Designing Corporate Hackathons with a Purpose

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Abstract: In hackathons, small teams work together over a specified period of time to complete a project of interest. Hackathons have become increasingly popular as a means to surface and prototype innovative and creative ideas for products, but their impact often goes beyond product innovation. Based on our empirical studies of 10 hackathons held by scientific communities, a corporation, and universities as well as the review of published literature, we discuss that hackathons can be organized around goals such as enriching social networks, facilitating collaborative learning, and workforce development. We also discuss design choices that can scaffold the organization of hackathons and their trade-offs. Design choices include identifying a suitable mixture of attendee skills, the selection process for projects and teams, and whether to hold a competitive or collaborative event. Hackathons can achieve multiple goals if designed carefully.

Recommended citation: Pe-Than, E.P.P., Nolte, A., Filippova, A., Bird, C., Scallen, S., & Herbsleb, J.D. (2018). Designing Corporate Hackathons with a Purpose. IEEE Software, 36 (1), pp. 15-22.