiments: Researching Technical Advance, Knowledge Production and the Design of Supporting Institutions'. Forthcoming in Innovation Policy and the Economy, volume 16, edited by Josh Lerner and Scott Stern. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.; Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Working Paper No. 16-001; Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 16-001.