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    Assistant Professor

    Harvard Business School, Boston

    Marginality and Problem Solving Effectiveness in Broadcast Search

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    We examine who the winners are in science problem solving contests characterized by open broadcast of problem information, self-selection of external solvers to discrete problems from the laboratories of large R&D intensive companies and blind review of solution submissions. Analyzing a unique dataset of 166 science challenges involving over 12,000 scientists revealed that technical and social marginality, being a source of different perspectives and heuristics, plays an important role in explaining individual success in problem solving. The provision of a winning solution was positively related to increasing distance between the solvers field of technical expertise and the focal field of the problem. Female solvers known to be in the outer circle of the scientific establishment - performed significantly better than men in developing successful solutions. Our findings contribute to the emerging literature on open and distributed innovation by demonstrating the value of openness, at least narrowly defined by disclosing problems, in removing barriers to entry to non-obvious individuals. We also contribute to the knowledge-based theory of the firm by showing the effectiveness of a market-mechanism to draw out knowledge from diverse external sources to solve internal problems

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    Description

    Title : Marginality and Problem Solving Effectiveness in Broadcast Search
    Author(s) : L B Jeppesen, K R Lakhani
    Abstract : We examine who the winners are in science problem solving contests characterized by open broadcast of problem information, self-selection of external solvers to discrete problems from the laboratories of large R&D intensive companies and blind review of solution submissions. Analyzing a unique dataset of 166 science challenges involving over 12,000 scientists revealed that technical and social marginality, being a source of different perspectives and heuristics, plays an important role in explaining individual success in problem solving. The provision of a winning solution was positively related to increasing distance between the solvers field of technical expertise and the focal field of the problem. Female solvers known to be in the outer circle of the scientific establishment - performed significantly better than men in developing successful solutions. Our findings contribute to the emerging literature on open and distributed innovation by demonstrating the value of openness, at least narrowly defined by disclosing problems, in removing barriers to entry to non-obvious individuals. We also contribute to the knowledge-based theory of the firm by showing the effectiveness of a market-mechanism to draw out knowledge from diverse external sources to solve internal problems
    Subject : unspecified
    Area : Other
    Language : English
    Year : 2010

    Affiliations Harvard Business School, Boston
    Journal : Organization Science
    Volume : 20
    Issue : 5
    Pages : 1016-1033
    Url : http://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/3351241

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