Department of Management

Michela Beretta

Crisis Innovation: Leveraging Virtual Hackathons for Rapid Ideation

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Tomoko Yokoi, IMD Business School, Switzerland
  • Nikolaus Obwegeser, Bern University of Applied Sciences
  • ,
  • Michela Beretta

The COVID-19 crisis brought about an unprecedented wave of interest into rapid ideation and innovation. Among others, the pandemic triggered a series of collaborative innovation events-so-called hackathons-to leverage the power of the crowd for crisis response. In contrast to earlier hackathons, these events are different in their speed of mobilization, global scale, and their fully virtual nature with organizers and teams being geographically dispersed. Analyzing this new empirical phenomenon, we characterize COVID-19 hackathons against other forms of innovation crowdsourcing and describe challenges and best practices in the areas of people management, session management, technology, and knowledge management. Based on our empirical findings, we develop a conceptual framework that emphasizes the importance of managing virtual crisis hackathons as the integrated sum of its different parts. Empirical evidence is presented to demonstrate how open innovation efforts such as hackathons can be leveraged for crisis management and more generally for ideation activities in increasingly remote working environments. This article contributes to crowdsourcing research by highlighting key differences of virtual hackathons from the traditional crowdsourcing approaches and hackathons investigated by prior research. Moreover, we affirm the value of mobilizing knowledge from different sources, particularly from a broad spectrum of civil society.

Original languageEnglish
JournalI E E E Transactions on Engineering Management
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:

    Research areas

  • COMPETITION, CONTESTS, COVID-19, Collaboration, Crowdsourcing, Interviews, MANAGEMENT, Pandemics, STUDENTS, SYSTEMS, Technological innovation, Tools, crisis, crowdsourcing, hackathon, ideation, innovation

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