Karim R. Lakhani

Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration

Karim R. Lakhani is Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, the Principal Investigator of the Crowd Innovation Lab and NASA Tournament Lab at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science and the faculty co-founder of the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative. He specializes in technology management and innovation.  His research examines crowd-based innovation models and the digital transformation of companies and industries. Professor Lakhani is known for his pioneering scholarship on how communities and contests can be designed and managed to achieve innovative outcomes. He has partnered with NASA, TopCoder and the Harvard Medical School to conduct field experiments on the design of crowd innovation programs. His research on digital transformation has shown the importance of data and analytics as drivers of business and operating model transformation and source of competitive advantage

Professor Lakhani’s research has been published in Harvard Business Review, Innovations, Journal of Organization Design, Management Science, Nature Biotechnology, Organization Science, RAND Journal of Economics, Research Policy and MIT Sloan Management Review.  He is the co-editor of two books from MIT Press on distributed innovation models including Revolutionizing Innovation: Users, Communities and Open Innovation (2016) and Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software (2005). His research has been featured in BusinessWeek, The Boston Globe, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc., The New York Times, The New York Academy of Sciences Magazine, Science, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Wired.  

Professor Lakhani’s research has been recognized on several occasions, including as one of three finalists for the best paper published in operations management in Management Science (2010-2012), as runner up for the Harvard Business Review-McKinsey Award (2013) and as the winner of the Production and Operations Management Award by The Case Centre in 2015. The totality of his research output was recognized by the Technical University of Munich’s Peter Pribilla Foundation Prize for Research in Innovation in 2008 and by the University of Innsbruck’s Innovation Management Partner Award for Excellence in Innovation Research in 2011.

Professor Lakhani has taught extensively in Harvard Business School’s MBA, executive and doctoral programs.  He co-developed a new course on Digital Innovation and Transformation for the elective MBA curriculum and co-chairs the executive program on Competing with Big Data and Business Analytics.  

He serves on the Board of Directors of Mozilla Corporation and Local Motors.

Professor Lakhani was awarded his Ph.D. in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also holds an SM degree in Technology and Policy from MIT, and a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and Management from McMaster University in Canada. He was a recipient of the Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship and a doctoral fellowship from Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council. Prior to coming to HBS he served as a Lecturer in the Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship group at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.  Professor Lakhani has also worked in sales, marketing and new product development roles at GE Healthcare and was a consultant with The Boston Consulting Group.  


  1. Revolutionizing Innovation: Users, Communities, and Open Innovation

    Dietmar Harhoff and Karim R. Lakhani

    The last two decades have witnessed an extraordinary growth of new models of managing and organizing the innovation process, which emphasize users over producers. Large parts of the knowledge economy now routinely rely on users, communities, and open innovation approaches to solve important technological and organizational problems. This view of innovation, pioneered by the economist Eric von Hippel, counters the dominant paradigm, which casts the profit-seeking incentives of firms as the main driver of technical change. In a series of influential writings, von Hippel and colleagues found empirical evidence that flatly contradicted the producer-centered model of innovation. Since then, the study of user-driven innovation has continued and expanded, with further empirical exploration of a distributed model of innovation that includes communities and platforms in a variety of contexts and with the development of theory to explain the economic underpinnings of this still emerging paradigm. This volume provides a comprehensive and multidisciplinary view of the field of user and open innovation, reflecting advances in the field over the last several decades. The contributors—including many colleagues of Eric von Hippel—offer both theoretical and empirical perspectives from such diverse fields as economics, the history of science and technology, law, management, and policy. The empirical contexts for their studies range from household goods to financial services. After discussing the fundamentals of user innovation, the contributors cover communities and innovation; legal aspects of user and community innovation; new roles for user innovators; user interactions with firms; and user innovation in practice, describing experiments, toolkits, and crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.

    Keywords: Innovation and Management; Transformation; Collaborative Innovation and Invention;


    Harhoff, Dietmar and Karim R. Lakhani, eds. Revolutionizing Innovation: Users, Communities, and Open Innovation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016. View Details

Journal Articles

  1. Firms, Crowds, and Innovation

    Teppo Felin, Karim R. Lakhani and Michael L. Tushman

    The purpose of this article is to suggest a (preliminary) taxonomy and research agenda for the topic of “firms, crowds, and innovation” and to provide an introduction to the associated special issue. We specifically discuss how various crowd-related phenomena and practices—for example, crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, user innovation, and peer production—relate to theories of the firm, with particular attention on “sociality” in firms and markets. We first briefly review extant theories of the firm and then discuss three theoretical aspects of sociality related to crowds in the context of strategy, organizations, and innovation: (1) the functions of sociality (sociality as extension of rationality, sociality as sensing and signaling, sociality as matching and identity); (2) the forms of sociality (independent/aggregate and interacting/emergent forms of sociality); and (3) the failures of sociality (misattribution and misapplication). We conclude with an outline of future research directions and introduce the special issue papers and essays.

    Keywords: crowdsourcing; innovation; open innovation; organization theory; strategy; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Organizations; Theory; Strategy;


    Felin, Teppo, Karim R. Lakhani, and Michael L. Tushman. "Firms, Crowds, and Innovation." Special Issue on Organizing Crowds and Innovation. Strategic Organization 15, no. 2 (May 2017): 119–140. (doi: 10.1177/1476127017706610.) View Details
  2. The Truth about Blockchain

    Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani

    Contracts, transactions, and records of them provide critical structure in our economic system, but they haven’t kept up with the world’s digital transformation. They’re like rush-hour gridlock trapping a Formula 1 race car. Blockchain promises to solve this problem. The technology behind bitcoin, blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that records transactions safely, permanently and very efficiently. For instance, while the transfer of a share of stock can now take up to a week, with blockchain it could happen in seconds. Blockchain could slash the cost of transactions and eliminate intermediaries like lawyers and bankers, and that could transform the economy. But, like the adoption of more Internet technologies, blockchain’s adoption will require broad coordination and will take years. The authors describe the path that blockchain is likely to follow and explain how firms should think about investments in it.

    Keywords: Technological Innovation; Technology Adoption; Information Management; Information Technology Industry;


    Iansiti, Marco, and Karim R. Lakhani. "The Truth about Blockchain." Harvard Business Review 95, no. 1 (January–February 2017): 118–127. View Details
  3. Detecting Figures and Part Labels in Patents: Competition-based Development of Graphics Recognition Algorithms

    Christoph Riedl, Richard Zanibbi, Marti A. Hearst, Siyu Zhu, Michael Menietti, Jason Crusan, Ivan Metelsky and Karim R. Lakhani


    Riedl, Christoph, Richard Zanibbi, Marti A. Hearst, Siyu Zhu, Michael Menietti, Jason Crusan, Ivan Metelsky, and Karim R. Lakhani. "Detecting Figures and Part Labels in Patents: Competition-based Development of Graphics Recognition Algorithms." International Journal on Document Analysis and Recognition (IJDAR) 19, no. 2 (June 2016): 155–172. (Published online before print, February 2016.) View Details
  4. Performance Responses to Competition Across Skill-Levels in Rank Order Tournaments: Field Evidence and Implications for Tournament Design

    Kevin J. Boudreau, Karim R. Lakhani and Michael E. Menietti

    Tournaments are widely used in the economy to organize production and innovation. We study individual contestant-level data from 2,796 contestants in 774 software algorithm design contests with random assignment. Precisely conforming to theory predictions, the performance response to added contestants varies non-monotonically across contestants of different abilities, most respond negatively to competition, and highest-skilled contestants respond positively. In counterfactual simulations, we interpret a number of tournament design policies (number of competitors, prize allocation and structure, divisionalization, open entry) as a means of reconciling non-monotonic incentive responses to competition, effectively manipulating the number and skills distribution of contestants facing one another.

    Keywords: Competition; Innovation Strategy;


    Boudreau, Kevin J., Karim R. Lakhani, and Michael E. Menietti. "Performance Responses to Competition Across Skill-Levels in Rank Order Tournaments: Field Evidence and Implications for Tournament Design." RAND Journal of Economics 47, no. 1 (Spring 2016): 140–165. View Details
  5. Looking Across and Looking Beyond the Knowledge Frontier: Intellectual Distance and Resource Allocation in Science

    Kevin J. Boudreau, Eva Guinan, Karim R. Lakhani and Christoph Riedl

    Selecting among alternative innovative projects is a core management task in all innovating organizations. In this paper, we focus on the evaluation of frontier scientific research projects. We argue that the "intellectual distance" between the knowledge embodied in research proposals and an evaluator's own expertise systematically relates to the evaluations given (and consequent resource allocation). We empirically evaluate effects in data collected from a grant proposal process at a leading research university in which we randomized the assignment of evaluators and proposals to generate 2,130 evaluator-proposal pairs. We find evaluators systematically give lower scores to research proposals closer to their own areas of expertise and to highly novel research proposals. We interpret the empirical patterns in relation to a range of theoretical mechanisms and discuss implications for policy, managerial intervention, and allocation of resources in the ongoing accumulation of scientific knowledge.

    Keywords: knowledge; innovation; novelty; evaluation; resource allocation; Resource Allocation; Decision Choices and Conditions; Innovation and Management; Science-Based Business; Experience and Expertise;


    Boudreau, Kevin J., Eva Guinan, Karim R. Lakhani, and Christoph Riedl. "Looking Across and Looking Beyond the Knowledge Frontier: Intellectual Distance and Resource Allocation in Science." Management Science 62, no. 10 (October 2016). View Details
  6. 'Open' Disclosure of Innovations, Incentives and Follow-on Reuse: Theory on Processes of Cumulative Innovation and a Field Experiment in Computational Biology

    Kevin J. Boudreau and Karim R. Lakhani

    Most of society's innovation systems―academic science, the patent system, open source, etc.―are "open" in the sense that they are designed to facilitate knowledge disclosure among innovators. An essential difference across innovation systems is whether disclosure is of intermediate progress and solutions or of completed innovations. We present experimental evidence that links intermediate versus final disclosure not just with quantitative tradeoffs that shape the rate of innovation, but also with transformation of the very nature of the innovation search process. We find intermediate disclosure has the advantage of efficiently steering development towards improving existing solution approaches, but also the effect of limiting experimentation and narrowing technological search. We discuss the comparative advantages of intermediate versus final disclosure policies in fostering innovation.

    Keywords: open innovation; cumulative innovation; incentives; search; disclosure and access; Knowledge Sharing; Motivation and Incentives; Collaborative Innovation and Invention;

  7. Digital Ubiquity: How Connections, Sensors, and Data Are Revolutionizing Business

    Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani

    When Google bought Nest, a maker of digital thermostats, for $3.2 billion just a few months ago, it was a clear indication that digital transformation and connection are spreading across even the most traditional industrial segments and creating a staggering array of business opportunities and threats. The digitization of tasks and processes has become essential to competition. General Electric, for example, was at risk of losing many of its top customers to nontraditional competitors—IBM and SAP on the one hand, big data start-ups on the other—offering data-intensive, analytics-based services that could connect to any industrial device. So GE launched a multibillion-dollar initiative focused on what it calls the industrial internet: adding digital sensors to its machines; connecting them to a common, cloud-based software platform; investing in software development capabilities; building advanced analytics capabilities; and embracing crowd-based product development. With all this, GE is evolving its business model. Now, for example, revenue from its jet engines is tied to reduced downtime and miles flown over the course of a year. After just three years, GE is generating more than $1.5 billion in incremental income with digitally enabled, outcomes-based business models. The company expects that number to double in 2014 and again in 2015.

    Keywords: Digital Innovation; digitization; industrial internet; Technological Innovation; Production; Competitive Strategy; Engineering; Aerospace Industry;


    Iansiti, Marco, and Karim R. Lakhani. "Digital Ubiquity: How Connections, Sensors, and Data Are Revolutionizing Business." Harvard Business Review 92, no. 11 (November 2014): 90–99. View Details
  8. Prize-based Contests Can Provide Solutions to Computational Biology Problems

    Karim R. Lakhani, Kevin J. Boudreau, Po-Ru Loh, Lars Backstrom, Carliss Y. Baldwin, Eric Lonstein, Mike Lydon, Alan MacCormack, Ramy A. Arnaout and Eva C. Guinan


    Lakhani, Karim R., Kevin J. Boudreau, Po-Ru Loh, Lars Backstrom, Carliss Y. Baldwin, Eric Lonstein, Mike Lydon, Alan MacCormack, Ramy A. Arnaout, and Eva C. Guinan. "Prize-based Contests Can Provide Solutions to Computational Biology Problems." Nature Biotechnology 31, no. 2 (February 2013): 108–111. View Details
  9. Using the Crowd as an Innovation Partner

    Kevin J. Boudreau and Karim R. Lakhani

    More and more organizations are turning to crowds for help in solving their most vexing innovation and research questions, but managers remain understandably cautious. It seems risky and even unnatural to push problems out to vast groups of strangers distributed around the world, particularly for companies built on a history of internal innovation. How can intellectual property be protected? How can a crowdsourced solution be integrated into corporate operations? What about the costs? These concerns are all reasonable, but excluding crowdsourcing from the corporate innovation tool kit means losing an opportunity. After a decade of study, we have identified when crowds tend to outperform internal organizations (or not). We outline four ways to tap into crowd-powered problem solving—contests, collaborative communities, complementors, and labor markets—and offer a system for picking the best one in a given situation. We emphasize that crowds are complementary to internal innovation efforts and present a new capability for firms that want to accelerate their innovation outcomes.

    Keywords: Innovation and Management; Research and Development;


    Boudreau, Kevin J., and Karim R. Lakhani. "Using the Crowd as an Innovation Partner." Harvard Business Review 91, no. 4 (April 2013): 61–69. View Details
  10. Experiments in Open Innovation at Harvard Medical School

    Eva C. Guinan, Kevin J. Boudreau and Karim R. Lakhani

    Harvard Medical School seems an unlikely organization to open up its innovation process. By most measures, the more than 20,000 faculty, research staff and graduate students affiliated with Harvard Medical School are already world class and at the top of the medical research game, with approximately $1.4 billion in annual funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). But in February 2010, Drew Faust, president of Harvard University, sent an email invitation to all faculty, staff and students at the university (more than 40,000 individuals) encouraging them to participate in an ideas challenge that Harvard Medical School had launched to generate research topics in Type 1 diabetes. Eventually, the challenge was shared with more than 250,000 invitees, resulting in 150 research ideas and hypotheses. The goal of opening up idea generation and disaggregating the different stages of the research process was to expand the number and range of people who might participate. Today, seven teams of multi-disciplinary researchers are working on the resulting potential breakthrough ideas. In this article, we describe how leaders of Harvard Catalyst, an organization whose mission is to drive therapies from the lab to patients' bedsides faster and to do so by working across the many silos of Harvard Medical School, chose to implement principles of open and distributed innovation.

    Keywords: Health Disorders; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Boston;


    Guinan, Eva C., Kevin J. Boudreau, and Karim R. Lakhani. "Experiments in Open Innovation at Harvard Medical School." Art. 3. MIT Sloan Management Review 54, no. 3 (Spring 2013): 45–52. View Details
  11. Using Open Innovation to Identify the Best Ideas

    Andrew King and Karim R. Lakhani

    Which parts of your innovation processes should you open up to the wider world? To reap the benefits of open innovation, executives must understand what to open, how to open it, and how to manage the resulting problems. According to authors Andrew King of Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business and Karim R. Lakhani of the Harvard Business School and the NASA Tournament Lab, many organizations "are finding that making open innovation work can be more complicated than it looks."

    Keywords: Collaborative Innovation and Invention;


    King, Andrew, and Karim R. Lakhani. "Using Open Innovation to Identify the Best Ideas." MIT Sloan Management Review 55, no. 1 (Fall 2013): 41–48. View Details
  12. Incentives and Problem Uncertainty in Innovation Contests: An Empirical Analysis

    Kevin J. Boudreau, Nicola Lacetera and Karim R. Lakhani

    Contests are a historically important and increasingly popular mechanism for encouraging innovation. A central concern in designing innovation contests is how many competitors to admit. Using a unique data set of 9,661 software contests, we provide evidence of two coexisting and opposing forces that operate when the number of competitors increases. Greater rivalry reduces the incentives of all competitors in a contest to exert effort and make investments. At the same time, adding competitors increases the likelihood that at least one competitor will find an extreme-value solution. We show that the effort-reducing effect of greater rivalry dominates for less uncertain problems whereas the effect on the extreme value prevails for more uncertain problems. Adding competitors thus systematically increases overall contest performance for high-uncertainty problems. We also find that higher uncertainty reduces the negative effect of added competitors on incentives. Thus uncertainty and the nature of the problem should be explicitly considered in the design of innovation tournaments. We explore the implications of our findings for the theory and practice of innovation contests.

    Keywords: Motivation and Incentives; Problems and Challenges; Risk and Uncertainty; Innovation and Invention; Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques; Value; Software; Competition; Performance; Theory; Practice;


    Boudreau, Kevin J., Nicola Lacetera, and Karim R. Lakhani. "Incentives and Problem Uncertainty in Innovation Contests: An Empirical Analysis." Management Science 57, no. 5 (May 2011): 843–863. View Details
  13. Marginality and Problem-Solving Effectiveness in Broadcast Search

    Lars Bo Jeppesen and Karim R. Lakhani

    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. We find 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 solver's 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.

    Keywords: Competition; Open Source Distribution; Knowledge Use and Leverage; Markets; Independent Innovation and Invention; Problems and Challenges; Research and Development; Gender; Science;


    Jeppesen, Lars Bo, and Karim R. Lakhani. "Marginality and Problem-Solving Effectiveness in Broadcast Search." Organization Science 21, no. 5 (September–October 2010): 1016–1033. View Details

Book Chapters

  1. Revolutionizing Innovation: Fundamentals and New Perspectives

    Dietmar Harhoff and Karim R. Lakhani


    Harhoff, Dietmar, and Karim R. Lakhani. "Revolutionizing Innovation: Fundamentals and New Perspectives." Chap. 1 in Revolutionizing Innovation: Users, Communities, and Open Innovation, edited by Dietmar Harhoff and Karim R. Lakhani, 1–24. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016. View Details
  2. Innovation Experiments: Researching Technical Advance, Knowledge Production and the Design of Supporting Institutions

    Kevin J. Boudreau and Karim R. Lakhani

    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.

    Keywords: Organizational Design; Research; Knowledge; Innovation and Invention;


    Boudreau, Kevin J., and Karim R. Lakhani. "Innovation Experiments: Researching Technical Advance, Knowledge Production and the Design of Supporting Institutions." In Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 16, edited by William R. Kerr, Josh Lerner, and Scott Stern, 135–167. National Bureau of Economic Research, and University of Chicago Press, 2016. View Details
  3. Open Innovation and Organizational Boundaries: Task Decomposition, Knowledge Distribution and the Locus of Innovation

    Karim R. Lakhani, Hila Lifshitz - Assaf and Michael Tushman

    This chapter contrasts traditional, organization-centered models of innovation with more recent work on open innovation. These fundamentally different and inconsistent innovation logics are associated with contrasting organizational boundaries and organizational designs. We suggest that when critical tasks can be modularized and when problem-solving knowledge is widely distributed and available, open innovation complements traditional innovation logics. We induce these ideas from the literature and with extended examples from Apple, NASA, and LEGO. We suggest that task decomposition and problem-solving knowledge distribution are not deterministic but are strategic choices. If dynamic capabilities are associated with innovation streams, and if different innovation types are rooted in contrasting innovation logics, there are important implications for firm boundaries, design, and identity.

    Keywords: innovation; organizational boundaries; Institutional Logics; modular innovation; open innovation; Knowledge Sharing; Innovation Strategy; Organizational Design; Boundaries; Collaborative Innovation and Invention;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Hila Lifshitz - Assaf, and Michael Tushman. "Open Innovation and Organizational Boundaries: Task Decomposition, Knowledge Distribution and the Locus of Innovation." Chap. 19 in Handbook of Economic Organization: Integrating Economic and Organization Theory, edited by Anna Grandori, 355–382. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013. View Details
  4. The Confederacy of Heterogeneous Software Organizations and Heterogeneous Developers: Field Experimental Evidence on Sorting and Worker Effort

    Kevin J. Boudreau and Karim R. Lakhani

    Software development occurs in a patchwork or "confederacy" of different types of institutions (universities, small start-ups, multinational enterprises, government agencies, etc.) utilizing varied work approaches. Here we speculate on one possible explanation for this organizational heterogeneity: it may reflect inherent heterogeneity of the software workforce, in terms of which kinds of organizations individual workers prefer to work within ("institutional preference"). We take very preliminary steps towards investigating this possibility by devising a novel 10-day field experiment to estimate the differences in behavior that are created by sorting workers into their preferred institutional regimes versus having them unsorted. The experiment involved assigning 1,040 elite software developers to either a competitive or a cooperative work regime to create software for NASA's Space Life Sciences Directorate. Half of the subjects-the "sorted" group-were assigned according to their institutional preferences; the other half-the "unsorted" group-were assigned without regard to their preferences. Assignment was done in a manner where sorted and unsorted groups had identical distributions of raw problem-solving ability. We find a remarkably large effect of institutional preference-based sorting on the effort exerted. Sorting on institutional preferences roughly doubled effort within the competitive regime and increased effort by roughly half in the cooperative regime, while accounting for incentives. Our experimental approach and results indicate the importance of accounting for worker preferences in creative activities that drive the rate and direction of inventive activity in the economy.

    Keywords: Innovation and Invention; Software; Product Development; Organizations; Employees; Behavior; Competition; Cooperation; Creativity; Information Technology Industry;


    Boudreau, Kevin J., and Karim R. Lakhani. "The Confederacy of Heterogeneous Software Organizations and Heterogeneous Developers: Field Experimental Evidence on Sorting and Worker Effort." In The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity Revisited, edited by Josh Lerner and Scott Stern, 483–502. University of Chicago Press, 2012. View Details
  5. Organizations in the Shadow of Communities

    Siobhan O'Mahony and Karim R. Lakhani

    Keywords: Organizations; Civil Society or Community;


    O'Mahony, Siobhan, and Karim R. Lakhani. "Organizations in the Shadow of Communities." In Communities and Organizations. Vol. 33, edited by Christopher Marquis, Michael Lounsbury, and Royston Greenwood, 3–36. Research in the Sociology of Organizations. Emerald Group Publishing, 2011. View Details
  6. Why Hackers Do What They Do: Understanding Motivation and Effort in Free/Open Source Software Projects

    Karim R. Lakhani and Robert Wolf

    Keywords: Motivation and Incentives; Software; Open Source Distribution; Attitudes;


    Lakhani, Karim R., and Robert Wolf. "Why Hackers Do What They Do: Understanding Motivation and Effort in Free/Open Source Software Projects." In Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software, edited by Joe Feller, Brian Fitzgerald, Scott Hissam, and Karim R. Lakhani. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005. View Details

Working Papers

  1. Motivating Effort in Contributing to Public Goods Inside Organizations: Field Experimental Evidence

    Andrea Blasco, Olivia S. Jung, Karim R. Lakhani and Michael E. Menietti

    We investigate the factors driving workers’ decisions to generate public goods inside an organization through a randomized solicitation of workplace improvement proposals in a medical center with 1,200 employees. We find that pecuniary incentives, such as winning a prize, generate a threefold increase in participation compared to non-pecuniary incentives alone, such as prestige or recognition. Participation is also increased by a solicitation appealing to improving the workplace. However, emphasizing the patient mission of the organization led to countervailing effects on participation. Overall, these results are consistent with workers having multiple underlying motivations to contribute to public goods inside the organization consisting of a combination of pecuniary and altruistic incentives associated with the mission of the organization.

    Keywords: Motivation and Incentives; Service Operations; Performance Productivity; Health Industry;


    Blasco, Andrea, Olivia S. Jung, Karim R. Lakhani, and Michael E. Menietti. "Motivating Effort in Contributing to Public Goods Inside Organizations: Field Experimental Evidence." NBER Working Paper Series, No. 22189, April 2016. View Details
  2. Innovation and the Challenge of Novelty: The Novelty-Confirmation-Transformation Cycle in Software and Science

    Paul R. Carlile and Karim R. Lakhani

    Innovation requires sources of novelty, but the challenge is that not all sources lead to innovation, so its value needs to be determined. However, since ways of determining value stem from existing knowledge, this often creates barriers to innovation. To understand how people address the challenge of novelty, we develop a conceptual and an empirical framework to explain how this challenge is addressed in a software and scientific context. What is shown is that the process of innovation is a cycle where actors develop a novel course of action and, based on the consequences identified, confirm what knowledge is necessary to transform and develop the next course of action. The performance of the process of innovation is constrained by the capacities of the artifacts and the ability of the actors to create and use artifacts to drive this cycle. By focusing on the challenge of novelty, a problem that cuts across all contexts of innovation, our goal is to develop a more generalized account of what drives the process of innovation.

    Keywords: Innovation and Invention; Knowledge Acquisition; Knowledge Use and Leverage; Infrastructure; Science; Creativity; Software; Value;


    Carlile, Paul R., and Karim R. Lakhani. "Innovation and the Challenge of Novelty: The Novelty-Confirmation-Transformation Cycle in Software and Science." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 11-096, March 2011. View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. BlaBlaCar: The Road Ahead...

    Karim R. Lakhani, Arun Sundararajan, Emilie Billaud and Caroline Caltagirone

    In 2017, the co-founders of BlaBlaCar—the world’s largest long-distance carpooling company—reflected on the evolution of their venture and the way forward. BlaBlaCar had reached critical mass and size; yet staying still was not going to be enough to be relevant and competitive in the hyper competitive sharing economy sector. The co-founders felt that the time was now to capitalize on the trust that the platform had built with its members and explore adjacent opportunities. The options in front of them represented a wide variety of ways to grow but how should the team prioritize and figure out which of the opportunities represented a viable business strategy for their company?

    Keywords: Business Growth and Maturation; Business Startups; Transformation; Decision Making; Values and Beliefs; Growth and Development Strategy; Market Platforms; Network Effects; Strategic Planning; Competitive Strategy; Expansion; Internet; Online Technology; Search Technology; Transportation Networks; Transportation Industry; Web Services Industry; France; Europe;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Arun Sundararajan, Emilie Billaud, and Caroline Caltagirone. "BlaBlaCar: The Road Ahead..." Harvard Business School Case 617-050, February 2017. View Details
  2. Aston Martin: A Second Century of Performance and Luxury

    Vish V. Krishnan, Karim R. Lakhani and Amram Migdal

    Following the March 2016 launch of DB11, Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd.’s first new sports car platform in over a decade, this case discusses the future strategy of the famed British luxury auto manufacturer. Since its founding in 1902, Aston Martin has been characterized by leading automotive design of bespoke luxury vehicles. In 2016, CEO Andy Palmer faced decisions about the company’s future direction in an automotive industry in the midst of a digital tornado with the arrival of autonomous, internetworked, clean-energy-propelled vehicles. Palmer’s Second Century Plan called for Aston Martin to diversify into new vehicle categories and increase overall production volume in an effort to boost earnings without compromising Aston Martin’s reputation for exclusivity, style, and engineering. As one of the few luxury car companies not backed by a larger automaker, Palmer and Aston Martin faced the challenge of funding the development of new vehicles and maintaining a position of leadership in automotive design. “The big question is whether the Second Century Plan has us departing from our traditional role as a sports car and luxury manufacturer and moving into new segments, new businesses,” said Palmer in late 2016. “Is that a wise choice? How does a high-end premium provider in any business grow without losing its exclusive reputation? That is the eternal business question.”

    Keywords: luxury; auto brand; luxury auto; Growth; innovation; transformation; Business or Company Management; Goals and Objectives; Growth and Development Strategy; Brands and Branding; Product Marketing; Product Launch; Product Positioning; Operations; Product Design; Product Development; Production; Innovation and Invention; Transportation; Innovation and Management; Innovation Strategy; Change; Transformation; Management; Marketing; Auto Industry; Europe; United Kingdom; England;


    Krishnan, Vish V., Karim R. Lakhani, and Amram Migdal. "Aston Martin: A Second Century of Performance and Luxury." Harvard Business School Case 617-033, February 2017. View Details
  3. Bayern Munich in China

    Karim Lakhani, Sascha L. Schmidt, Michael Norris and Kerry Herman

    In 2015, German football club Bayern Munich is considering how to enter the Chinese market. Should it build its own infrastructure or rely on third-party partnerships to reach this massive football fan base?

    Keywords: football; soccer; Sports; China; Germany; Bundesliga; Digital technology; Market entry; Sports; Global Strategy; Online Technology; Sports Industry; Germany; China;


    Lakhani, Karim, Sascha L. Schmidt, Michael Norris, and Kerry Herman. "Bayern Munich in China." Harvard Business School Case 617-025, November 2016. View Details
  4. TSG Hoffenheim: Football in the Age of Analytics

    Feng Zhu, Karim R. Lakhani, Sascha L. Schmidt and Kerry Herman

    In 2015, Dietmar Hopp, owner of Germany's Bundesliga football team TSG Hoffenheim and co-founder of the global enterprise software company SAP, was considering how to ensure long-term sustainability and competitiveness for TSG Hoffenheim. While historically a small team from bottom rungs of the league, TSG Hoffenheim, with revenues of €60 million to €70 million, reached the top division of the Bundesliga in the 2008–2009 season thanks to a deliberate strategy focused on enhanced scouting, strong youth programs, and innovative technology and analytics that improved player development. In 2014 Hopp, who had personally invested €300 million in the club, built a "footbonaut," an automated training environment that collected data on players' skills and strengths. The tool, one of three in the world, helped scouts and coaches better assess and develop each player. Yet some managers felt the technology was a distraction, an investment too expensive for a team that was not yet cash-flow positive. The team finished the 2014–2015 season in eighth place, below the top division, and Hopp wondered whether the focus on technology and analytics was the right strategy to grow the club. He wondered if the "moneyball" approach—when a smaller team competed with wealthier teams by using statistical analysis to buy undervalued assets and sell overvalued assets—could work in football and if investments in technology could lead the team to financial independence.

    Keywords: Technology; Measurement and Metrics; Sports; Sports Industry;


    Zhu, Feng, Karim R. Lakhani, Sascha L. Schmidt, and Kerry Herman. "TSG Hoffenheim: Football in the Age of Analytics." Harvard Business School Case 616-010, August 2015. (Revised May 2017.) View Details
  5. From Correlation to Causation

    Feng Zhu and Karim R. Lakhani

    To make sound business decisions, managers must be comfortable with the concepts of correlation and causation. This background note provides an overview of correlation and causation using examples and explains why the former does not imply the latter. It also describes several methods for gaining insights into causal relations, including randomized experiments, panel data, matching, and regression discontinuity. The note is intended for a general audience and does not require advanced statistics knowledge.

    Keywords: statistics; regression; Data Analytics; Decisions; Forecasting and Prediction; Judgments;


    Zhu, Feng, and Karim R. Lakhani. "From Correlation to Causation." Harvard Business School Technical Note 616-009, August 2015. (Revised January 2017.) View Details
  6. Aspiring Minds

    Karim R. Lakhani, Marco Iansiti and Christine Snively

    By 2015, India-based employment assessment and certification provider Aspiring Minds had helped facilitate over 300,000 job matches through its assessment tools. Aspiring Minds' flagship product, the Aspiring Minds Computer Adaptive Test (AMCAT), used machine learning algorithms to evaluate the abilities of job seekers and provide feedback by measuring not only skills and knowledge, but also personality and behavior traits. Since its founding in 2007, the company developed several new assessment products, including SVAR, a spoken-English evaluation, Automata, a programming skills evaluator, a customer service test, and TESLA, a suite of products that assessed and provided certification for vocational skills. The company had recently expanded into parts of Africa, the Middle East, the Philippines, the U.S., and most recently, China. Aspiring Minds had seen success as a business-to-business (B2B) entity, creating and selling technology products geared towards industry verticals. By 2015 the business-to-consumer (B2C) side of the business in India had been quite successful as well, generating revenues equal to that of the B2B side. As Aspiring Minds worked to establish a presence in China, co-founders Himanshu and Varun Aggarwal considered whether a B2B or B2C approach would best help the company achieve scale.

    Keywords: Technology; Strategy; Higher Education; Technological Innovation; Employment; Technology Industry; India; China;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Marco Iansiti, and Christine Snively. "Aspiring Minds." Harvard Business School Case 616-013, November 2015. (Revised May 2016.) View Details
  7. BandPage (A)

    Karim R. Lakhani, Colin Maclay and Greta Friar

    BandPage CEO James "J" Sider is about to receive results from BandPage's targeted advertising campaign on music streaming service Rhapsody and learn whether BandPage's strategy to improve ad click through rates and generate revenue has succeeded. BandPage, which began as a Facebook app to help musicians build professional-looking pages and convert fan "likes" into revenue, has become a major hub in the online music network. BandPage has deals with upstream and downstream music partners, from streaming services to ticket sellers to merchandise companies, and has built relationships with artists by providing a one stop shop to update current band information across most major music sites simultaneously. BandPage's most recent project has been to differentiate fans by their behavior on streaming sites in order to target super fans with high priced, exclusive and/or personalized offers from artists. At a time when tensions are high between streaming services and artists who believe that they are not being fairly compensated for the use of their music, Sider is convinced that BandPage can help streaming services drive revenue growth for artists through ticket, merchandise and exclusive offer sales. If the Rhapsody data proves that BandPage's strategy is working, the potential revenue growth for BandPage and all of its partners is massive.

    Keywords: Music industry; Digital Innovation; digital music; digital marketing; mobile marketing; Technological Innovation; Marketing Communications; Music Entertainment; Mobile Technology; Music Industry;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Colin Maclay, and Greta Friar. "BandPage (A)." Harvard Business School Case 616-015, October 2015. View Details
  8. The Thermostat Industry: Transformation from Analog to Digital

    Karim R. Lakhani, Kerry Herman and Christine Snively

    This note examines the evolution of the thermostat industry as it transitioned from analog to digital technologies. It presents an overview of key industry participants and the shift in value creation and value capture models for firms.

    Keywords: digital; digital convergence; business models; digital transformation; digital transition; technology change; technology strategy; Technology; United States;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Kerry Herman, and Christine Snively. "The Thermostat Industry: Transformation from Analog to Digital." Harvard Business School Technical Note 615-038, December 2014. View Details
  9. Victors & Spoils: 'Born Open'

    Karim R. Lakhani and Michael L. Tushman

    Victors & Spoils (V&S), located in Boulder, Colorado, was the first advertising agency built on open innovation and crowdsourcing principles from the ground-up. V&S was co-founded in 2009 by John Winsor, Claudia Batten and Evan Fry, all former members of the advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B). V&S crowdsourced creative ideas for its ad campaigns through Agency Machine, its proprietary online platform. CEO John Winsor wanted to change the way that advertising was done, a difficult task in an industry entrenched in traditional models. The case follows Winsor as he prepares to scale his business and must determine the best way to do so. He has an offer from Havas, a leading global advertising company interested in acquiring V&S, which would give V&S access to unprecedented resources. However, Winsor and the V&S team have concerns about how their innovative processes may be affected by partnering with a large, traditional company.

    Keywords: advertising agency; marketing; crowdsourcing; open innovation; Growth; Acquisitions; Advertising; Advertising Campaigns; Online Advertising; Acquisition; Innovation and Invention; Advertising Industry; United States;


    Lakhani, Karim R., and Michael L. Tushman. "Victors & Spoils: 'Born Open'." Harvard Business School Multimedia/Video Case 415-701, September 2014. View Details
  10. Havas: Change Faster

    Karim R. Lakhani and Michael L. Tushman

    As of 2013, Havas was the 6th largest global advertising, digital, and communications group in the world. Headquartered in Paris, France, the group was highly decentralized, with semi-independent agencies in more than 100 countries offering a variety of services. The largest unit of Havas was Havas Worldwide, an integrated marketing communications agency headquartered in New York, NY. CEO David Jones was determined to make Havas Worldwide the most future-focused agency in the industry by becoming a leader in digital innovation. The case explores the tensions within the company as David Jones attempts to change the company to compete in an industry undergoing digital transformation. The case uses the example of the acquisition of Victors & Spoils, a crowdsourcing advertising agency, to examine internal reactions.

    Keywords: advertising agency; open innovation; advertising; commercials; digital marketing; digital media; digital transition; Advertising; Online Advertising; Advertising Campaigns; Acquisition; Change Management; Disruption; Transformation; Advertising Industry; Communications Industry;


    Lakhani, Karim R., and Michael L. Tushman. "Havas: Change Faster." Harvard Business School Multimedia/Video Case 615-702, September 2014. View Details
  11. Netflix: Designing the Netflix Prize (B)

    Karim R. Lakhani, Wesley M. Cohen, Kynon Ingram, Tushar Kothalkar, Maxim Kuzemchenko, Santosh Malik, Cynthia Meyn, Stephanie Healy Pokrywa and Greta Friar

    This supplemental case follows up on the Netflix Prize Contest described in Netflix: Designing the Netflix Prize (A). In the A case, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings must decide how to organize a crowdsourcing contest to improve the algorithms for Netflix's movie recommendation software. The B case follows the contest from the building of the platform in 2006 to the awarding of the highest prize in 2009. The B case also considers the aftermath of the contest, and the issues of successfully implementing a winning idea from a contest.

    Keywords: crowdsourcing; Prizes; digitization; algorithms; recommendation software; Disruption; Transformation; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Technological Innovation; Knowledge Sharing;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Wesley M. Cohen, Kynon Ingram, Tushar Kothalkar, Maxim Kuzemchenko, Santosh Malik, Cynthia Meyn, Stephanie Healy Pokrywa, and Greta Friar. "Netflix: Designing the Netflix Prize (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 615-025, September 2014. View Details
  12. Netflix: Designing the Netflix Prize (A)

    Karim R. Lakhani, Wesley M. Cohen, Kynon Ingram, Tushar Kothalkar, Maxim Kuzemchenko, Santosh Malik, Cynthia Meyn, Greta Friar and Stephanie Healy Pokrywa

    In 2006, Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, was looking for a way to solve Netflix's customer churn problem. Netflix used Cinematch, its proprietary movie recommendation software, to promote individually determined best-fit movies to customers. Hastings determined that a 10% improvement to the Cinematch algorithm would decrease customer churn and increase annual revenue by up to $89 million. However, traditional options for improving the algorithm, such as hiring and training new employees, were time intensive and costly. Hastings decided to improve Netflix's software by crowdsourcing, and began planning the Netflix Prize, an open contest searching for a 10% improvement on Cinematch. The case examines the dilemmas Hastings faced as he planned the contest, such as whether to use an existing crowdsourcing platform or create his own, what company information to expose, how to protect customer privacy while making internal datasets public, how to allocate IP, and how to manage the crowd.

    Keywords: crowdsourcing; Prizes; digitization; algorithms; recommendation software; Disruption; Transformation; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Technological Innovation; Knowledge Sharing; Motion Pictures and Video Industry; Entertainment and Recreation Industry; Technology Industry; United States;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Wesley M. Cohen, Kynon Ingram, Tushar Kothalkar, Maxim Kuzemchenko, Santosh Malik, Cynthia Meyn, Greta Friar, and Stephanie Healy Pokrywa. "Netflix: Designing the Netflix Prize (A)." Harvard Business School Case 615-015, August 2014. View Details
  13. GE and the Industrial Internet

    Karim R. Lakhani, Marco Iansiti and Kerry Herman

    CEO Jeff Immelt considers whether GE is moving fast enough on its new Industrial Internet initiative. The undertaking includes building out an Industrial Internet, connecting machines and devices, collecting their data and operations, and providing services to clients based on analytics of this data and information. The case considers the implications of such an initiative across all 6 of GE's business units, and how best and how quickly to execute the strategy. The firm has committed $1b in investment, building out a new software center in California, and a commercial sales function at headquarters to deploy the new products and services.

    Keywords: technology; operations management; strategy; big data; Business analysis; corporate strategy; Digital technology; Digital Innovation; general management; general strategy; Global Competitiveness; global strategy; innovation; Innovation and Management; industrial internet; GE; Innovation and Invention; Technology; Air Transportation Industry; Energy Industry; Health Industry; Industrial Products Industry; Information Technology Industry; Manufacturing Industry; Medical Devices and Supplies Industry; Rail Industry; Transportation Industry; Technology Industry; North and Central America; Asia; Europe; Middle East; Latin America;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Marco Iansiti, and Kerry Herman. "GE and the Industrial Internet." Harvard Business School Case 614-032, April 2014. (Revised March 2015.) View Details
  14. Ford Motor Company: Blueprint for Mobility

    Karim R. Lakhani, Marco Iansiti and Noah Fisher

    Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company's COO, had to ensure the company's current business model of building cars and trucks remained strong, while concurrently navigating the company into the rapidly expanding industry of personal mobility. Personal mobility required new technologies and business models that were untraditional at Ford, and Fields had to evaluate the traditional business model colliding with the new business model.
    To direct these new technologies and business models, Ford released its "Blueprint for Mobility," which established near-, mid- and long-term goals to make mobility accessible and affordable to all.
    The case focuses on the launch of three mobility experiments (car sharing, parking, and on-demand ride sharing), and asks students to determine how Fields should balance these types of experiments with the company's traditional operations. Further, was Ford doing enough in the mobility space, and if so, was it moving fast enough? What new sources of revenue could Ford derive from mobility solutions?

    Keywords: Automobiles; Automobile Manufacturing; Ford Motor Company; Mark Fields; Blueprint for Mobility; Dearborn; Michigan; Car Sharing; Parking; On-demand Ride Sharing; Strategy; Business Model; Auto Industry; Michigan; United States;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Marco Iansiti, and Noah Fisher. "Ford Motor Company: Blueprint for Mobility." Harvard Business School Case 614-018, April 2014. View Details
  15. Prodigy Network: Democratizing Real Estate Design and Financing

    Karim R. Lakhani, Katja Hutter and Greta Friar

    This case follows Rodrigo Nino, founder and CEO of commercial real estate development company Prodigy Network, as he develops an equity-based crowdfunding model for small investors to access commercial real estate in Colombia, then tries out the model in the U.S. U.S. regulations, starting with the Securities Act of 1933, effectively barred sponsors from soliciting small investors for large commercial real estate. However, the JOBS Act of 2013 loosened U.S. restrictions on equity crowdfunding. Nino believes that crowdfunding will democratize real estate development by providing a new asset class for small investors, revolutionizing the industry. The case also follows Nino's development of an online platform to crowdsource design for his crowdfunded buildings, maximizing shared value throughout the development process. Nino faces many challenges as he attempts to crowdfund an extended stay hotel in Manhattan, New York. For example, crowdfunded real estate faces resistance from industry leaders, especially in regards to the concern of fraud, and SEC regulations on crowdfunding remain undetermined at the time of the case.

    Keywords: innovation; real estate; crowdfunding; crowdsourcing; Digital Innovation; Commercial Real Estate; online platforms; Disruption; Transformation; Design; Assets; Equity; Disruptive Innovation; Innovation Strategy; Online Technology; Real Estate Industry; Latin America; New York (state, US); United States;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Katja Hutter, and Greta Friar. "Prodigy Network: Democratizing Real Estate Design and Financing." Harvard Business School Case 614-064, March 2014. (Revised January 2015.) View Details
  16. Samsung Electronics: TV in an Era of Convergence

    Karim R. Lakhani, Marco Iansiti and Kerry Herman

    From the late 1990s to 2006/2007, Samsung Electronics moved from one of 170 TV manufacturers to gain dominant TV market share year over year from 2007-2013. As digital technologies increasingly converged in 2013-2014, the industry faced new questions: What was the future of TV? The case considers Samsung Electronics TV Group's product development processes, as the company's mobile and TV offerings increasingly converged and consumer demands and behavior pushed the historically clear boundaries of product, content, engagement and interaction.

    Keywords: Digital Innovation; technology; technology management; digital convergence; Digital technology; innovation; product development; korea; Samsung; television; Product design; Technological Innovation; Technology; Innovation and Invention; Innovation Leadership; Innovation and Management; Product Development; Product Design; Electronics Industry; Korean Peninsula; Asia;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Marco Iansiti, and Kerry Herman. "Samsung Electronics: TV in an Era of Convergence." Harvard Business School Case 614-034, March 2014. (Revised March 2015.) View Details
  17. 3D Systems

    Karim R. Lakhani and David Lane

    In late 2013, Rajeev Kulkarni needed to decide how best to facilitate the emergence of a broad base of users and content to promote the sale of 3D Systems' consumer-focused 3D printers. As yet, neither the company nor users had identified an indispensable application for 3D printing for consumers, despite a plethora of potential opportunities.

    Keywords: 3D printing; business ecosystems; 3D Systems; Growth and Development Strategy; Marketing Strategy; Copyright; Two-Sided Platforms; Product Development; Customization and Personalization; Manufacturing Industry;


    Lakhani, Karim R., and David Lane. "3D Systems." Harvard Business School Case 614-035, February 2014. (Revised August 2014.) View Details
  18. SAP 2014: Reaching for the Cloud

    Karim R. Lakhani, Marco Iansiti and Noah Fisher

    In May 2014, Bill McDermott will become the sole CEO of SAP AG, the world leader in the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) field. The case occurs in January 2014 at SAP's investors meeting, at a time when the company's stock is near record high. A 2010 strategy committed the company to a transition to cloud computing. The main driver behind this transition was the development of SAP HANA, an in-memory computing technology that combined database, data processing, and application platform functionality. Ownership of cloud infrastructure was a key question. SAP could build, own, and operate its own data centers, or partner to locate SAP HANA and other products with other cloud infrastructure providers, such as Amazon, Microsoft, or IBM. McDermott also had to make decisions around the organization and leadership of the company's cloud efforts.

    Keywords: information technology; Cloud Computing; platform; strategy and execution; strategy and leadership; enterprise resource planning; software; Information Technology; Technology Platform; Information Technology Industry; Germany;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Marco Iansiti, and Noah Fisher. "SAP 2014: Reaching for the Cloud." Harvard Business School Case 614-052, January 2014. (Revised March 2014.) View Details
  19. Nivea (B)

    Karim R. Lakhani, Johann Fuller, Volker Bilgram and Greta Friar

    This supplementary case follows up on an innovative R&D approach by Beiersdorf,a skin care and cosmetics company. The case relates what happened to the product launched by Beiersdorf, to its Nivea line, following the events of the A case, and how the commercial success of the product informed thinking by leaders in R&D for the future.

    Keywords: innovation; innovation management; Research and Development; marketing; Innovation Strategy; Innovation and Management; Research and Development; Product Design; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Beauty and Cosmetics Industry; Consumer Products Industry;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Johann Fuller, Volker Bilgram, and Greta Friar. "Nivea (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 614-043, January 2014. (Revised January 2017.) View Details
  20. Nivea (A)

    Karim R. Lakhani, Johann Fuller, Volker Bilgram and Greta Friar

    The case describes the efforts of Beiersdorf, a worldwide leader in the cosmetics and skin care industries, to generate and commercialize new R&D through open innovation using external crowds and "netnographic" analysis. Beiersdorf, best known for its consumer brand Nivea, has a rigorous R&D process that has led to many successful product launches, but are there areas of customer need that are undervalued by the traditional process? A novel online customer analysis approach suggests untapped opportunities for innovation, but can the company justify a launch based on this new model of research?

    Keywords: innovation; innovation management; crowdsourcing; Research and Development; big data; Innovation Strategy; Innovation and Management; Knowledge Management; Knowledge Sharing; Research and Development; Social and Collaborative Networks; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Beauty and Cosmetics Industry; Consumer Products Industry;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Johann Fuller, Volker Bilgram, and Greta Friar. "Nivea (A)." Harvard Business School Case 614-042, January 2014. (Revised January 2017.) View Details
  21. A Note on Funding Digital Innovation Startups

    Karim Lakhani, Michael Norris and Andrew Otazo

    This note provides information on the state of startup financing in Silicon Valley in 2013. It details different avenues startups have to raise funding, including venture capital, corporate venture capital, angel investors, incubators, and crowdfunding.

    Keywords: Startup; innovation & entrepreneurship; venture capital; angel investors; accelerator; crowdfunding; Silicon Valley; Venture Capital; Entrepreneurship; California;


    Lakhani, Karim, Michael Norris, and Andrew Otazo. "A Note on Funding Digital Innovation Startups." Harvard Business School Technical Note 614-039, January 2014. View Details
  22. Google Car

    Karim R. Lakhani, James Weber and Christine Snively

    By 2013, Google, while not a traditional manufacturer of automobiles, had invested millions of dollars in its self-driving cars which had logged over 500,000 miles of testing. The Google management team faced several questions. Should Google continue to invest in the technology behind self-driving cars? How could Google's core software-based and search business benefit from self-driving car technology? As large auto manufacturers began to invest in automotive technology themselves, could Google compete? Was this investment of time and resources worth it for Google?

    Keywords: Digital Services; innovation; technology; auto industry; Technological Innovation; Online Technology; Market Entry and Exit; Transportation; Auto Industry; United States;


    Lakhani, Karim R., James Weber, and Christine Snively. "Google Car." Harvard Business School Case 614-022, January 2014. (Revised March 2015.) View Details
  23. Open Innovation at Siemens

    Karim R. Lakhani, Katja Hutter, Stephanie Healy Pokrywa and Johann Fuller

    The case describes Siemens, a worldwide innovator in the Energy, Healthcare, Industry, and Infrastructure & Cities sectors, and its efforts to develop and commercialize new R&D through open innovation, including internal and external crowdsourcing contests. Emphasis is placed on exploring actual open innovation initiatives within Siemens and their outcomes. These include creating internal social- and knowledge-sharing networks and utilzing third party platforms to host internal and external contests. Industries discussed include energy, green technology, infrastructure and cities, and sustainability. In addition, the importance of fostering a collaborative online environment and protecting intellectual property is explored.

    Keywords: innovation; innovation management; crowdsourcing; information technology; Research and Development; Innovation Strategy; Innovation and Management; Knowledge Management; Knowledge Sharing; Research and Development; Energy Industry; Health Industry; Green Technology Industry; Manufacturing Industry;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Katja Hutter, Stephanie Healy Pokrywa, and Johann Fuller. "Open Innovation at Siemens." Harvard Business School Case 613-100, June 2013. (Revised March 2015.) View Details
  24. OpenIDEO

    Karim R. Lakhani, Anne-Laure Fayard, Natalia Levina and Stephanie Healy Pokrywa

    The case describes OpenIDEO, an online offshoot of IDEO, one of the world's leading product design firms. OpenIDEO leverages IDEO's innovative design process and an online community to create solutions for social issues. Emphasis is placed on comparing the IDEO and OpenIDEO processes using real-world project examples. For IDEO this includes the redesign of Air New Zealand's long haul flights. For OpenIDEO this includes increasing bone marrow donor registrations and improving personal sanitation in Ghana. In addition, the importance of fostering a collaborative online environment is explored.

    Keywords: Social Issues; Product Design; Social and Collaborative Networks; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Ghana; New Zealand;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Anne-Laure Fayard, Natalia Levina, and Stephanie Healy Pokrywa. "OpenIDEO." Harvard Business School Case 612-066, February 2012. (Revised October 2013.) View Details
  25. TopCoder (B)

    Karim R. Lakhani, Eric Lonstein and Stephanie Pokrywa

    Metrology plays a key role in the manufacture of mechanical components. Traditionally it is used extensively in a pre-process stage where a manufacturer does process planning, design, and ramp-up, and in post-process off-line inspection to establish proof of quality. The area that is seeing a lot of growth is the in-process stage of volume manufacturing, where feedback control can help ensure that parts are made to specification. The Industrial Metrology Group at Carl Zeiss AG had its traditional strength in high precision coordinate measuring machines, a universal measuring tool that had been widely used since its introduction in the mid-1970s. The market faced a complex diversification of competition as metrology manufacturers introduced new sensor and measurement technologies, and as some of their customers moved towards a different style of measurement mandating speed and integration with production systems. The case discusses the threat of new in-line metrology systems to the core business as well as the arising new opportunities.

    Keywords: Industry Growth; Forecasting and Prediction; Change Management; Production; Machinery and Machining; Planning; Quality; Competition; Diversification; Technology Adoption; Measurement and Metrics; Product Design; Manufacturing Industry;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Eric Lonstein, and Stephanie Pokrywa. "TopCoder (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 612-044, September 2011. View Details
  26. InnoCentive.com (B)

    Karim R. Lakhani and Eric Lonstein

    InnoCentive.com enables clients to tap into internal and external solver networks to address various business issues. In 2008, InnoCentive introduced "InnoCentive@Work" (lC@W), which recognized clients' reluctance to share problems and solutions with an external network. Instead, IC@W enabled clients to foster open collaboration amongst its own employees. IC@W became the fastest growing product in InnoCentive's portfolio. In 2010, InnoCentive added "team project rooms" which allowed small groups of solvers from InnoCentive's community to openly add posts and discussion threads after agreeing to the confidentiality and IP transfer requirements of the client. The case raises the questions of how the team room concept could be improved and how clients could be convinced of its benefits.

    Keywords: Market Platforms; Cost vs Benefits; Intellectual Property; Networks; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Product; Groups and Teams; Communication Technology;


    Lakhani, Karim R., and Eric Lonstein. "InnoCentive.com (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 612-026, August 2011. View Details
  27. InnoCentive.com (C)

    Karim R. Lakhani and Eric Lonstein

    InnoCentive.com enables clients to tap into internal and external solver networks to address various business issues. This case focuses on the outcome of InnoCentive's decision to post challenges related to environmental issues created by the Gulf Oil Spill. It reviews lessons learned from this experience and asks students to consider whether InnoCentive should post challenges in response to the nuclear crises resulting from the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

    Keywords: Innovation and Invention; Networks; Decisions; Outcome or Result; Pollution and Pollutants; Natural Disasters; Natural Environment; Japan;


    Lakhani, Karim R., and Eric Lonstein. "InnoCentive.com (C)." Harvard Business School Supplement 612-027, August 2011. View Details
  28. TopCoder (A): Developing Software through Crowdsourcing (TN)

    Karim R. Lakhani and Eric Lonstein

    Teaching Note for 610032.

    Keywords: Business Model; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Software; Product Development; Competition; Online Technology; Problems and Challenges; Perspective; Information Technology Industry; Service Industry;


    Lakhani, Karim R., and Eric Lonstein. "TopCoder (A): Developing Software through Crowdsourcing (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 611-071, March 2011. View Details
  29. Data.gov

    Karim R. Lakhani, Robert D. Austin and Yumi Yi

    This case presents the logic and execution underlying the launch of Data.gov, an instantiation of President Obama's initiative for transparency and open government. The process used by Vivek Kundra, the federal CIO, and his team to rapidly develop the website and to make available high-value data sets for reuse is highlighted. The case recounts Kundra's experience at the state and local government levels in developing open data initiatives and the application of that experience to the federal government. The case demonstrates the benefits of making government data available in terms of both engaged citizens and the potential for new innovations from the private sector. Potential drawbacks of open access including security and privacy issues are illustrated. Issues related to the role of government in releasing data and the balance between accountability and private-sector innovation are explored.      

    Keywords: Safety; Rights; Data and Data Sets; Internet; Ethics; Cost vs Benefits; Innovation and Management; Information Management; Public Administration Industry; Information Industry; United States;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Robert D. Austin, and Yumi Yi. "Data.gov." Harvard Business School Case 610-075, May 2010. (Revised May 2010.) View Details
  30. Myelin Repair Foundation: Accelerating Drug Discovery Through Collaboration

    Karim R. Lakhani and Paul R. Carlile

    This case presents the Myelin Repair Foundation's accelerated research collaboration model for drug discovery. It highlights the challenges of building a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional research collaboration that is attempting to create a treatment for multiple sclerosis based on a novel scientific approach. The case provides details on how norms of academic research and intellectual property had to be updated to enable collaboration. The current dilemma facing the CEO and COO of the foundation relates to setting strategic priorities for research so that a treatment for MS can be ready in the next ten years. The strategic choices need to account for the complexities of drug discovery, the uncertainty of commercial partners' interest in the therapeutic approach and the constrained donor-based fundraising environment.

    Keywords: Research and Development; Intellectual Property; Risk and Uncertainty; Strategic Planning; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Health Disorders; Pharmaceutical Industry; Biotechnology Industry; Health Industry;


    Lakhani, Karim R., and Paul R. Carlile. "Myelin Repair Foundation: Accelerating Drug Discovery Through Collaboration." Harvard Business School Case 610-074, March 2010. (Revised May 2012.) View Details
  31. TopCoder (A): Developing Software through Crowdsourcing

    Karim R. Lakhani, David A. Garvin and Eric Lonstein

    TopCoder's crowdsourcing-based business model, in which software is developed through online tournaments, is presented. The case highlights how TopCoder has created a unique two-sided innovation platform consisting of a global community of over 225,000 developers who compete to write software modules for its over 40 clients. Provides details of a unique innovation platform where complex software is developed through ongoing online competitions. By outlining the company's evolution, the challenges of building a community and refining a web-based competition platform are illustrated. Experiences and perspectives from TopCoder community members and clients help show what it means to work from within or in cooperation with an online community. In the case, the use of distributed innovation and its potential merits as a corporate problem solving mechanism is discussed. Issues related to TopCoder's scalability, profitability, and growth are also explored.

    Keywords: Business Model; Innovation and Invention; Two-Sided Platforms; Motivation and Incentives; Social and Collaborative Networks; Competition; Software; Technology Industry;


    Lakhani, Karim R., David A. Garvin, and Eric Lonstein. "TopCoder (A): Developing Software through Crowdsourcing." Harvard Business School Case 610-032, January 2010. (Revised May 2012.) View Details
  32. InnoCentive.com (A)

    Karim R. Lakhani

    InnoCentive.com, a firm connecting R&D labs of large organizations to diverse external solvers through innovation contests, has to decide if it will enable collaboration in its community. Case covers the basics of a distributed innovation system works and the advantages of having external R&D. Links how concepts of open source are applied to a non-software setting. Describes the rationale for participation by solvers in innovation contests and the benefits that accrue to firms. Raises the issue if a community can be shifted to collaboration when competition was the basis of prior interaction.

    Keywords: Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Open Source Distribution; Research and Development; Competition; Cooperation;


    Lakhani, Karim R. "InnoCentive.com (A)." Harvard Business School Case 608-170, June 2008. (Revised October 2009.) View Details
  33. SAP AG: Orchestrating the Ecosystem

    Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani

    Business ecosystems require careful orchestration and strategic choices regarding make/buy/partner decisions and membership access. This case examines the strategic and technological issues related to managing SAP's thriving ecosystem of user communities, software vendors, integration partners, and technology providers. It details how the ecosystem gets developed and the challenges in meeting the needs of the internal organization, large partners, and small up-and-coming firms. SAP executives, in this case, have to make a decision if a relatively small startup firm should be elevated to the highest strategic partnership level, normally reserved for very large firms.

    Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Organizational Structure; Partners and Partnerships; Business Strategy; Technology Industry;


    Iansiti, Marco, and Karim R. Lakhani. "SAP AG: Orchestrating the Ecosystem." Harvard Business School Case 609-069, April 2009. View Details
  34. Threadless: The Business of Community

    Karim R. Lakhani and Zahra Kanji

    Threadless.com, the online, Chicago-based t-shirt company, was not your typical fashion apparel company. The company, run by Jake Nickell, Jacob DeHart, and Jeffrey Kalmikoff, turned the fashion business on its head by enabling anyone to submit designs for t-shirts and asking its community of more than 500,000 members to help select winning designs. Threadless encouraged community members to actively participate by critiquing submitted designs, blogging about their daily lives, posting songs and videos inspired by the designs, and, most important, purchasing t-shirts that have won the weekly design competitions. In 2007, Threadless was well on its way to selling more than a million and a half t-shirts. The success of Threadless has garnered significant media attention, the New York Times and USA's National Public Radio highlighting its unique community-based business model and has piqued the interest of large traditional retailers. Nickell, DeHart, and Kalmikoff were now faced with making a decision about a potentially lucrative offer from a major retailer offering to carry large volumes of select Threadless t-shirts in its retail stores. Should they accept?

    Keywords: Business Model; Business Startups; Innovation and Invention; Product Design; Partners and Partnerships; Social and Collaborative Networks; Apparel and Accessories Industry;


    Lakhani, Karim R., and Zahra Kanji. "Threadless: The Business of Community." Harvard Business School Multimedia/Video Case 608-707, June 2008. View Details
  35. Threadless: The Business of Community (Instructor's Version)

    Karim R. Lakhani and Zahra Kanji

    The instructor version of Threadless includes the Threadless student version multimedia case as well as four additional videos that can be used to enhance class discussion. The first video presents community reaction to the proposal from the large retailer. The next two videos detail the rationale for the final decision and their future plans. The final video contains a discussion about community participation and questions of exploitation.

    Keywords: Debates; Decisions; Strategic Planning; Society; Entertainment and Recreation Industry;


    Lakhani, Karim R., and Zahra Kanji. "Threadless: The Business of Community (Instructor's Version)." Harvard Business School Multimedia/Video Case 608-719, June 2008. View Details
  36. Cambrian House

    Peter A. Coles, Karim R. Lakhani and Andrew P. McAfee

    Cambrian House builds internet-based products and services by relying entirely on its user community for all aspects of its innovation and new product development process. Users suggest ideas for new products and services and also participate in a monthly voting process to select the best ideas. The company is now considering the deployment of a prediction market to deepen user involvement and commitment in its innovation; however, it is not sure if it is an appropriate strategy for its community.

    Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Voting; Technological Innovation; Knowledge Management; Marketing Strategy; Open Source Distribution; Product Development; Strategic Planning; Business and Community Relations; Internet;


    Coles, Peter A., Karim R. Lakhani, and Andrew P. McAfee. "Cambrian House." Harvard Business School Case 608-016, March 2008. View Details
  37. Prediction Markets at Google

    Peter A. Coles, Karim R. Lakhani and Andrew P. McAfee

    In its eight quarters of operation, Google's internally developed prediction market has delivered accurate and decisive predictions about future events of interest to the company. Google must now determine how to increase participation in the market, and how to best use its predictions.

    Keywords: Forecasting and Prediction; Knowledge Sharing; Knowledge Use and Leverage; Market Participation; Information Technology;


    Coles, Peter A., Karim R. Lakhani, and Andrew P. McAfee. "Prediction Markets at Google." Harvard Business School Case 607-088, May 2007. (Revised August 2007.) View Details
  38. Wikipedia (A)

    Karim R. Lakhani and Andrew P. McAfee

    Wikipedia has emerged as a robust model for content production by volunteers working asynchronously on the Internet with a unconventional model for distributed decision making. The "Articles for Deletion" process in Wikipedia provides unique insight into the inner workings of a distributed community. Wikipedia administrators have to decide if an article on "Enterprise 2.0" should be deleted, kept or merged with some other article. The episode illustrates broader issues of IT-enabled community mobilization and engagement in distributed setting.

    Keywords: Information Publishing; Information Management; Internet; Information Technology; Globalization; Service Delivery; Knowledge Sharing; Knowledge Management; Information Industry; Information Technology Industry;


    Lakhani, Karim R., and Andrew P. McAfee. "Wikipedia (A)." Harvard Business School Multimedia/Video Case 607-712, February 2007. (Revised February 2007.) View Details