Corporate Hackathons, How and Why? A multiple case study of motivation, project proposal and selection, goal setting, coordination, and project continuation.

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Abstract: Time-bounded events such as hackathons, data dives, codefests, hack-days, sprints or edit-a-thons have increasingly gained attention from practitioners and researchers. Yet there is a paucity of research on corporate hackathons, which are nearly ubiquitous and present significant organizational, cultural, and managerial challenges. To provide a comprehensive understanding of team processes and broad array of outcomes of corporate hackathons, we conducted a mixed-methods, multiple case study of five teams that participated in a large scale corporate hackathon. Two teams were “pre-existing” teams (PETs) and three were newly-formed “flash” teams (FTs). Our analysis revealed that PETs coordinated almost as if it was just another day at the office while creating innovations within the boundary of their regular work, whereas FTs adopted role-based coordination adapted to the hackathon context while creating innovations beyond the boundary of their regular work. Project sustainability depended on how much effort the team put into finding a home for their projects and whether their project was a good fit with existing products in the organization’s product portfolio. Moreover, hackathon participation had perceived positive effects on participants’ skills, careers, and social networks.

Recommended citation: Pe-Than, E.P.P., Nolte, A., Filippova, A., Bird, C., Scallen, S., and Herbsleb, J.D. (in press). Corporate Hackathons, How and Why? A Multiple Case Study of Motivation, Project Proposal and Selection, Goal Setting, Coordination, and Project Continuation. Human-Computer Interaction.