Problem-solving effort and success in innovation contests: The role of national wealth and national culture

Jesse Bockstedt, Cheryl Druehl, Anant Mishra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Innovation contests allow firms to harness specialized skills and services from globally dispersed participants for solutions to business problems. Such contests provide a rich setting for operations management (OM) scholars to explore problem solving in global labor markets as firms continue to unbundle their innovation value chains. In this study, we examine the implications of specific types of diversity in innovation contests on problem-solving effort and success. First, we conceptualize diversity among contestants in terms of national wealth (measured as gross domestic product per capita (GDPP) adjusted for purchasing power parity) and national culture (measured using the culture dimensions of performance orientation and uncertainty avoidance) and examine how such factors influence problem-solving effort. Next, we examine how differences between contestants and contest holders in terms of the above factors influence contest outcomes. Using data from a popular online innovation contest platform and country-level archival data, we find that contestants from countries with lower levels of GDPP are more likely to exert greater problem-solving effort compared to other contestants. With regard to national culture, we find that performance orientation and uncertainty avoidance have positive and negative effects, respectively, each of which weakens with increasing levels of GDPP. Finally, our analysis provides evidence of homophily effects indicating that contestants who share greater similarities with the contest holder in terms of national wealth and national culture are more likely to be successful in a contest. We discuss the implications of the study's findings for contest holders and platform owners who organize innovation contests, and for emerging research on innovation contests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-200
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Operations Management
StatePublished - May 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier B.V.


  • Crowdsourcing
  • Econometric analysis
  • Innovation contests
  • National culture
  • Problem solving


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