Conference PaperPDF Available

Does it matter why we hack? - Exploring the impact of goal alignment in hackathons

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Time-bounded events such as hackathons have become increasingly popular in recent years. During these events participants typically form teams, exercise fast prototype development, challenge themselves to innovate, practice new skills, collaborate with diverse team members, and compete against other teams. Hackathon organizers have a certain vision in mind about which outcome they would like to achieve and design the event based on this vision. Participants on the other hand do not necessarily share the same vision and come with their own goals and aspirations. While work in related fields suggests that it is important for goals of organizers and participants to align in order to achieve them this might be different in hackathons due to their unique setup. Drawing from literature we identified potential goals of organizers and participants and conducted a case study of three hackathons focusing on the alignment of goals between organizers and participants. Our findings indicate that the goals of organizers and participants did not align in all cases, that goal awareness on the part of the organizers appears may have a stronger impact on goal achievement and that hackathons appear to have inherent characteristics that can materialize even when not planned for.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Medina Angarita, M. A.; Nolte, A. (2019): Does it matter why we hack? Exploring the impact of
goal alignment in hackathons. In: Proceedings of the 17th European Conference on Computer-
Supported Cooperative Work: The International Venue on Practice-centred Computing and the
Design of Cooperation Technologies - Exploratory Papers, Reports of the European Society for
Socially Embedded Technologies (ISSN 2510-2591), DOI: 10.18420/ecscw2019_ep01
Copyright 2018 held by Authors, DOI: 10.18420/ecscw2019_ep01
Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted
without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that
copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy
otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, or to redistribute to lists, contact the Authors.
Does it matter why we hack?
Exploring the impact of goal alignment
in hackathons
Maria Angelica Medina Angarita1, Alexander Nolte1,2
University of Tartu1, Carnegie Mellon University2
{maria.medina, alexander.nolte}@ut.ee
Abstract. Time-bounded events such as hackathons have become increasingly popular in
recent years. During these events participants typically form teams, exercise fast prototype
development, challenge themselves to innovate, practice new skills, collaborate with
diverse team members, and compete against other teams. Hackathon organizers have a
certain vision in mind about which outcome they would like to achieve and design the event
based on this vision. Participants on the other hand do not necessarily share the same
vision and come with their own goals and aspirations. While work in related fields suggests
that it is important for goals of organizers and participants to align in order to achieve them
this might be different in hackathons due to their unique setup. Drawing from literature we
identified potential goals of organizers and participants and conducted a case study of
three hackathons focusing on the alignment of goals between organizers and participants.
Our findings indicate that the goals of organizers and participants did not align in all cases,
that goal awareness on the part of the organizers appears may have a stronger impact on
goal achievement and that hackathons appear to have inherent characteristics that can
materialize even when not planned for.
Introduction
Hackathons are time-bounded events during which participants gather in teams and
attempt to complete a project of interest to them (Pe-Than et al., 2019). Originating
from coding competitions in the early 2000s, such events have garnered increased
interest from both practitioners and researchers as evident by the large number of
2
global events taking place every weekend
1
and the emergence of academic events
focusing on the topic (Pe-Than et al., 2018). This increase in interest has led
hackathons to proliferated into various domains ranging from corporations
conducting internal hackathons (Nolte et al., 2018) and higher education
institutions (Kienzler and Fontanesi, 2017) to civic engagement groups (Hartmann
et al., 2018; Henderson, 2015) and (online) communities (Angelidis et al., 2016).
Within those domains, individuals organize hackathons with different goals in mind
such as public engagement to raise awareness and advocacy (Taylor and Clarke,
2018), tackling civic and environmental issues (Baccarne et al., 2014; Porter et al.,
2017), fostering innovation (Briscoe and Mulligan, 2014), creating technology
(Stoltzfus et al., 2017), expanding or creating networks of interested individuals
(Möller et al., 2014), spreading knowledge about technologies (Nandi and
Mandernach, 2016) and others.
The aforementioned goals are often communicated to potentially interested
individuals prior to the hackathon in the form of marketing material which contains
a short summary of the overall theme of the hackathon as well as core
organizational details such as place and time. More detailed information is typically
delivered in the form of an introductory presentation at the event including “an
overview of the event, any rules and regulations, and themes and goals (Decker
et al., 2015).
The reasons for participants to go to a hackathon, however, do not necessarily
match those of the organizers. While participants might share similar goals such as
learning, inducing social change, building a product and finding a team to work
with, they sometimes also participate in hackathons for glory, free pizza, finding
employment and winning prices (Briscoe and Mulligan, 2014). In the context of
game jams for example, fun is a key reasons for (re-)attendance (Arya et al., 2013).
This points towards a potential disparity between the goals of organizers and
participants that has not been investigated in depth in existing work on hackathons.
We address this gap by asking the following research question:
RQ1: How do the goals of hackathon organizers and participants align?
Moreover, it is not clear whether it is inevitably necessary for goals of organizers
and participants to be aligned in order for both groups to achieve them and to
perceive a hackathon as a satisfying experience. There are hints towards the
necessity of goals alignment in the work conducted by Hou and Wang (2017) in
the context of a civic data hackathon. They found tension between two intertwined
goals: helping with data driven work and learning with the purpose of getting
involved in the work of NPOs. Conflicts in this case were resolved by brokers.
Literature on project management also suggests that goal alignment is important
1
Hackathons organized by the largest hackathon league alone register more than 65.000 students among more
than 200 events each year (MLH, https://mlh.io/about)
3
for project success (Skulmoski and Hartman, 1999) and that goal alignment enables
the achievement of performance outcomes (Stephen and Coote, 2007). Similarly,
work in the context of work groups suggests that “a basic coordination problem in
the management of groups is to increase alignment of personal goals with the group
goals” (Zhang and Chiu, 2012), pointing out that it is important for individuals to
share their goals with their group and achieve goal alignment to succeed.
Correspondingly, goal misalignment has been found to cause conflict within groups
in the context of joint software reviews where issue resolution can be affected by
differences between goals of different reviewers (Kingston et al., 2000). These
contexts however are considerably different from hackathons in that work groups
members are bound by contracts and common social norms while this is not the
case in hackathons where participants are not necessarily familiar with each other
before the event. In addition, hackathons might have inherent characteristics that
might foster certain goals simply due to the format, such as networking as pointed
out by Drouhard et al. (2016). To further investigate this aspect, we will also ask
the following research question:
RQ2: How does goal alignment influence goal achievement at hackathons?
In order to answer these two research questions, we conducted a qualitative case
study covering three hackathons. Our results indicate that organizers and
participants of the hackathons we studied shared some common goals such as
networking and learning. Digging deeper, however, we found that the specifics of
these goals to be different between organizers and participants e.g. related to being
interested in learning different skills. We also found indication that goal alignment
was not necessarily a prerequisite for goal achievement, but instead, goal awareness
could improve goal achievement. We also found indications for the hackathon
format having inherent characteristics which can contribute to the achievement of
certain goals without explicit planning.
Hackathon goals
There are a number of reasons why individuals organize and participate in
hackathons as pointed out in the introduction. Based on a review of relevant
literature in IEEE Explorer, ACM Digital Library and Semantic Scholar, we
developed a coding scheme that covers goals for hackathons in various contexts
(c.f. Table 1 for an overview). These goals can be roughly divided into professional
(A) and personal goals (B). We consider goals as professional when they can
directly influence the career of an individual such as learning a specific skill this
individual can use during her/his everyday work. In addition to the goals we
identified from related work we discovered additional goals during our analysis.
We will discuss them together in the following.
4
One goal commonly found in hackathons is networking (Briscoe and Mulligan,
2014) which can be broken down into professional networking (A3) with the aim
to further an individual’s career (A5) or into a personal goal to meet new people
(B1). Learning is also often cited as a motivation for individuals to organize and
participate in hackathons (Saravi et al., 2018) since hackathons have been found to
support knowledge exchange (Ghouila et al., 2018) and foster collaborative
learning (Porras et al., 2018). Learning can again be perceived as a professional
(A4) or personal goal (B5).
Hackathons are also often organized in the context of entrepreneurship (Beltrán,
2017). It thus common for participants of hackathons to focus on creating a
prototype (A1) and founding a start-up after a hackathon has ended (A2).
Furthermore, it might be interesting for them to see what other participants are
working on (A6). Moreover, individuals with a specific start-up idea in mind might
also want to seek potential investors (A7) or individuals that are interested in
working together with them (A8). All of the aforementioned goals are related to the
professional development of the respective participants.
Hackathons are however not only a means of promoting individual careers and
developing start-up companies. Participants also often come to a hackathon because
they are fun (B4) events (Calco and Veeck, 2015), because participants are
interested in the experience (B3), or they perceive it to be a personal challenge (B2).
Table 1. Coding scheme
A Professional Goals
Source
A1 Developing an idea into a
prototype
Briscoe and Mulligan, 2014; Trainer et al.,
2016
A2 Creating a startup
Cobham et al., 2017; Decker et al., 2015
A3 Networking
Briscoe and Mulligan, 2014; Nandi and
Mandernach, 2016
A4 Learning
Briscoe and Mulligan, 2014; Ghouila et al.,
2018
A5 Professional development
Cobham et al., 2017
A6 Seeing new ideas
Deducted from analysis
A7 Investment
Briscoe and Mulligan, 2014
A8 HR
Briscoe and Mulligan, 2014
B Personal Goals
B1 Meeting new people
Komssi et al., 2015; Taylor and Clarke, 2018
B2 Personal challenge
Deducted from analysis
B3 Having a new experience
Deducted from analysis
5
B4 Having fun
Arya et al., 2013; Calco and Veeck, 2015;
Saravi et al., 2018
B5 Learning
Nandi and Mandernach, 2016; Porras et al.,
2018
Study setting
To answer the research questions described in the introduction we conducted a case
study of three different hackathons in two Northern European countries (c.f. Figure
1 for some impressions). We selected hackathons that were similar in scope in terms
of number of days, number of participants and type of audience (c.f. table 2 for an
overview). The type of hackathon we studied was catalytic (Drouhard et al., 2016).
The style of the work environment was competitive, and teams could win prizes
that would allow them to continue working on their projects after the hackathon
had ended. However, didactic talks, professional development and the pursuit of
impact were also part of the hackathons.
Table 2. Hackathon anatomy
Hackathon
H2
H3
Duration
48 hours
48 hours
Number of
Participants
37
36
Participants
Students,
entrepreneurs
Students,
enthusiasts
The theme of hackathon 1 (H1) was to develop innovative bio-technical products
with the possibility of winning prizes that would allow teams to continue working
on their projects after the hackathon. This weekend long event was attended by
more than 40 students, researchers and entrepreneurs. It started with design
workshop held by the organizers before the participants began working on their
ideas and prototypes. Hackathon 2 (H2) focused on sustainability and ecological
impact. This weekend long event hosted 37 participants including students and
entrepreneurs who developed prototypes and competed for prizes that would allow
them to continue working on their projects. Hackathon 3 (H3) was part of a larger
effort in that similar hackathons with the same theme organized by the same group
of people took place simultaneously in over 100 locations. H3 aimed to solve data
visualization, hardware and other prototyping challenges related to space
exploration. During this weekend long hackathon, 36 participants including
students and enthusiasts gathered in teams and collaborated with each other to
develop technical solutions for the aforementioned challenges. Each hackathon
thus had the development of a technical artifact at its core.
6
Figure 1. Stills of hackathon 1 (top right), hackathon 2 (left), and hackathon 3 (bottom right).
Research methods
We conducted semi-structured retrospective interviews with organizers and
participants at each aforementioned hackathons. This approach appeared to be
feasible since we are interested in studying the perception of participants and
organizers of hackathons on their individual goals and whether or not they have
been achieved. Similar designs have been successfully applied in other exploratory
studies on hackathons (Page et al., 2016; Nolte et al., 2018).
For the interviews we developed an interview script focusing on goal alignment
and goal achievement. The themes of the interview were:
Goals: The aims of hackathon organizers and participants related to their
careers and their personal interests (e.g. What were your professional
goals for this hackathon?)
Goal assessment: The metrics participants and organizers applied to
assess their goal achievement (e.g. What goals did you achieve?)
Technology: The tools participants used to cooperate with each other.
(e.g. What tools did you use to collaborate with your teammates?)
Hackathon attendance: How many times participants have been to a
hackathon before (e.g. Is it your first time at a hackathon?)
Hackathon sustainability: Whether participants are planning to continue
working in their projects after the event has ended (e.g. Do you think you
will continue working on your idea?)
Background information: Educational and professional history (e.g. Tell
me about your educational background.)
The interview script was piloted with one hackathon participant and one
organizer. Based on this pretest we adjusted the interview script to ensure the
7
feasibility, flow and appropriateness of the questions. We selected at least one
organizers and multiple participants for our study. The selection of suitable
participants was based on their background (students, entrepreneurs), hackathon
experience (first timers and experienced hackathon participants), locality
(individuals that live in a place for a long time and individuals that recently moved)
and whether or not they pitched an idea at the hackathon (c.f. Table 3 for an
overview).
Table 3. Demographic profile of the participants and organizers
Hackathon
Students
Entrepreneurs
First
timers
Locals
Idea
pitched
Organizers
H1
P1,P2
P1
O1
H2
P3
P1, P5, P6,
P8
P2,
P3,
P7
P2, P4
P6
O1, O2
H3
P1, P2,
P4
P1
P3, P4
O1
After transcribing all interviews one of the authors manually coded the
interviews using the coding scheme we derived from literature (c.f. Table 1). We
followed a deductive coding procedure starting with the pre-defined codes adding
categories if necessary (e.g. Personal challenge (B2) in Table 1).
Goal alignment and achievement of hackathon
organizers and participants
During the course of this section we will first elaborate on the goals of hackathon
organizers (O) and participants (P) of each hackathon (H1, H2, H3) based on our
coding scheme (c.f. Table 1). We will then elaborate on their alignment within one
hackathon (RQ1) and the potential impact of the alignment on whether or not goals
were achieved (RQ2). Overall, we found that organizers and participants did not
interact with each other on a regular basis. The organizers mainly focused on the
operation of the hackathon making sure that e.g. the planned schedule would be
followed. Interaction between organizers and participants during the event was
limited to participants asking individual organizers specific questions e.g. about
upcoming activities. Organizers mostly reached participants for coordination
purposes during the event personally (H1, H3) and used Slack (H2).
Teams internally mainly communicated in person using other tools such as
GoogleDrive or Facebook messages mainly to share files. Each team could decide
on their own toolset with no interference by the organizers.
8
Goal alignment and achievement between the organizer and
participants of hackathon 1 (H1)
The main aim for the organizer (O1) was to provide the platform for the people
that work in this area, for them to get together (O1), by creating an environment
for participants to work on their ideas. S/he also aimed for the participants to
expand their network (A3) and to acquire new skills (A4).
The participants, in comparison, mentioned networking (A3) and learning (A4)
as their main goals. For example, P1 mentioned that s/he wanted to meet people,
speak to them, understand what their point of view is on problems (P1). It thus
appears as if participants and organizer goals were aligned since both aimed for
participants to expand their own networks and acquire new skills. However, when
looking deeper into those two aspects we identified a number of differences.
For the organizer (O1), networking (A3) meant to connect students, just
beginners, or early stage student teams with the local startup network (O1), and
to boost the generation and implementation of ideas related to the theme of the
hackathon. O1 particularly aimed to connect participants with specialists working
at an entrepreneurial center where they could find advice and tools to continue
working on their projects. For participants, however, networking was not linked to
identifying individuals that would support them in continuing to work on their
project. For them, networking was rather related to learning. P1 mentioned for
example that s/he just wanted to learn new things from new people” (P1).
Similar to networking (A3), we found that learning (A4) initially appeared to be
a mutually shared goal for organizers and participants. However, when looking
deeper we also found that the organizer and participants aimed for different learning
aspects. For the organizer it was important that the participating researchers would
learn how to pitch because s/he thought that researchers tend to be too
complicated(O1). The organizer also aimed for the participants to learn about
design thinking (“this whole empathy creating with the potential user or
customer”, O1).
Conversely, participants wanted to learn about the theme of the hackathon. P1
wanted to learn for her/his professional development there is some innovation in
biology which I am searching for, and I really want to take part in it” (P1); and P2
was interested in how we can, for example, improve our lives to be better and to
live longer” (P2).
From the previous analysis it becomes clear that there is a disparity between
organizer and participant goals related to networking (A3) and learning (A4). This
appeared to mainly affect goal achievement on the part of the organizer, since
participants reported to have achieved their goals, for example, P2 was able to learn
about patients with Parkinson’s disease, for me, it was like a discovery that we can
actually help these people” (P2).
9
Goal alignment and achievement between the organizers and
participants of hackathon 2 (H2)
For H2, the main goal for the organizers (O1, O2) was to connect [country1] and
[country2] people who work in tech or in the topic, with the end goal of having
more businesses run by both [country1] and [country2]” (O1). In general, the
organizers thus aimed for the participants to network (A3) by meeting new people
(B1) and then form teams to develop an idea into a prototype (A1), which could
potentially lead to creating a new startup (A2). To foster this last goal, they
invite[d], like, angel investors, so yeah, we give them the tools and it's always up
to the participants to like use those tools” (O2) thus supporting them to find
investors (A7).
The goals of the participants however were much more diverse. Most
participants mentioned that they were interested in learning (A4), P5, P6 and P8
mentioned wanting to develop an idea into a prototype (A1), P1 and P8 were eager
about seeing new ideas (A6). P1 and P5 aimed to find investing opportunities and
investment (A7), P1 hoped to find potential future employees i.e. achieve HR (A8),
P7 and P8 were looking for a new experience (B3) and P1, P6 and P8 participated
for fun (B4). The aim of participants related to learning was generally to learn
something new(P5) by working with teammates (P4) or by talking to people at
the hackathon (P6). One participant also wanted to learn more about how to create
a start-up (P2) and improve her/his presentation skills (P2).
All participants reported that they achieved their respective with a few notable
exceptions: P2 reported that s/he did not manage to learn what s/he aimed to learn,
P1 nor P5 did not find investment opportunities, not investors, (A7), and P1 was
not able to achieve HR (A8) by finding potential employees. Finding investors and
investing opportunities a mutually shared goal between organizers and
participants was thus not achieved.
Most participants mentioned that they were partially able to achieve their
learning goals while pointing towards multiple potential reasons for not achieving
them. One participant mentioned that “it’s […] very difficult to learn a new skill in
two days” (P7) while another participant stated that there's always room to learn
more” (P4). Next to these general remarks P2 also stated that it was not possible
for her/him to improve her/his presentation skills because someone else in her/his
team was in charge of pitching. In addition, s/he stated that s/he would have
expected to be taught more about e.g. how to write a business plan to create a start-
up (P2). It would have certainly been possible for the organizers to support these
participants to achieve their goals by planning the hackathon in a different way.
There was thus no direct misalignment between participant and organizer goals but
rather a lack of awareness about specific participant goals on the part of the
organizers which might have resulted in some participants not being able to achieve
their learning goals.
10
Another issue we found was that one participant was not able to work on her/his
idea because s/he did not find a team and “s/he didn't feel so great about any of the
other ideas so [] s/he just decided to leave (P6). This could have also been
something that could have been spotted by the hackathon organizers especially
since one of their goals was to support participants to turn their idea into a
prototype.
For other goals of the organizers such as teams actually creating a start-up it is
not possible to assess them at the end of the hackathon since they need to be
assessed long term.
Goal alignment and achievement between the organizer and
participants of hackathon 3 (H3)
For the organizer of H3 the main goal was to create an environment for people
where they could network (A3) and collaborate on their project ideas (A1). The
participants mentioned that their goals included networking (A3), learning (A4),
meeting new people (B1), having a personal challenge (B2), experiencing
something new (B3), and having fun (B4). Both organizers and participants thus
mentioned networking as one of their primary goals. However, compared to both
previous hackathons, there was not disparity in the respective details of this goal.
Both participants and organizers aimed to foster professional networking with the
aim to support the professional ambitions of the participants.
The organizer mentioned that her/his goal related to networking (A3) might only
have partially been achieved. This perception was based on her/him expecting
students to get together in their free time (if you think that only the students
between each other will do projects, activities together, then that would be nice,
O1). Participants however were excited about meeting new peers and potentially
starting long term relationships, for example, P4 wanted to “see more people in my
field, make connections(P4), and P2 commented that maybe some other time I
need advice and s/he could get it from the people s/he met at the hackathon (P2).
Apart from meeting new people, participants were also eager about learning,
having a new experience and a personal challenge. P1 and P2 reported they were
able to achieve these goals, meanwhile, P3 and P4 reported to have achieved all of
them, except for learning (A4). P3 mentioned that s/he wanted to learn more about
public speaking but also noted that her/his anxiety “won’t go away in one second
(P3) but rather would get better, like, day by day, (P3). Finally, P4 wanted to
learn about the hiring processes in companies but eventually did not ask the mentors
who were recruited by the organizers from local companies about it. This is
certainly something that the hackathon organizers could foster if they would be
aware of it.
11
Discussion
The previously described analysis reveals a number of interesting aspects related
to the question how the goals of hackathon organizers and participants align (RQ1).
Our findings first indicate that the goals of participants and organizers mainly align
with respect to networking and learning. Other goals such as fostering the creation
of start-up companies (A2) were more important for organizers while finding
investments (A7) and having fun (B4) were more important for participants.
However, when looking closer we found that participants and organizers were often
interested in different aspects of networking and learning despite them both
frequently mentioning these two goals. Organizers mainly focused on professional
networking (A3) while participants were mainly interested in getting to know
people on a personal level (B1). Similarly, when it comes to learning, participants
on one hand were interested in learning about a large variety of different aspects
such as creating a start-up, pitching, learning about new ideas and learning about
how to collaborate with a group of people. Organizers on the other hand mainly
focused on pitching, and although they were present throughout the entire duration
of the hackathons, they mainly focused on facilitating operations and making sure
that everything went smoothly” (O2, H2). They only interacted with participants
when triggered by them. The goals of organizers and participants thus appear to be
well aligned at first sight but were not particularly well aligned when breaking them
down into different aspects of e.g. learning.
Despite this apparent lack of alignment between the goals of organizers and
participants we did however find that most participants reported to have achieved
their goals (RQ2). The goals that they achieved were mainly related to aspects such
as having fun (B4), learning about something new or improving existing skills both
professionally (A4) and personally (B5). The specific aspects of learning that they
reported to have achieved however differed not only between different participants
but also between participants and organizers.
Our analysis also revealed that participants in the same team did not necessarily
share the same goals. Moreover, each team created their own communication and
coordination strategy including the decision which technologies they would use to
communicate and exchange artifacts during the hackathon. These findings are
similar to the ones reported by Trainer et al. (2016) and Lundbjerg et al. (2017). It
should also be noted that teams rarely used technology to communicate. They did
however use tools such as Google Drive and Slack to share artifacts. Ensuring
awareness about tasks and goals was thus fostered by the co-located setting rather
than additional technologies.
The fact that most participants reported to have achieved their respective goals
despite an apparent lack of alignment points to the assumption that some goals are
simply inherent to the nature of hackathons which means that it might not be
required to specifically plan for them. Learning and networking are the two main
12
examples for this. Both can according to our study be achieved simply due to
the nature of hackathons in that people that do not necessarily know each other
before coming together during a hackathon to work on a project idea. Such ideas
often involve working on something that is not necessarily familiar to all team
members which in turn requires individuals to acquire new skills in order to
complete their project and to pitch their project idea to an audience. This finding is
in line with previous work by Warner and Guo (2017) who found that learning for
participants can be incidental (as a consequence of doing), opportunistic (by taking
advantage of the tools and facilities), or from talking to peers and that learning can
thus be an inherent hackathon characteristic. Similar findings were reported by
Drouhard et al. (2016).
That being said we also identified situations in which participants did not
achieve goals such as attracting investment (A7) and creating a start-up (A2)
directly. These specific goals however are very unlikely to be achieved during a
hackathon and should thus be assessed in the months after the event has ended. In
such cases organizers could point out that such goals are unrealistic and that a
hackathon can be a starting point on a longer journey but that reaching these goals
requires longer term investment. This is in line with previous work by Komssi et
al. (2015) who stated that “hackathons by themselves don’t initiate new business,
they require mechanisms in place in order to commercialize their results”.
We also found situations in which participants did not achieve their specific
learning goals despite them having the possibility to do so. One participant wanted
to learn about pitching but someone else in the team pitched their idea instead, one
participant wanted to learn more about start-up creation but there was no specific
advice during the hackathon. Another participant wanted to learn about the hiring
process in companies but did not get to talk to hackathon mentors about it. Those
goals could probably have been achieved if the organizers would have been aware
of them and adjusted the procedure during the hackathon. This points towards goal
awareness on the part of the organizers being more important than actual goal
alignment. To foster goal awareness organizers could in the future e.g. approach
participants and ask them about what they would like to achieve during the
hackathon. This would also organizers to support participants reaching their goals.
The hackathon format itself however provides an opportunity for social interaction
that inherently fosters goals such as networking and learning.
Contrary to Hou and Wang (2017) we did not find any tensions being created by
misaligned goals. Our findings thus also stand in contrast to work in the context of
project management where goal alignment is considered to be an important
prerequisite for project success (Skulmoski and Hartman, 1999) and misalignment
can lead to conflict (Kingston et al., 2000). This contrast however might stem from
the fact that in our case participants in particular were mainly focused on learning
and networking rather than completing a particular project. Both of these goals can
13
be achieved by individuals during a hackathon without any specific external
support as discussed before.
Limitations
The aim of this study was to identify goals of hackathon organizers and participants,
their alignment and the potential effects of goal alignment on their achievement.
This particular phenomenon has received limited attention in research so far. It thus
appeared reasonable to conduct an in-depth case study. We do however
acknowledge that despite developing and applying a coding scheme that is
grounded in relevant literature and carefully selecting study participants studying
groups is different hackathons working on different problems with different goals
might yield different results.
Future work
Based on the results of this study our aim is to develop a framework of goals which
will serve as a basis for a survey instrument to study the interdependence of the
different identified goals on a larger scale. Our sample for this study will include
similar participants to those we studied thus covering individuals who are going to
hackathons for the first time, individuals who have been to many hackathons,
individuals who have ideas that they want to work on during a hackathon and
individuals who do not. For the upcoming study we will also adjust our research
focus by including the aspect of goal awareness as discussed in the previous section.
We will also use the identified goals as a basis for a of keywords to conduct a
quantitative case study on a larger hackathon database. These two studies combined
will allow us to identify how different goals can influence hackathon outcomes as
well as the perception of hackathon outcomes by participants.
Acknowledgments
Thanks to all interviewees who donated their time for the sake of this research.
References
Angelidis, P., Berman, L., Casas-Perez, M. de la L., Celi, L. A., Dafoulas, G. E., Dagan, A., …
Winkler, E. (2016): The hackathon model to spur innovation around global mHealth. Journal
of Medical Engineering & Technology, vol. 40(7-8), pp. 392-399.
Arya, A., Chastine, J., Preston, J., & Fowler, A. (2013): An International Study on Learning and
Process Choices in the Global Game Jam. International Journal of Game-Based Learning,
vol. 3, pp. 27-46.
14
Baccarne, B., Mechant, P., Schuurman, D. Colpaert, P. & De Marez, L. (2014): Urban socio-
technical innovations with and by citizens. Interdisciplinary Studies Journal, vol. 3, no. 4, pp.
143-156.
Beltrán, H. (2017): Staging the Hackathon: Codeworlds and Code Work in México. ISSI
GRADUATE FELLOWS WORKING PAPER SERIES 2016-2017.78. UC Berkeley: Institute
for the Study of Societal Issues.
Briscoe, G. and Mulligan, C. (2014): ‘Digital Innovation: The Hackathon Phenomenon’.
Creativeworks London, vol. 6, pp. 113.
Calco, M. and Veeck, A. (2015): ‘The Markathon: Adapting the Hackathon Model for an
Introductory Marketing Class Project’. Marketing Education Review, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 33-38.
Cobham, D., Gowen, C., Hargrave, B.J., Jacques, K.W., Laurel J. & Ringham, S. (2017): From
hackathon to student enterprise: an evaluation of creating successful and sustainable student
entrepreneurial activity initiated by a university hackathon. In 9th annual International
Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies. EDULEARN.
Decker, A., Eiselt, K., and Voll, K. (2015): ‘Understanding and improving the culture of
hackathons: Think global hack local’. IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), pp. 1-8.
Drouhard, M., Tanweer, A. and Fiore-Gartland, B. (2016): ‘A typology of hackathon events’.
In Hacking at Time-Bound Events Workshop at Computer Supported Cooperative Work, pp. 1-
4.
Ghouila, A., Siwo, G. H., Entfellner, J.-B. D., Panji, S., Button-Simons, K. A., Davis, S. Z., …
Mulder, N. (2018): Hackathons as a means of accelerating scientific discoveries and
knowledge transfer. In Genome Research, vol. 28, no.5, pp. 759765
Hartmann, S., Mainka, A. and Stock, W. G. (2018): ‘Innovation Contests: How to Engage Citizens
in Solving Urban Problems? Enhancing Knowledge Discovery and Innovation in the Digital
Era’. IGI Global, pp. 254273.
Henderson, S. (2015): Getting the most out of hackathons for social good. In Volunteer
Engagement 2.0: Ideas and insights changing the world, pp. 182194.
Hou, Y. and Wang, D. (2017): ‘Hacking with NPOs: Collaborative Analytics and Broker Roles in
Civic Data Hackathons’. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, vol. 1.
Kienzler, H. and Fontanesi, C. (2017): ‘Learning through inquiry: A global health hackathon’.
Teaching in Higher Education, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 129142.
Kingston, G., Jeffery, R. and Huang, W. (2000): ‘An explanatory study on the goal alignment
problem in joint software reviews’. In Proceedings 2000 Australian Software Engineering
Conference, pp. 63-72.
Komssi, M., Pichlis, D., Raatikainen, M., Kindström, K. and Järvinen, J. (2015): ‘What are
Hackathons for?’. In IEEE Software, vol. 32, no. 5, pp. 60-67.
Lundbjerg, E.H., Osten, J.P., Kanto, R. & Bjørn, P. (2017): The Hackerspace Manifested as a
DIY-IoT Entity: Shaping and Protecting the Identity of the Community. ECSCW Exploratory
Papers.
Möller, S., Afgan, E., Banck, M., Bonnal, R. J., Booth, T., Chilton, J., … Chapman, B. A. (2014):
Community-driven development for computational biology at Sprints, Hackathons and
Codefests. BMC Bioinformatics, 15(S14), S7.
Nandi, A. and Mandernach, M. (2016): ‘Hackathons as an informal learning platform’. In
Proceedings of the 47th ACM Technical Symposium on Computing Science Education
(SIGCSE '16), pp. 346351.
Nolte, A., Pe-Than, E. P. P., Filippova, A., Bird, C., Scallen, S., & Herbsleb, J. D. (2018): ‘You
Hacked and Now What? Exploring Outcomes of a Corporate Hackathon’. Proceedings of the
ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, vol. 2, no. CSCW, pp. 129:1129:23.
15
Page, F., Sweeney, S., Bruce, F. and Baxter, S. (2016): ‘The use of hackathon in design education:
an opportunistic exploration’. Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on
Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE), pp. 246-251.
Pe-Than, E.P.P., Herbsleb, J., Nolte, A., Gerber, E., Fiore-Gartland, B., Chapman, B., Moser, A.,
and Wilkins-Diehr, N. (2018): The 2nd Workshop on Hacking and Making at Time-Bounded
Events: Current Trends and Next Steps in Research and Event Design. In Extended Abstracts
of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM., New York,
NY, USA, Paper W35, 8 pages.
Pe-Than, E.P.P., Nolte, A., Filippova, A., Bird, C., Scallen, S. and Herbsleb, J.D. (2019):
‘Designing Corporate Hackathons With a Purpose’. IEEE Software, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 1522.
Porras, J., Khakurel, J., Ikonen, J., Happonen, A., Knutas, A., Herala, A., and Drögehorn, O.
(2018): ‘Hackathons in software engineering education: lessons learned from a decade of
events’. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Software Engineering
Education for Millennials (SEEM '18), pp. 40-47.
Porter, E., Bopp, C., Gerber E. and Voida, A. (2017): Reappropriating Hackathons: The
Production Work of the CHI4Good Day of Service. In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI
Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. pp. 810814, ACM.
Saravi, S., Joannou, D., Kalawsky, R. S., King, M. R. N., Marr, I., Hall, M., … Hill, A. (2018): ‘A
Systems Engineering Hackathon A Methodology Involving Multiple Stakeholders to Progress
Conceptual Design of a Complex Engineered Product, IEEE Access, vol. 6, pp. 38399-38410.
Skulmoski, G. J., and Hartman, F.T. (1999): ‘Project alignment: The key to successful cost
engineering’, AACE International. Transactions of the Annual Meeting, pp. PM41-PM45.
Stephen, A. T., and Coote, L.V. (2007): ‘Interfirm behavior and goal alignment in relational
exchanges’, Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 60, no. 4, pp. 285-295,
Stoltzfus, A., Rosenberg, M., Lapp, H., Budd, A., Cranston, K., Pontelli, E., … Vos, R. A. (2017):
Community and Code: Nine Lessons from Nine NESCent Hackathons’, F1000Research, vol. 6,
pp. 786.
Taylor, N., and Clarke, L. (2018): ‘Everybody’s Hacking: Participation and the Mainstreaming of
Hackathons’, Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing
Systems, pp. 172, ACM.
Trainer, E.H., Kalyanasundaram, A., Chaihirunkarn, C. & Herbsleb, J.D. (2016): How to
Hackathon: Socio-technical Tradeoffs in Brief, Intensive Collocation., CSCW.
Warner, J., and Guo, P. J. (2017): ‘Hack.edu: Examining How College Hackathons Are Perceived
By Student Attendees and Non-Attendees’. In Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on
International Computing Education Research (ICER '17), pp. 254-262.
Zhang, Y., and Chiu, C. (2012): Goal commitment and alignment of personal goals predict group
identification only when the goals are shared’, Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, vol.
15, no. 3, pp. 425437.
... For example, organizers might aim to foster entrepreneurship whereas participants simply aim to pursue their interest related to a particular topic or project. It is not necessary that organizers and participants have identical goals, but organizers should be aware of potential goal disparities and take necessary actions to maximize the satisfaction of participants with different goals [42]. The participants, for example, might have a superset of the organizersâȂŹ goals, or the organizersâȂŹ goals may be achievable even if only a subset of participants shares them. ...
... Trade-offs 1. Goal compatibility (Organization goals vs personal goals): Although the organizational goals may not necessarily be compatible with personal goals of the participants [42], the huge disparity among goals will lead to dissatisfying with experience and artifacts generated. One essential responsibility of organizers is then to identify any potential misalliance among goals and ways to mitigate it. ...
... Goal clarity: Although hackathons should ideally be designed to achieve goals of both organizers and participants, there are circumstances where their goals are not aligned [20,42]. This occurs, for example, when organizers hold a hackathon to connect professionals working across different fields, but participants wish to develop viable product prototypes. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Hackathons and similar time-bounded events have become a global phenomenon. Their proliferation in various domains and their usefulness for a variety of goals has subsequently led to the emergence of different formats. While there are a multitude of guidelines available on how to prepare and run a hackathon, most of them focus on a particular format that was created for a specific purpose within a domain for a certain type of participants. This makes it difficult in particular for novice organizers to decide how to run an event that fits their needs. To address this gap we developed a planning kit that is organized around 12 key decision that organizers need to make when preparing and running a hackathon, and the tradeoffs that drive decision-making. The main planning kit is available online while this report is meant as a downloadable and citable resource.
... Most of these events offer prizes that may include tools and resources, mentorship, or tickets to startup incubators [12,32]. Prior work has identified various motivations for individuals to attend such events that include entrepreneurial goals, such as building a product, finding a team to work with [5], networking [4], learning [5], and finding investors [26]. There are also motivations unrelated to entrepreneurship though, such as free pizza [5], status and reputation [21], having fun [26], and career concerns [9]. ...
... Prior work has identified various motivations for individuals to attend such events that include entrepreneurial goals, such as building a product, finding a team to work with [5], networking [4], learning [5], and finding investors [26]. There are also motivations unrelated to entrepreneurship though, such as free pizza [5], status and reputation [21], having fun [26], and career concerns [9]. Our research expands this line of research by focusing on the goals of startup founders and how these goals could be related to the development of their existing startups. ...
... It has also been addressed [5] as one of the most popular motivations to attend hackathons, and as a helpful aspect for startups [8] as founders can learn from experts and peers about how to solve startup problems. Building a prototype [26] was mentioned by almost all startup founders as a motivation to attend hackathons. It is evident why these findings match, as hackathons are events that focus essentially on the development of projects. ...
Chapter
Entrepreneurial hackathons are generally perceived to foster the creation of new startups, support networking, and acquire entrepreneurial skills. Current research work about entrepreneurial hackathons focuses on reporting the perceived benefits of the participants. However, little is known about why startup founders initially participate in hackathons, how they perceive the impact of participating on their entrepreneurial journey, and how different hackathon settings can affect their perception. To address this gap, we conducted an interview study with startup founders who have participated in hackathons. Our findings indicate that founders are mainly motivated to participate in hackathons in relation to their startups to learn about the topic of their startup and train the prototyping skills of their startup team. Moreover, we found that the initial intentions of startup founders could change during the hackathon.
... In primo luogo, se è vero che lo sviluppo di un prototipo non è l'obiettivo principale degli hackathon mainstreamed, ciò non significa che le attività di ideazione e prototipazione che li caratterizzano debbano essere lasciate al caso. Tutt'altro: tanto la letteratura sul tema quanto i risultati di questa ricerca evidenziano come la sfida intellettuale rappresentata dal "costruire qualcosa" sia ad oggi una delle principali ragioni per partecipare ad eventi del genere (Artiles & Wallace, 2013;Briscoe & Mulligan, 2014;Medina Angarita & Nolte, 2019;Mol, 2016;Saravi et al., 2018). Attraverso la co-costruzione di un artefatto materiale i partecipanti hanno poi l'opportunità di conoscere i propri pari, di mettersi alla prova e di sviluppare le proprie competenze di dominio e il proprio bagaglio di soft skills. ...
... Un altro valido motivo è legato ai benefici derivanti dalla maggiore visibilità ed esposizione offerte dagli hackathon(Lee et al., 2015;Nolte 2019). Approfittando della presenza co-locata di un pool di stakeholder di diversa natura e facendo leva sul passaparola(Haller et al., 2011), le start-up possono avviare in questi contesti una campagna di promozione personale al fine di suscitare l'interesse nei propri confronti, di attrarre investimenti(Frey & Luks, 2016;Leckart, 2012;Lee et al., 2015;Medina Angarita & Nolte, 2019;Nolte, 2019) o di individuare nuovi possibili partner (Medina Angarita & Nolte, 2019; Nolte 2019). Anche le imprese coinvolte negli hackathon (spesso nel ruolo di mentori o problem-owner) possonosfruttare la loro partecipazione all'evento per aumentare la propria visibilità ed ampliare la propria rete di contatti professionali(Briscoe & Mulligan, 2014;Dehli, 2016;Gama, 2017;Medina Angarita & Nolte, 2019;Nolte, 2019;Perng et al., 2017;Trainer et al., 2016). ...
... Approfittando della presenza co-locata di un pool di stakeholder di diversa natura e facendo leva sul passaparola(Haller et al., 2011), le start-up possono avviare in questi contesti una campagna di promozione personale al fine di suscitare l'interesse nei propri confronti, di attrarre investimenti(Frey & Luks, 2016;Leckart, 2012;Lee et al., 2015;Medina Angarita & Nolte, 2019;Nolte, 2019) o di individuare nuovi possibili partner (Medina Angarita & Nolte, 2019; Nolte 2019). Anche le imprese coinvolte negli hackathon (spesso nel ruolo di mentori o problem-owner) possonosfruttare la loro partecipazione all'evento per aumentare la propria visibilità ed ampliare la propria rete di contatti professionali(Briscoe & Mulligan, 2014;Dehli, 2016;Gama, 2017;Medina Angarita & Nolte, 2019;Nolte, 2019;Perng et al., 2017;Trainer et al., 2016). Si tratta di un vantaggio non di poco conto dato che le relazioni instaurate nel corso degli ...
Thesis
Gli hackathon sono competizioni di durata limitata in cui i partecipanti lavorano a ritmo serrato per progettare e sviluppare una soluzione – sotto forma di idea o artefatto – ad uno specifico problema. Nati come meet-up per sviluppatori, gli hackathon rappresentano oggi fenomeni di massa utilizzati per perseguire molteplici finalità e applicati in contesti lontani da quello originario. Eppure, nonostante la loro fama di catalizzatori di innovazione, gran parte dei prototipi sviluppati in occasione di queste maratone collaborative ha vita breve, così breve da terminare con la conclusione dell’evento stesso. È perciò lecito chiedersi in che modo gli hackathon producano valore per le parti coinvolte, e se questo valore derivi dal prototipo sviluppato o piuttosto dai processi socio-materiali che informano l’attività di prototipazione collaborativa. Sulla base dei risultati emersi dall’analisi di uno specifico caso di studio – l’Open Data Hackabot 2019 – lo scopo della ricerca è duplice. In primis esplorare il fenomeno degli hackathon da una prospettiva differente, assumendo cioè che i prototipi non rappresentino i prodotti finali di questi eventi bensì agiscano come boundary objects (Star & Griesemer, 1989). Così pensati, i prototipi rappresentano il perno sul quale prendono forma assemblaggi sociotecnici contingenti – vere e proprie condizioni di possibilità per la produzione di prodotti altri e non necessariamente materiali. Sulla base dei dati raccolti, verranno in secondo luogo suggerite delle azioni concrete al fine di facilitare la prototipazione dei prodotti intangibili che ha luogo agli hackathon e di massimizzarne gli effetti benefici.
... Networking is perhaps one of the most recurring motivations to participate in hackathons [8,21,45]. Some participants mentioned that networking only existed within their teams and between the team and their mentors. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Hackathons and similar time-bounded events have become a popular form of collaboration. They are commonly organized as in-person events during which teams engage in intense collaboration over a short period of time to complete a project that is of interest to them. Most research to date has focused on studying how teams collaborate in a co-located setting, pointing towards the advantages of radical co-location. The global pandemic of 2020, however, has led to many hackathons moving online, which challenges our current understanding of how they function. In this paper, we address this gap by presenting findings from a multiple-case study of 10 hackathon teams that participated in 4 hackathons across two continents. By analyzing the collected data, we found that teams merged synchronous and asynchronous means of communication to maintain a common understanding of work progress as well as to maintain awareness of each other's tasks. Task division was self-assigned based on individual skills or interests, while leaders emerged from different strategies (e.g., participant experience, the responsibility of registering the team in an event). Some of the affordances of in-person hackathons, such as the radical co-location of team members, could be partially reproduced in teams that kept synchronous communication channels while working (i.e., shared audio territories), in a sort of "radical virtual co-location". However, others, such as interactions with other teams, easy access to mentors, and networking with other participants, decreased. In addition, the technical constraints of the different communication tools and platforms brought technical problems and were overwhelming to participants. Our work contributes to understanding the virtual collaboration of small teams in the context of online hackathons and how technologies and event structures proposed by organizers imply this collaboration.
... It should be noted in this context that each participant can have different motivations to participate in an event and that their goals are not always aligned to each other or to goals of the organizers [33] and as such, it would be important to be able to understand to ask from yourself, are you doing the right things, if the hackathons are not producing the proper results [25]. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
In developed countries, companies face constant growing legal enforcement and pressure from governments and local municipalities to become more environmentally friendly. Nowadays, sustainability is a business advantage and a clear competitive edge as an integral part of some front-line companies’ business models too [1-3]. In this complex environment, several options are available for companies to become more sustainable in terms of their services and products, operative actions and business models. For example, this can be achieved by reducing income inequality [99] and minimizing the negative environmental impact [4]. Companies can hire expensive consultants and study step by step guidebooks for making less waste and running their operations more environmentally friendly, or they can innovate and jump new level of sustainable production. In the innovation strategy, different organizations typically do collaborate with higher education institutions, with the goal to acquire and implement new sustainable solution seeds for the business operations. Such collaborations exist in the form of hackathons, code camps and similar events which have been proven to be powerful and successful sources of innovation seeds. The study objective was to map different strategies in hackathon event collaboration to achieve better results in sustainability matters in company – university collaboration relationship. This study is based on published materials and experience-based evidence of successful creation of new business ideas by several companies in Russia, Finland and Estonia. In addition to the gained sustainability in operations, the companies have also minimized energy consumption and reduced own and their customers CO₂ emissions and carbon footprint.
... Hackathons are described mainly as an event where participants collaborate intensively [20,23], during which participants come together and form teams [21,[24][25][26][27][28]. Furthermore, hackathon "implies an intense, uninterrupted, period of programming." ...
Chapter
Pandemics with their lockdowns have proven that radical collocation, collaborating intensively in a same physical space in the same time is not always possible. However, radical collocation is one of the necessary attributes of hackathons, one type of innovation contests. Yet, digital platforms enable virtual collocation, i.e. collaborating at the same time in a virtual place. This paper addresses the virtual hackathon as an innovation contest method for uses in situations, where radical collocation is unfeasible. Specifically, it focuses on virtual hackathon as a method for university-industry collaboration. Although collocation in general plays an integral part in hackathon process, either radical or possible virtual collocation has not yet been the focus of hackathon research. Therefore, this paper presents a case study of a university-industry collaboration involving five organizations in Finland. As a result, the paper reveals benefits, disadvantages and challenges collocation in virtual format causes to the hackathon as an innovation contest event. Presenting conclusions for both academics and industry, the paper contributes to the literature on hackathons used particularly with virtual collocation in the university-industry collaboration.
... It thus appears worthwhile to assess project continuation, to explore aspects that may affect continuation and to identify means to promote it. Moreover, participants might come to events with their own goals in mind that are not necessarily aligned with the goals of the organizers [46]. These participant goals might consequently involve project continuation even if the event is not specifically designed with continuation in mind. ...
Article
Full-text available
Time-based events, such as hackathons and codefests, have become a global phenomenon attracting thousands of participants to hundreds of events every year. While research on hackathons has grown considerably, there is still limited insight into what happens to hackathon projects after the event itself has ended. While case studies have provided rich descriptions of hackathons and their aftermath, we add to this literature a large-scale quantitative study of continuation across hackathons in a variety of domains. Our findings indicate that a considerable number of projects get continued after a hackathon has ended. Our results also suggest that short-and long-term continuation are different phenomena. While short-term continuation is associated with technical preparation, number of technologies used in a project and winning a hackathon, long-term continuation is predicated on skill diversity among team members, their technical capabilities in relationship to the technologies and their intention to expand the reach of a project. Moreover, we found intensive short-term activity to be associated with a lower likelihood of long-term project continuation.
... There are limited insights into how the goals of the participants could affect, for instance, ideation, team formation, or hacking. It is still uncertain how participant goals [32] relate to their behavior during hackathons and how their individual goals can affect the sustainability of outcomes. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Hackathons are time-bounded events where participants gather in teams to develop projects that interest them. Such events have been adopted in various domains to generate innovative solutions, foster learning, build and expand communities and to tackle civic and ecological issues. While research interest has also grown subsequently, most studies focus on singular events in specific domains. A systematic overview of the current state of the art is currently missing. Such an overview is however crucial to further study the hackathon phenomenon, understand its underlying mechanisms and develop support for hackathon organizers, in particular related to the sustainability of hackathon outcomes. This paper fills that gap by reporting on the results of a systematic literature review thus providing an overview of potential hackathon outcomes, design aspects and connections between them that have been addressed in prior work. Our findings also outline gaps in prior work e.g. related to the lack of work focusing on hackathon outcomes other than hackathon projects.
... While learning can be considered an essential part of every hackathon, prior work provides indication that what organizers want participants to learn at a hackathon can be different from what they actually learn or are interested in learning [22]. It is thus necessarily to design a hackathon approach that specifically focuses on activities related to security learning. ...
Chapter
Securing information systems and teaching people about how to use them securely is one of the significant challenges of the coming years. There is, however, a considerable lack of feasible approaches to train potential future professionals on security. Hackathons appear to be a good approach because studies have found them to not only be useful to teach participants but also to encourage people to explore the security of information systems. Such benefits cannot materialize without careful planning though. In our paper, we propose and evaluate a set of interventions aimed at fostering security learning amongst hackathon participants. Evaluating our approach, we found that emphasizing the need for idea generation, introducing security talks relevant to the ideas generated, interaction with mentors that come from diverse backgrounds, and the introduction of incentives can encourage security learning among participants.
Article
There are several ways in making learning activities more engaging and interesting to computer science students. In addition to traditional higher education (curriculum, project-based approaches, lectures, labs), we consider competitive approaches such as hackathons to develop hard and soft skills. Computer science education needs to change requirements for hard and soft skills. In order hard skills university CS education has to capture the changes behind the trends, such as big data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, etc. Developing soft skills is important teamwork, end-user awareness, collaboration, etc. This study aims to present the various ways to implement hackathons in the context of CS education. We also present a taxonomy of hackathons based on our experiences and observations from 2016 to the present. We aim to share our lessons learned on the following issues: (1) How can hackathons be designed in CS education to teach students necessary skills and competencies; (2) what kinds of programming projects monitoring and evaluation we need during hackathons.
Article
Full-text available
Time bounded events such as hackathons, data dives, codefests, hack-days, sprints or edit-a-thons have in- creasingly gained attention from practitioners and researchers. Existing research, however, has mainly focused on the event itself, while potential outcomes of hackathons have received limited attention. Furthermore, most research around hackathons focuses on collegiate or civic events. Research around hackathons internal to tech companies, which are nearly ubiquitous, and present significant organizational, cultural, and managerial challenges, remains scarce. In this paper we address this gap by presenting findings from a case study of five teams which participated in a large scale corporate hackathon. Most team members voiced their intentions to continue the projects their worked on during the hackathon, but those whose projects did get continued were characterized by meticulous preparation, a focus on executing a shared vision during the hackathon, extended dissemination activities afterwards and a fit to existing product lines. Such teams were led by individuals who perceived the hackathon as an opportunity to bring their idea to life and advance their careers, and who recruited teams who had a strong interest in the idea and in learning the skills necessary to contribute efficiently. Our analysis also revealed that individual team members perceived hackathon participation to have positive effects on their career parts, networks and skill development.
Article
Full-text available
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.
Article
Full-text available
This paper describes a novel hackathon-style system engineering process and its value as an agile approach to the rapid generation and development of early design concepts of complex engineered products – in this case a future aircraft. Complex product design typically requires a diverse range of stakeholders to arrive at a consensus of key decision criteria and design factors, which requires effective articulation and communication of information across traditional engineering and operational disciplines. The application of the methodology is highlighted by means of a case study inspired by Airbus where stakeholder involvement and internal collaboration among team members was essential to achieve a set of agreed goals. The paper shows that a hackathon grounded on systems engineering approaches and structured around the technical functions within an engineering company, has the capability and capacity to communicate a coherent vision and rationale for the conceptual design of a complex engineered product. The hackathon method offers significant benefits to these stakeholders to better manage, prioritize, and decrease excessive complexities in the overall design process. A significant benefit of this agile process is that it can achieve useful results in a very short timeframe (i.e. 80% reduction) where it could take up to a year to accomplish compared to using current/regular internal methods.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Hackathons or Hackathon-style events, describe increasingly popular time-bounded intensive events across different fields and sectors. Often cited examples of hackathons include the demanding overnight competitive coding events, but there are many design variations for different audiences and with divergent aims. They offer a new form of collaboration by affording explicit, predictable, time-bounded spaces for interdependent work and engaging with new audiences. This one-day workshop will bring together researchers, experienced event organizers, and practitioners to share and discuss their practical experiences. Empirical insights from studying these events may help position the CHI community to better study, plan and design hackathon-style events and socio-technical systems that support new modes of production and collaboration.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Hackathons have become a popular tool for bringing people together to imagine new possibilities for technology. Despite originating in technology communities, hackathons have now been widely adopted by a broad range of organisations. This mainstreaming of hackathons means they encompass a very different range of attendees and activities than they once did, to the extent that some events billed as hackathons may involve no coding at all. Given this shift away from production of code, they might instead be seen as an increasingly popular participatory design activity, from which designers and researchers in HCI can learn. Through fieldwork at six hackathons that targeted non-technical communities, we identify the types of activities and contributions that emerge through these events and the barriers and tensions that might exist. In doing so, we contribute a greater understanding of hackathons as a growing phenomenon and as a potential tool for participatory research.
Article
Full-text available
Scientific research plays a key role in the advancement of human knowledge and pursuit of solutions to important societal challenges. Typically, research occurs within specific institutions where data are generated and subsequently analyzed. Although collaborative science bringing together multiple institutions is now common, in such collaborations the analytical processing of the data is often performed by individual researchers within the team, with only limited internal oversight and critical analysis of the workflow prior to publication. Here, we show how hackathons can be a means of enhancing collaborative science by enabling peer review before results of analyses are published by cross-validating the design of studies or underlying data sets and by driving reproducibility of scientific analyses. Traditionally, in data analysis processes, data generators and bioinformaticians are divided and do not collaborate on analyzing the data. Hackathons are a good strategy to build bridges over the traditional divide and are potentially a great agile extension to the more structured collaborations between multiple investigators and institutions.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Hackathons are currently a hot topic in industrial learning settings. Like intensive collaborative courses (e.g. code camps), hackathons have been shown to be successful tools for learning. However, current research has failed to adequately compare the two approaches with respect to who benefits, which stakeholders are involved, and what the practical arrangement differences are. We used a literature review, our own multi-year learning experiences, and written and interview material from students and industry participants to present an overview of hackathons and code camps. Based on the results of our analysis, we present a taxonomy, based on our experiences, to help practitioners decide which kind of intensive event approach is suitable for them, depending on their industry and educational needs. This synthesis and the study results provide the first steps towards a functional definition that covers intensive collaborative working events involving real-life problems, such as code camps, hackathons, and 24-hour innovation workshops. Currently, the terminology is diverse, but there are commonalities and differences across each of these events and their purposes.
Chapter
Full-text available
Cities all over the world are challenged with problems evolving from increasing urbanity, population growth, and density. For example, one prominent issue that is addressed in many cities is mobility. To develop smart city solutions, governments are trying to introduce open innovation. They have started to open their governmental and city related data as well as awake the citizens' awareness on urban problems through innovation contests. Citizens are the users of the city and therefore, have a practical motivation to engage in innovation contests as for example in hackathons and app competitions. The collaboration and co-creation of civic services by means of innovation contests is a cultural development of how governments and citizens work together in an open governmental environment. A qualitative analysis of innovation contests in 24 world cities reveals this global trend. In particular, such events increase the awareness of citizens and local businesses for identifying and solving urban challenges and are helpful means to transfer the smart city idea into practicable solutions.
Article
Full-text available
Recently Nonprofit organizations (NPOs) are adopting more and more data-driven approaches to their work, yet NPOs often lack appropriate tools and expertise in such data related works. To compensate, many NPOs are using a new form of collaboration, civic data hackathons, to leverage on external volunteers' data expertise. In this paper, we sought to understand how civic data hackathons could generate impactful data analytics for NPOs' data-driven work, and how to support collaborative data analytics during hackathons. We collected various types of data (observations, surveys, and interviews) from two civic data hackathons with 9 NPOs and over 300 data volunteers in a Midwestern city in the U.S. Our results describe the collaboration activities and the types of actionable collaborative analytics outputs generated from these activities. We also identify a unique social group (i.e., client teams), who help with preparing and coordinating the event, perform brokering activities to support the collaborative analytics through the civic data hackathons. This broker role is vital for the success of the collaboration between domain experts and data experts. Our findings contribute to the CSCW research on the collaborative work of interdisciplinary hackathons, and to a broader understanding of civic data collaborations.
Conference Paper
College hackathons have become popular in the past decade, with tens of thousands of students now participating each year across hundreds of campuses. Since hackathons are informal learning environments where students learn and practice coding without any faculty supervision, they are an important site for computing education researchers to study as a complement to studying formal classroom learning environments. However, despite their popularity, little is known about why students choose to attend these events, what they gain from attending, and conversely, why others choose *not* to attend. This paper presents a mixed methods study that examines student perceptions of college hackathons by focusing on three main questions: 1.) Why are students motivated to attend hackathons? 2.) What kind of learning environment do these events provide? 3.) What factors discourage students from attending? Through semi-structured interviews with six college hackathon attendees (50% female), direct observation at a hackathon, and 256 survey responses from college students (42% female), we discovered that students were motivated to attend for both social and technical reasons, that the format generated excitement and focus, and that learning occurred incidentally, opportunistically, and from peers. Those who chose not to attend or had negative experiences cited discouraging factors such as physical discomfort, lack of substance, an overly competitive climate, an unwelcoming culture, and fears of not having enough prior experience. We conclude by discussing ideas for making college hackathons more broadly inclusive and welcoming in light of our study's findings.