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Challenging the Stage-Gate Model in Crowdsourcing: The Case of Fiat Mio in Brazil

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Technology Innovation Management Review September 2014
28
www.timreview.ca
Challenging the Stage-Gate Model in
Crowdsourcing: The Case of Fiat Mio in Brazil
Fabio Prado Saldanha, Patrick Cohendet, and Marlei Pozzebon
Introduction
Imagine that you are a carmaker and you want to mod-
ernize your practices in product innovation. Despite all
your technological progress in production, your integra-
tion of key systems, and your adoption of a state-of-the-
art management style, the way you produce cars is sim-
ilar to other industries: you create a first version, test it,
gather feedback, produce a new version, test it again…
repeating this cycle until finally you are ready to pro-
duce and sell the finished version to your customers.
Essentially, this series of iterations or loops of building,
testing, gathering feedback, and revising (Cooper, 2006)
is still used in the majority of industries. However, what
might happen if you invite your customers to co-create
a car with your engineers and designers over the whole
process? Would the pace still remain the same? How
could you motivate and engage people in this task? Put
simply, what is the best way to work with the crowd to
innovate?
Starting from a single idea to collaboratively create a
car with Internet users – Fiat foresaw a favourable cir-
cumstance to achieve two goals: create a product and
engage consumers. To emphasize that consumers
would feel that the product belonged to them, Fiat
named the project Fiat Mio, or “My Fiat” in English.
The Fiat Mio project was not a competition to find the
best idea or reward a winner. Right from the beginning
of the project, Fiat executives felt it was improbable
that lay people could come up with an idea that would
surpass the quality of ideas from the experts. Nonethe-
less, Fiat invited consumers and their first-hand experi-
ence with cars in the hopes that they might bring novel
ideas that might never have occurred to design and pro-
duction experts.
In the form of "the crowd", consumers are being recog-
nized as a new source of innovation, as evidenced by
the recent crowdsourcing efforts of diverse companies
and brands, such as Boeing, Eli Lilly, Du Pont, Procter &
A large crowdsourcing project managed by Fiat Brazil involved more than 17,000
participants from 160 different nationalities over 15 months. Fiat promoted a dialogue with
an enthusiastic community by linking car experts, professionals, and lay people, through
which more than 11,000 ideas were selected and developed to create a concept car using a
collaborative process. Through an in-depth case study of this crowdsourcing project, we
propose a new approach – the accordion model – which uses project management to help
maximize the beneficial inputs of the crowd. Whereas the stage-gate process relies on a
“funnel” of articulated sequences expressing a progressive reduction from an initial stock of
potential ideas and concepts, in this article, we suggest that crowdsourced projects are
more akin to a process that articulates a succession of broadening and funnelling periods
that represent information requests and deliveries. We use the metaphorical terminology of
“the sacred and the profane” to illustrate the interaction of sophisticated and ordinary ideas
between the “sacred” experts from Fiat and the “profane” lay people associated with the
project. Lessons learned from the Fiat Mio case suggest how both organizations and
Internet users may benefit from successful crowdsourcing projects.
There is no kind of problem that baffles one or a dozen experts
that cannot be solved at once by a million minds that are given
a chance simultaneously to tackle a problem.
Marshall McLuhan
Philosopher of Communication Theory
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Challenging the Stage-Gate Model in Crowdsourcing: The Case of Fiat Mio in Brazil
Fabio Prado Saldanha, Patrick Cohendet, and Marlei Pozzebon
Gamble, Doritos, and Kit Kat (Huston & Sakkab, 2006;
Brabham, 2008; Lafferty, 2012). Through crowdsourcing
campaigns, consumers can act as co-creators by bring-
ing their knowledge, skills, and willingness to learn and
experiment while engaging in an active dialogue with
the sponsor companies (Prahalad & Ramaswamy,
2000). In the crowdsourcing literature, very few studies,
if any, have examined a large-scale project in the auto-
mobile industry or have detailed different phases of the
process exploring how different levels of participation
are demanded from the crowd. There is also a lack of ex-
amples on how firms adopt mechanisms to provide
purposeful content to the crowd to enrich their contri-
bution to the process and, on the other hand, how or-
ganizations may overcome cognitive fixation, meaning
the tendency for experts to fixate on past examples or
success, leading to less innovative ideas (Smith et al.,
2013; Le Masson et al, 2006).
In this article, we examine the crowdsourcing process
used by Fiat Brazil in the development of a prototype
concept car. After a brief description of our methodo-
logy and the case itself, we present and analyze our res-
ults using the metaphorical terminology of “the sacred
and the profane” to illustrate the role played by experts
and lay people during a crowdsourcing project. Despite
the fact that the product created would never be com-
mercialized, the process itself is more relevant than its
final result, as is demonstrated by the accordion model,
the new approach to manage large crowdsourcing pro-
jects, which we propose based on our analysis of this
case. We conclude by discussing the implications of the
accordion model for Fiat Brazil and other companies
engaging in crowdsourcing projects.
Our Case Study Methodology
Our methodological approach is based on an in-depth
case study that is both intrinsic and instrumental. It is
intrinsic because the case itself – the Fiat Mio project –
deserves a deep investigation due to its originality and
its pioneering characteristic in the automotive industry,
particularly in South America. It is instrumental be-
cause the analysis of this particular case will allow us to
advance the understanding of a broader issue: the man-
agement of large-scale projects involving a crowd of In-
ternet users (Stake, 1998).
The data collection involved two main sources. First,
we examined a large number of written materials, par-
ticularly those posted on the website of the Fiat Mio
project and a book published by Fiat, but also other
books, academic manuscripts, and articles in the press.
Second, we performed a number of interviews with
three major participants in the project. These respond-
ents represent the two main branches of the process:
the organization that created the project and the advert-
isement agency that conceived three phases of the pro-
ject: mapping scenarios, concept ideas, and concept
design. On a daily basis, the agency oversaw the traffic
of data on the web-based platform and was also the link
connecting Internet users with Fiat and vice versa.
The data analysis was mainly based on visual mapping
techniques (Langley, 1999). We represented the differ-
ent phases visually, with components and mechanisms
identified in a processual-based logic.
The Fiat Mio Crowdsourcing Project
Fiat Brazil started to sow the seeds of crowdsourcing
and open innovation in 2006, when the organization
created a "tournament of ideas" in cyberspace. As part
of their celebration of a 30-year presence in Brazil, Fiat
began a discussion on its website, inviting people to
freely imagine the future by posting photos, videos,
comments, etc. The initial aim was to promote a mar-
keting survey, however, as popular interest surged, it
was transformed into a marketing campaign. In the
same year, coincidentally, Fiat presented its first Fiat
Concept Car (FCC I), which was developed by the
design team of the Fiat Style Center. Two years later,
the second prototype (FCC II) was presented at the
2008 edition of the Sao Paulo Auto Show. The Fiat Mio
project was intended to create the third prototype,
which Fiat Brazil would exhibit at the 2010 Sao Paulo
Auto Show, as described in this video:
tinyurl.com/pt7ll9a
.
The project began with the simple idea of using a
crowdsourcing approach to design a new concept car,
and it progressed through five additional phases, which
ended with the launch of the prototype. Once enough
content was generated and discussed by the crowd, the
firm withdrew to treat the data internally, afterwards re-
leasing a new briefing and a new challenge, to be col-
lectively and continuously solved.
Phase 1: Original Idea
Seeking inspiration to build the third Fiat Concept Car
(FCC III), one of the Fiat executives reported learning
that automobile manufacturers tend not to respond to
consumers’ real needs because some of their demands
are lost during the long time lag between marketing sur-
veys and the final launch of the product. Meanwhile,
one executive from AgênciaClick Isobar, Fiat’s advert-
ising agency in Brazil, sent copies of the book What
Would Google Do? (Jarvis, 2009) to certain Fiat execut-
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Challenging the Stage-Gate Model in Crowdsourcing: The Case of Fiat Mio in Brazil
Fabio Prado Saldanha, Patrick Cohendet, and Marlei Pozzebon
ives to stimulate their thinking about enhancing Fiat’s
approach to innovation based on the lessons from
Google.
Intrigued by how such new approaches could influence
the way carmakers produce cars, this Fiat executive had
an insight: to develop a collaborative co-creation pro-
cess for a concept car where, through a blog on the Fiat
website, people who wanted to participate could share
their ideas. The idea of this project was discussed
among other Fiat executives, and an opportunity for
Fiat to enhance its communication approach with its
clients was also identified. As a result, the advertising
agency was given the task of developing a communica-
tion plan for this co-creating process addressed to stim-
ulate the participation of Internet users worldwide. The
agency would also help to guide the flow by giving the
crowd references, through images and texts, regarding
what was feasible. The advertising agency came up with
a proposal, which divided the project into three main
phases: Mapping Scenarios, Concept Ideas, and
Concept Design. Based on our observations of the over-
all process, we identified two additional phases: Model-
ling and Launch.
Phase 2: Mapping Scenarios
One of the main goals of this initial stage was to gener-
ate a key question that would steer discussions on the
open platform and that would later be available on the
Fiat website for crowdsourcing participants. Fiat out-
sourced research to six automotive journalists to invest-
igate “the car of the future and the future of cars”. Their
mission was to interview specialists and map future
trends and scenarios. The result of their work was an ex-
tensive report that was later summarized and presented
during a workshop organized by Fiat.
Developing the open question was the final part of the
Mapping Scenarios phase; when the question was pos-
ted on the Fiat Mio platform on August 2009, the crowd-
sourcing project was officially online. Fiat and the
advertising agency released the following open ques-
tion on the platform to guide customers’ discussions:
“In the future we are building, what must a car
have in order for me to call it mine, without ceasing to
serve other people?”
Phase 3: Concept Ideas
With the release of the Fiat Mio collaborative platform,
the aim was to stimulate Internet users worldwide to
participate by adding their ideas to the project, as well
as to comment and vote for the ideas of others. Posts
were published three times a day, and incentive re-
minders were sent by Twitter inviting followers to ac-
cess the Fiat Mio website and collaborate. Originally,
Fiat expected to receive about 500 comments, but in-
stead they received 7,078.
Fiat's advertising agency managed the web-based plat-
form, and a single brand content editor condensed all
the information received from the crowd. In tandem
with Fiat engineers and designers, this editor classified
and segmented the information so that Fiat could un-
derstand the desires expressed by users. This editor ac-
ted to some extent as a bridge, connecting the
professionals and lay people – “the sacred and the pro-
fane”. All of the content was filtered by the editor and,
in conjunction with designers and engineers from Fiat,
21 topics of discussion were distilled (e.g., cabin space,
fuel efficiency, noise cancelling, onboard biometrics)
and they also served as the skeleton to be fleshed out
during the next phase.
Phase 4: Concept Design
After these 21 topics had been identified, they were pos-
ted on the website for further consideration by Internet
users who were participating in the project and also
others who could, at any time, become part of this com-
munity. Each topic was open to individual discussion
for a period of 10 days to clarify the path that designers
and engineers should take. Following each question,
there was explanatory text that was often accompanied
by a secondary question, as the following example illus-
trates:
“Cabin and passengers: How many seats and
doors should the Mio have? (To respond to these subjects
and define the space specifications in the Mio, one must
consider the following question: is the most common
configuration of four to five passengers the ideal one, or
would it be better to try something smaller, up to two
passengers? What vehicle is missing among the wide
range of options available on the market today?)”
To ensure that the suggestions would be realistic, Fiat
provided 281 posts over the course of the project, in-
cluding reference images and texts regarding what
could be inspiring and feasible. The brand content edit-
or guided the production of this content in collabora-
tion with Fiat's designers and engineers. With the
purpose of giving life to a prototype and in line with the
suggestions submitted, the designers at Fiat started to
research images, concepts, and references that would
serve to produce the first sketches. They found that two
concepts summarized Internet users’ aspirations: i) an
organic and winding style and ii) a defined, squarish
design. These orientations generated different draw-
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Challenging the Stage-Gate Model in Crowdsourcing: The Case of Fiat Mio in Brazil
Fabio Prado Saldanha, Patrick Cohendet, and Marlei Pozzebon
ings, which were grouped under two different lines: the
Sense Line (i.e., organic) and the Precision Line (i.e.,
minimalistic). Internet users were asked to answer pre-
cise questions and then vote for their preferred option.
They were also asked to indicate their preferences for
proposed new technologies and design details.
Phase 5: Modelling
The dialogue did not stop when Fiat's designers began
to build the prototype. Throughout the modelling
phase, Fiat continued to encourage participation in the
platform until the designers judged that they had
enough elements to begin modelling the prototype. Fiat
designers interpreted suggestions given by the crowd
and presented them with options on which to vote and
comment. Again, once the designers and engineers
were satisfied with the features arrived at by votes and
comments, they were then able to move on to another
phase. The website announced:
“The unveiling of our collaborative concept car
is right around the corner. Nonetheless, your participa-
tion will continue up to that moment. Now we want to
show you 4 paint settings for the FCC-III to look even bet-
ter when it premieres at the Auto Show. Which one do
you prefer?”
Phase 6: Launch
The prototype took six months to build and it was de-
livered in time to be exhibited at the Sao Paulo Auto
Show. Invitations were sent through Twitter, and an in-
tensive advertising campaign encouraged participants
– “the people who made it” – to see the result in person
at the showroom. Fiat Cars named the crowdsourcing
participants “Fiat Mio Creators”. In December 2010,
hundreds of Fiat Mio Creators stood beside the mock-
up at the auto show, and some of them gave testimoni-
als about their participation, as shown in the following
video:
tinyurl.com/pvmzepj
.
Following the launch, a Fiat executive we interviewed
affirmed that the project has changed the way everyone
at Fiat works. Another executive remarked that “the pro-
ject sent the whole automotive industry to the “psycho-
analysis couch” (Silva, 2010), while another Fiat
executive we interviewed said that, in Fiat Brazil, every-
one agrees that “surprising innovations come from the
periphery; as they are embodied, an innovative project
then moves towards more central positioning in the or-
ganization”. Fiat Mio was initially designed to be a tiny
project that would involve only a handful of car aficion-
ados around the factory, but it quickly took shape and
moved from a peripheral to central concern at Fiat.
Fiat Brazil thus reinforced its connection with its cus-
tomers and hopefully gained new ones. The Fiat Mio
platform continued to accept suggestions and com-
ments by extending the period for receiving data from
its consumers about their likes, preferences, habits,
etc., for future use. However, both Fiat and the crowd-
sourcing participants were aware that the concept car
might not be built as a mass-market vehicle, or might
not even be commercialized. Thus, the prototype was
regarded mostly as a map of consumer wishes, and
some of the new features could ultimately be integrated
into new cars available for purchase. As one Fiat execut-
ive said: "There are small things that don't cost much
and bring great satisfaction to consumers, but haven't
been given much attention. A lot of their ideas will end
up going into our cars" (Wentz, 2009).
Analysis and Findings
Figure 1 illustrates the six phases of the Fiat Mio pro-
ject, the interaction between Fiat and Internet users, as
well as the interaction between Internet users over the
process. In phase 1, the original idea was generated,
and the project progressed through the other phases
until the completion and the launch of the prototype.
The central, accordion-like shape presents broad and
narrow areas that represent moments where Fiat re-
quested and received ideas from the crowd. The shape
of the figure shrinks at intervals, representing moments
where Fiat digested the ideas received and then re-
leased another challenge to the crowd. For instance, at
the end of the Mapping Scenarios phase, the team
came up with an open question, leading to the Concept
Ideas phase.
The dashed lines bypassing the shape represent the per-
meable boundaries separating the organization from its
market environment. The illustrated faces represent
crowdsourcing participants that received content from
the firm videos, references, and inspirational posts
which helped them to provide more constructive ideas
to the process and to comment and vote on the ideas of
others.
While analyzing the phases of the Fiat Mio project, we
identified that this succession of broad and narrow
areas, or opening and closing periods, inspired us to
give it the label of the "the accordion model". The fun-
nelling process is non-linear: an initial idea or briefing
is released to the crowd, and the crowd responds to this
challenge, leading to an expanding phase of idea gener-
ation. That process may reveal new trends or direc-
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Challenging the Stage-Gate Model in Crowdsourcing: The Case of Fiat Mio in Brazil
Fabio Prado Saldanha, Patrick Cohendet, and Marlei Pozzebon
tions, which narrows towards another briefing or chal-
lenge to be tackled again by the crowd, and so forth. In
short, when triggered by provoking questions and in-
spiring content, the crowd provides ideas to the pro-
cess. The organization thus analyses the ideas provided
by the crowd. After one or more iteration, if the organ-
ization judges that there is enough content, the project
can move to another phase. Otherwise, another idea-
generation phase may be triggered to generate more
content. This opening-and-closing, or "accordion",
process progresses until the production of the proto-
type.
The accordion model differs from the classic stage-gate
model (Cooper, 1990) and the open innovation process
(Chesbrough, 2003) where, as time progresses, both
praxis progressively converges until the product is
achieved. Whereas the stage-gate process relies on a
linear and convergent “funnel” of articulated se-
quences expressing a progressive reduction from an
initial stock of potential ideas and concepts, the accor-
dion model relies on alternating periods of broadening
and funnelling, where ideas are collectively generated,
commented on, and selected. The difference between
this linear funnelling of the stage-gate model versus
the non-linear funnelling of the accordion model relies
on the idea-generation mindset: in the stage-gate mod-
el, ideas are progressively eliminated, but in the accor-
dion model, ideas are constantly and collectively
multiplied. As a result, by observing the Fiat Mio pro-
ject, we have identified some key characteristics that
distinguish the accordion model from the classical
stage-gate process: (1) the management of a lively com-
munity of users that enables (2) a rich dialogue
between the “sacred” high qualified personnel of Fiat
and the “profane” crowdsourcing participants who
may ultimately be potential consumers.
1. Managing a lively community of users
Regarding the inspirational posts provided by Fiat, by
supplying the crowd with references and purposeful
content, Fiat’s advertising agency was attempting to
both foment participation and improve the knowledge
of crowdsourcing participants, which would be useful
to enrich the discussion and receive more realistic
ideas. Consequently, the crowd was prompted to
provide better solutions related to the problem briefed
by Fiat. Plus, we observed that, by doing this, Fiat filled
the three key conditions that allow the emergence of
groups (Sartre, 1985) or self-selected virtual communit-
ies: i) the interdependence between members, or web
users, because participants were stimulated to see,
comment, and vote the ideas of the others; ii) the
awareness of a common goal, the Fiat Mio; and iii) the
organization of crowd interaction, which Fiat guided
and nurtured in cyberspace. This social interaction
also met the needs of Internet users searching for net-
working and eventual recognition of the value of their
ideas. For organizations, the act of attracting, gather-
ing, and stimulating communities of users, lay people,
Figure 1. The accordion model showing the phases of the Fiat Mio crowdsourcing project
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Challenging the Stage-Gate Model in Crowdsourcing: The Case of Fiat Mio in Brazil
Fabio Prado Saldanha, Patrick Cohendet, and Marlei Pozzebon
consumers, and eventually some experts from the
crowd through a well-managed social interaction plan
could be a successful tool for marketing and customer
relationship management in the long run. Ultimately,
we could consider that a successful crowdsourcing pro-
ject would help to identify emerging groups of individu-
als from the collective by engaging them into a
common goal, thereby bringing both experts and non-
experts together.
2. Promoting a rich dialogue between the “sacred and
profane”
This interaction between “the sacred” (Fiat designers
and engineers) and “the profane” (crowdsourcing parti-
cipants, lay people) embodied by the Fiat Mio was con-
structive for many reasons. First, the investment made
in providing relevant content provided benefits be-
cause it helped to improve customers’ subjectivity and
to reduce cognitive fixation, or “something that blocks
or impedes the successful completion of various types
of cognitive operations, such as those involved in re-
membering, solving problems and generating creative
ideas” (Smith, 2003), that expert professionals are likely
to undergo (Bayus, 2013). On the other hand, the indi-
viduals from the crowd benefited, because the eventu-
ality of “working outside” the company helped some of
them to develop a network and obtain some visibility
according to the success of their ideas.
Second, regarding information exchange, by providing
clear, relevant, and purposeful content to crowd-
sourcing participants, the organization optimized the
quality of the ideas provided by the crowd in terms of
feasibility and innovativeness, therefore, making the
ideas useful for experts. By both posting a challenge
and providing inspiring content related to the solution
desired, the crowd provided, with their ideas, free asso-
ciation of uses and applications that appeared innovat-
ive and original for the “sacred” experts’ eyes.
And, finally, crowdsourcing also destabilized and
brought a slight amount of cognitive dissonance into
Fiat Brazil, which, according to one executive inter-
viewed, “it was also important for us to understand
changings and trends in the market environment”.
This interaction between “the sacred and the profane”
also favoured the dialogue between sophisticated and
ordinary ideas that, for Fiat, helped them to rethink
some of their own organizational routines and
paradigms.
Lessons Learned
For executives of Fiat Brazil, the project brought valu-
able lessons:
1. An external collaboration process cannot function ef-
fectively without an organizational willingness to ad-
apt. The collaborative process established outside the
company required an in-house collaborative mindset
across several departments, such as R&D, design, en-
gineering, marketing, and communication. Every
team was eager to hear what Internet users had to say.
2. The need to leave out some good ideas was a source of
frustration for both the organization and the crowd-
sourcing participants. Many of the ideas were mutu-
ally exclusive; it would have been impossible to act on
every good suggestion. In projects with high levels of
participation and many good suggestions, many con-
tributors can become frustrated if their ideas are not
included.
3. The product may not be the real outcome. Some exec-
utives realized that the prototype itself was almost not
relevant. Instead, it represented the outcome of a
lively discussion, a relationship built between Fiat and
its consumers that, ultimately, made Fiat learn how to
better communicate with people, by also assimilating
their knowledge. Perhaps the most meaningful legacy
of the Fiat Mio is the communication platform built
between Fiat and consumers and the large amount of
data that Fiat collected from the crowd. The organiza-
tion also obtained synapses, links, solutions, and new
ways of working that they never would have de-
veloped on their own.
4. The Fiat Mio project gave the company new perspect-
ives on problems and caused them to rethink some of
their paradigms. According to a Fiat executive: “When
we have simplistic and naive points of view about
something that has become deeply technical and
complex for us, we have undergone a kind of discon-
nection; and I think this is a good thing.” On the other
hand, Internet users were enthusiastic about co-creat-
ing a crowdsourced car. As one participant said:
“That’s it! It’s Mio! If the idea came from you, if you
have participated, even from the outside, you feel like
you’re in the factory working.” Many of the parti-
cipants also became briefly well-known as being the
owner of a specific idea materialized in the prototype.
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About the Authors
Fabio Prado Saldanha has a degree in Communica
-
tions from Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado, in
São Paulo, Brazil. He has worked with several organiza
-
tions in the telecommunications, entertainment, and
culture industries, both in the public and private sec
-
tors. He is interested in the economic, social, and cul
-
tural issues of contemporary society. He has a Master
of Management degree in Cultural Enterprises from
HEC Montréal, in Canada. Currently, he is a Research
Assistant at MOSAIC HEC Montréal where he works
on projects concerning the study of economic impacts
and the management of innovation and creativity,
from different fields, such as the automobile and
space industries.
Patrick Cohendet is Professor at HEC Montréal busi
-
ness school in Canada and belongs to the Internation
-
al Business Department, which is in charge of all the
international campuses of HEC Montréal, including a
campus in Vietnam. He was Director of the Interna
-
tional Business Department from 2007 to 2008. His re
-
search interests include the economics of innovation,
technology management, knowledge management,
the theory of the firm, and the economics of creativity.
He is the author or co-author of 15 books and over 50
articles in refereed journals. He has conducted a series
of economic studies on innovation, including meas
-
urement of spin-offs, evaluation of the economic bene
-
fits of R&D projects, and evaluation of technology
transfer. These studies were carried out by his re
-
search laboratory, BETA, at the University of Stras
-
bourg, for different European and North American
organizations, such as the European Commission, the
European Union, the Organisation for Economic Co-
operation and Development, the Council of Europe,
and the Canadian Space Agency.
Marlei Pozzebon is Professor at HEC Montréal and As
-
sociate Professor at Fundação Getúlio Vargas, Escola
de Administração do Estado de São Paulo (FGV-
EAESP), Brazil. Her research interests include social in
-
novation, social inclusion, citizen creativity, local and
sustainable development ,and global-local dialogue.
These interests are linked to the possibilities of social
change using practice-based theoretical lenses and
qualitative research methods. Theoretically, structura
-
tion theory, different forms of social constructivism,
and critical theory are additional interests. She has
published her work in various peer-reviewed journals.
Challenging the Stage-Gate Model in Crowdsourcing: The Case of Fiat Mio in Brazil
Fabio Prado Saldanha, Patrick Cohendet, and Marlei Pozzebon
Conclusion
In this article, we aimed to present how Fiat managed a
large crowdsourcing project to create a concept car and
also filled a gap in the crowdsourcing literature, be-
cause very few studies, if any, have reported a large
crowdsourcing project in the automobile industry. We
presented the accordion model, which revisits the clas-
sical stage-gate model by proposing a non-linear fun-
nelling development. This new approach includes the
presence of a lively community of users, which enables
a rich and iterative dialogue between experts and lay
people, the “the sacred and the profane”. As with any
emergent phenomenon, other processes and character-
istics of crowdsourcing are still barely known, which
provides a vast field of subjects for further research.
From the lessons learned by the case, future research
should focus on how the organizational structure may
change prior to or after a crowdsourcing project. For in-
stance, a need to engage knowledge brokers may arise,
as was seen in this case when Fiat engaged its advert-
ising agency into the core of the project. It would also
be relevant to understand how to take advantage of the
likelihood that some experts may emerge from the
crowd: how crowdsourcing could be eventually seen as
a recruitment tool. As each phase is constrained and en-
abled by choices that were made in a previous phase, it
would be equally important to further investigate how
to deal with crowd frustration before it may turn
against the organization, which may trigger the so-
called crowdslapping effect (Brabham 2009) if many
ideas are not used. Finally, another field of research
should investigate how to quantify the “legacy” of a
crowdsourcing project in terms of the amount of the
consumer data collected for the future development of
products or services. We believe that the accordion
model is indeed adjustable and applicable to other sec-
tors of the industry, given that its phases demonstrate
the steps to follow in a crowdsourcing project. Future
research could also validate empirically the application
of this proposed model.
Acknowledgements
This study was developed thanks to the support of the
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
through the Ideas Generation Project, and by the Cana-
dian Space Agency through the Open Innovation Re-
search Project.
Technology Innovation Management Review September 2014
35
www.timreview.ca
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Challenging the Stage-Gate Model in Crowdsourcing: The Case of Fiat Mio in Brazil
Fabio Prado Saldanha, Patrick Cohendet, and Marlei Pozzebon
Citation: Saldanha, F. P., Cohendet, P., & Pozzebon, M. 2014. Challenging the Stage-Gate Model in Crowdsourcing: The Case of Fiat Mio in
Brazil. Technology Innovation Management Review, 4(9): 28–35. http://timreview.ca/article/829
Keywords: open innovation, crowdsourcing, project management, marketing, automobile industry, Fiat, Brazil
... The reluctance to embrace external sources of knowledge due to a fear of leaking proprietary information, loss of managerial power, and ceding control over firm activities , for example, has been shown to limit a company's ability to fully utilize online communities as a tool for R&D [141]. The studies reviewed investigated a variety of different practices for involving end users in the innovation process including toolkits for user innovation [98,[143][144][145], product platforms [146], open source software communities [137,147,148], and idea and design competitions [96,115,122,123,135]. Studies focused both on autonomous user-led [46,149] as well as firmsponsored online user communities [47,150] . One study aimed at classifying practices according to their focus, namely technology-oriented and product-oriented practices [151]. ...
... Main points of criticism included that the number of ideas acquired is often low compared to the number of ideas submitted and that great effort and resources are needed to sustain an open innovation community [177] . Studies also reported on outcomes of online user innovation initiatives such as firms' innovation effectiveness [178], diversification or extension of product portfolio [165,179,180], reduced time to product release [125], improved customer-relations and increased customer-sensing and responding capability [150,181], and outcomes related to brand strength [59,182]. Findings further indicate that whether or not an open innovation community can be successful in generating innovative and profitable ideas that ultimately lead to direct and indirect market outcomes, depended on numerous factors such as the respective industry, company characteristics, managerial attitudes, and corporate strategy [101,163]. ...
... Before investing in an online platform, it is, first of all, important to consider the significant amount of resources required to initiate, maintain and harness an open innovation community [106,138]. Secondly, our findings suggest that to define and agree on goals and expectations of an online user innovation initiative, it is crucial to get buy-in from all the key stakeholders involved in or affected by the process [43,51,150,189] . Transferring these points to the healthcare context we foresee challenges arising particularly from a) the heterogeneity of the healthcare setting in terms of the different actors with their diverse rationales [190][191][192][193][194][195], b) the dominance of the top-down, paternalistic approach to care [196][197][198] , and c) the fact that evidence on successful online user innovation initiatives in healthcare is still scarce [199]. ...
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