Understanding Online Innovation Community: An Investigation of Group Diversity in Open Collaboration

Mr Wang Zhiyi
Dr Hahn Jungpil, Associate Professor, School of Computing

  21 Nov 2018 Wednesday, 03:00 PM to 04:30 PM

 Executive Classroom, COM2-04-02


The emergence of online innovation communities has provided a new business model to break the boundaries of innovation in organizations. Although these communities have created significant values for organizations and society, effective management of such communities are still challenging for companies and platform operators. Specifically, it is important to explore how to facilitate value co-creation as well as group efficiency in the open form collaboration. This dissertation seeks to examine open collaboration management and group formation in innovation communities to extend the literature on the effectiveness and efficiency in open innovation communities. Drawing on the group diversity perspective, two essays are incorporated to understand the organization of diverse individuals in online innovation collectives.

The first essay titled "Organizing the Online Crowds: Diversified Experience and Collective Performance in Crowdsourced New Product Development" investigates the role of knowledge variety in crowdsourced new product development. From the knowledge diversity and creativity perspectives, I develop a research model to understand: 1) different types of crowd members and 2) the value contributions to collective crowd performance from different member types. Using data from 425 crowdsourced product development campaigns, I empirically find that both diverse knowledge and specialized knowledge are important for collective performance of the crowd. In addition, generalists may not be valued in the online new product development context.

The second essay titled "Can I Touch Your Code? The Effects of Programming Style on Open Source Collaboration" focuses on the management of individuals with diverse work styles in open source software development. Drawing on the literature in software engineering and group diversity, I develop hypotheses on the effects of programming style on open source collaboration and development, as well as the factors that can shape the effects of programming style. I develop comprehensive measures to quantify programming style inconsistency at multiple levels and test these hypotheses using empirical data and source code from a prominent open source community. With large scaled static code analysis and econometric analysis, I find that style inconsistency exhibits negative effects through within file inconsistency on contribution activities rather than other collaboration outcomes. The negative effects are mitigated by team familiarity but unexpectedly intensified by developer experience. In addition, the enactment of coding standards to control programming style can only reduce style inconsistency within files but style inconsistency across files.

Overall, my dissertation takes a group diversity perspective to examine the effective management of open innovation communities. The open collaboration process, although can increase the reach to innovators, engenders uncertainties on creating innovations and organizing the groups. By focusing on the diversity of knowledge and work style in these groups, this dissertation seeks to explore the ways to better form online groups in open collaboration process for value co-creation and collaboration efficiency. It provides implications on the management of open innovation, online group dynamics and group diversity.