Gamification of the Internal Innovation Process

An Examination of Literature Streams and a Case Study Analysis

Bachelor Thesis, 2014

75 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents


List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Abbreviations

1 Introduction
1.1 Relevance and Problem Statement
1.2 Research Question
1.3 Sub-Questions
1.4 Overview

2 Theoretical Background
2.1 Innovation Management
2.1.1 Classification of innovation
2.1.2 The Innovation Funnel
2.1.3 Electronic Brainstorming
2.2 Understanding Human Motivation
2.2.1 Different Kinds of Motivation
2.2.2 Self-Determination Theory
2.2.3 Organizational Psychology Types
2.2.4 The Emergence and Possible Enhancement of Motivation
2.2.5 Categorization of Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation at the Workplace
2.3 Gamification
2.3.1 Towards a Definition
2.3.2 Origin
2.3.3 How Gamification Works Player Types Game Elements/Game Mechanics Game Dynamics
2.3.4 Linking Innovation Management, Electronic Brainstorming, and Gamification
2.3.5 Gamification Design Process
2.3.6 Critique

3 Methodology
3.1 The “Building Theories from Case Study Research” Model
3.2 This Thesis’ Approach Based on Eisenhardt’s BTCM

4 Results
4.1 Within-Case Analysis
4.1.1 Open-ended Approach
4.1.2 Challenge-based Approach
4.2 Cross-Case Analysis

5 Conclusion

6 Limitations of this Thesis and Future Research
6.1 Limitations
6.2 Future Research and Outlook

Reference List

A: Longlist of Gamification Software Providers
B: Building Theories from Case Study Research
C: Interview Proceedings
C1: Mindjet – Uwe Marquardt
C2: Xxx xxx


Gamification has been hyped during the last years. There are studies predicting an enormous rise of the rate of companies gamifying their innovation process. Nevertheless, the majority of those projects are supposed to fail because the application might be designed poorly.

In this thesis, a comprehensive examination of theoretical background is delivered, the providers of gamification software are ascertained, case studies of some of their completed projects are analyzed, and interviews are conducted with implementing consultants.

The thesis concludes that gamifying an innovation platform for time-restricted innovation challenges can be a very powerful and successful management tool if implemented properly. Open-ended gamification approaches of innovation platforms usually fail to meet its business objectives in the long run because participation decreases over time.

List of Figures

Figure 1 Gartner’s Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies Modified from Pettey and van der Meulen (2012)

Figure 2 Innovation Funnel Own work based on O’Sullivan (2002), Lenfle and Baldwin (2007), and Mindjet (Appendix C1)

Figure 3 Self-Determination Own visualization adapted from Ryan and Deci (2000)

Figure 4 Fogg Behavior Model Own visualization adapted from Fogg (2009)

Figure 5 Gamification Classification Own visualization adapted from Deterding, Dixon, Khaled, and Nacke (2011)

Figure 6 Player Types Own visualization adapted from Bartle (1996)

Figure 7 Concept of Flow Own visualization adapted from Nakamura and Csikszentmihalyi (2002)

Figure 8 A Player’s Journey Own visualization adapted from Marczewski (2013)

List of Tables

Table 1 This Thesis’ Case Study Analysis Approach Own work based on Eisenhardt (1989)

List of Abbreviations

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1 Introduction

According to a Gallup poll from 2013, worldwide only 13% of employees are engaged at work (Gallup, 2013). BlessingWhite (2011), again, found an amount of 31%. The difference is caused by variations of each one’s definition of “engagement” and maybe differs slightly due to the gap of years in which the opinion surveys were undertaken. However, both are extremely small figures. Furthermore, Gallup ascertained how dramatically employee engagement affects a business unit’s performance. As per their findings, the top-quartile units of the engagement ranking outperforms the bottom-quartile units amongst others by 21% in productivity and 22% in profitability as measured by their median (Gallup, 2013). This demonstrates of which crucial importance employee engagement is for their company.

Following Harter, Schmidt, and Keyes (2003), engagement is directly liked to Fredrickson’s “four positive emotions” joy, interest, contentment, and love (Fredrickson, 1998) and “frequent and immediate recognition for good work is important to create positive emotions that reinforce success” (Harter et al., 2003, p. 9). They key question is now how to support one of the positive emotions listed above. Harter et al. (2003) state, moreover, that interest is especially positively influenced when the employees’ opinions are heard and they are involved into the decision making process.

This thesis will focus on enhancing employee motivation and engagement in the internal innovation process by offering transparent influence in the process conducted on a gamified software platform. Hereby, not only the general employee motivation is aimed to rise but also, or even more importantly, the participation should generate new ideas, help the ideas to mature, and finally implement them. Ideas in this case can be suggestions to improve internal processes as well as new products or services – literally anything that helps the organization.

A rather new way to approach this objective is gamification. Gamification is “the use of game design elements in non-game contexts” (Deterding, Dixon, Khaled, & Nacke, 2011). It became a trending topic since the second half of 2010 (Deterding, Sicart, Nacke, O'Hara, & Dixon, 2011; Groh, 2012).

1.1 Relevance and Problem Statement

Gamification appeared in Gartner’s Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies (Pettey & van der Meulen, 2012) as seen in Figure 1. According to that, Gamification is supposed to reach its Plateau of Productivity between 2017 and 2022. Associated with this forecast, Gartner’s predicts that “by 2015, 50% of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes” (Gartner, 2011). On the other hand, they also say that “by 2014, 80% of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives primarily due to poor design” (Gartner, 2012). Obviously, there is a drive in the industry to tackle the “engagement issue”, especially in the innovation management, and gamification seems to be an attractive way (Gartner, 2011). Yet, the phenomenon is so recent and unexplored that superficial knowledge when implementing gamification in business processes might lead to a huge failure rate of addressing the management objectives (Gartner, 2012; Zichermann & Cunningham, 2011).

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Figure 1: Gartner’s Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies – modified from Pettey and van der Meulen (2012)

In this thesis it is to be questioned and examined whether those predictions are accurate why. It will be analyzed which kinds of motivation are applied at the workplace, what actually drives people’s motivation at the very place, why people play games, whether they help to engage more at work, and if yes, how this extra engagement can be applied best to improve the company’s innovative power.

1.2 Research Question

Since there are not enough profound case studies available, neither already published online nor provided by gamification software vendors, a quantitative analysis would exceed the scope of this thesis. It will follow a qualitative approach, instead.

Since it was already pointed out that gamification is one of the latest trends to face employee disengagement and the question of how ideas can be generated efficiently inside the company, the main research question is:

RQ: Is the gamification of the internal innovation process useful?

“Useful” refers to each company’s business objectives. Interviews with providers of gamified innovation software aim to identify the companies’ motivation for an implementation and to evaluate whether it paid off.

The goal is to assess if firstly, Gartner’s prediction of gamification as “the next big thing” according to its Hype Cycle is realistic and secondly, if employees actually engage more in the innovation process combined with more efficient ideation, idea development, and idea implementation outcomes.

1.3 Sub-Questions

Additionally to the main research question, there are two sub-questions which the thesis targets to answer. Firstly, it has to be clarified to what extent gamification as a platform serves the innovation management’s idea to internally crowd source parts of or even the entire service.

SQ1: How far do gamification and innovation management go together

And secondly, it is to be assessed, which ground rules have to be followed when implementing a gamification in a company’s internal innovation process:

SQ2: What are the best practices for an implementation of a gamified

SQ2 does not only treat the particular stages of the Innovation Funnel (e.g. Dooley & O'sullivan, 2007; Dunphy, Herbig, & Howes, 1996) but also the best practices of which game elements to apply (Zichermann & Cunningham, 2011), as well as the intended game dynamics (Wu, 2012), and whether they are going together with the Concept of Flow (Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002).

The sub-questions do not directly lead to an answer for the main question. However, they are no accessories but serve the purpose of providing an in-depth analysis of the applicability of gamification in the internal innovation process as well as delivering a comprehensive assessment of the different solutions available and where to implement the gamified elements for a promising innovation management.

1.4 Overview

Having mentioned this thesis’ relevance and research objectives in the introduction, a profound examination of literature streams follows.

In the theoretical foundation innovation management (chapter 2.1), human motivation (chapter 2.2), and gamification (chapter 2.3) are treated in depth. On the basis of the innovation funnel the innovation process is described. Afterwards, electronic brainstorming, an online idea generation tool, is introduced to demonstrate an information and communication technology-based solution for companies to deal with large amounts of suggestions. Afterwards, the human motivation is examined to figure out which kinds of motivation exist, how they can be enhanced, and which appears at the workplace. Gamification is firstly to be defined. In the next step, its origin is investigated and its working principles are highlighted before it is linked to the innovation process. Having set forth this foundation, the game design process is illustrated. For closure of the theoretical background, gamification’s major critiques are listed.

The methodology is described in chapter 3. This thesis’ research is based on Eisenhardt’s (1989) “Building theories from case study research”.

Following Eisenhardt (1989), firstly, the two different options open-ended and challenge-based innovation process are analyzed separately. In the next step they are compared with each other with the help of case studies as practical examples (chapter 4.2).

In the conclusion in chapter 5 the results are interpreted, relationships are identified, and the research and sub-questions are answered.

Finally, the limits of this thesis are pointed out (chapter 6.1) and a future outlook on research is given (chapter 6.2).

2 Theoretical Background

After a brief overview of how this thesis is structured, an introduction to its scientific body is given. A theoretical foundation is offered by innovation management, theory of human motivation, and gamification amongst others with the principles of game design and the utilization of the latter for business purposes when linking innovation management and gamification.

2.1 Innovation Management

Ever since Schumpeter’s theory of disruptive innovation (Joseph Alois Schumpeter, 1939; Joseph A Schumpeter, 2002) it became clear how essential proper innovation management and a progressive culture for a company actually are: If they are not sufficient, the competitive advantage vanishes, and in the worst case bankruptcy occurs (Joseph Alois Schumpeter, 1939). Competitive success is dependent upon an organization’s management of the innovation process and proposes factors that relate to successful management of the innovation process (e.g. Adams, Bessant, & Phelps, 2006).

After defining innovation the Innovation Funnel model will be presented. Given this visualization an example is shown how large or highly innovative companies deal with innovation where it is not possible anymore to simply offer a suggestion box. Instead a demand for a software application exists that is able to deal with great amounts of ideas, adjustments and improvements.

2.1.1 Classification of innovation

‘Innovation’ originates in the Latin word ‘innovare’[1], which means ‘to make new’[2]. Tidd, Pavitt, and Bessant (2001), however, define it more precisely in the business context as “a core process concerned with renewing what the organization offers and optimizing the way it generates and delivers its output”. The latter sum it up as innovation being “a process of turning opportunity into new ideas and of putting these ideas into widely used practice” which means again that innovation is not only about generating the ideas but most notably also establishing the practical use of it – whether it may be for example a product, a service, or just a minimal improvement of an already existing process.

Generally, creativity tends to result in new ideas which can be pursued until market or implementation maturity; or as Farid, El-Sharkawy, and Austin (1993) put it, creativity leads to “results in the generation of new and useful ideas or the combination of existing ideas into new and useful concepts to satisfy a need”.

2.1.2 The Innovation Funnel

To classify the different phases of an innovation process the innovation funnel model has been postulated (Dooley & O'sullivan, 2007; Dunphy et al., 1996; Flynn, Dooley, O'sullivan, & Cormican, 2003; Lenfle & Baldwin, 2007; O’Sullivan, 2002).

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Figure 2: Innovation Funnel – own work based on O’Sullivan (2002) , Lenfle and Baldwin (2007) , and Mindjet (Appendix C1)

As visualized in Figure 2, innovation evolves after various steps that the ideas have to pass. In contrast to the so called Stage Gate Idea-to-Launch Process (Cooper, 1990, 2008) the metaphorical funnel purposely does not have ‘stop and go’-barriers but instead a consistently narrowing shape, meaning that due to constant feedback, adjustments, and improvements some ideas do not get pursued any longer while others get substantiated and eventually merged.

Describing an idea’s journey until it becomes a valuable innovation for the company, the innovation funnel starts with the idea being handed in by the idea provider or idea generator (Dooley & O'sullivan, 2007). It gets pooled with other ideas that were handed in as some might overlap. Subsequently, the ideas are clustered into different categories such as department, product portfolio or process improvement suggestion, or divided into incremental or disruptive innovations (Joseph Alois Schumpeter, 1939). This sorting step in particular can be done by software when the idea provider is asked to choose from various options of categorizing it correctly. It might turn out, that different suggestions address the same identified problem. Afterwards, the idea is to be commented upon and evaluated in several feedback circles with possible adjustments by the provider if the feedback was helpful. Ideas that cannot fight off criticism in terms of feasibility, usefulness, or being able to capture a market will be dismissed permanently. At the end of the funnel typically the management decides whether the idea is to be implemented after validation by a prototype (Cooper, 2008).

In the following, the innovation funnel will be the framework which determines the stages in the innovation process. It is to be shown in which of those stages an information and communication technology (ICT) based platform can serve best: Where it should be applied and what features it should include so that the use of it and the innovation process’s efficiency can be maximized.

2.1.3 Electronic Brainstorming

One of those ICT solutions addressing a more efficient idea generation phase is electronic brainstorming (EBS). In order to be more creative, an interdisciplinary team is required to consist of people who are cross-functional, maybe even inter-organizational, and locally gathered (Flynn et al., 2003). Nowadays, with decentralized departments and geographically separated internal company units not being uncommon, it can be hard to gather an interdisciplinary team. Dealing with this trade-off between proximity and interdisciplinarity, an intranet platform where participants submit ideas and interact with each other virtually is the cheapest and most efficient approach (Barki & Pinsonneault, 2001). However, “team dispersion will moderate the positive relationship between goal striving and number of ideas generated” (Srinivasan, Maruping, & Robert, 2012). Brainstorming sessions can be hold remotely, yet still teamwork is guaranteed. Moreover, EBS has been designed to overcome some more typical brainstorming problems like production blocking (inhibiting others when talking oneself), evaluation apprehension (being afraid of instant negative feedback), and free riding (not participating productively) (Barki & Pinsonneault, 2001).

The performance of brainstorming can be measured in quantity or quality of ideas. Following Barki and Pinsonneault (2001), the most meaningful indicator of a group’s brainstorming performance is idea quality. According to them, brainwriting produces the higher quantity; brainstormings on the other hand, generate “more novel, effective, and creative” ideas. In contrast to brainstorming, brainwriting involves silently sharing written down ideas in groups (Heslin, 2009; VanGundy, 1984). Moreover, Barki and Pinsonneault (2001) state that idea quality and idea quantity are relatively independent from each other. However, EBS makes the frontiers between brainstorming and brainwriting vanish because, in fact, every participant is writing down the ideas like in brainwriting while the others can observe the idea postings in real-time and immediately react to it like in brainstorming.

Barki and Pinsonneault (2001) identified three factors that might affect EBS’s effectiveness. Firstly, group history determines to which degree the group has previously worked together. Here it applies that established groups with “meaningful history of working together” (Barki & Pinsonneault, 2001) show a significantly greater performance than individually selected for randomly mixed groups (Tuckman, 1965; Wheelan & Hochberger, 1996). Secondly, the extent of the brainstorming topic being “socially sensitive or controversial” (Barki & Pinsonneault, 2001) influences the participants’ engagement and commitment. If the trending topic is not sufficiently stimulating, individual and group performance in general decline (Karau & Williams, 1993; Pinsonneault & Heppel, 1997). Thirdly and finally, interposing contextual cues will increase the creative performance in brainstorming sessions (Amabile, 1983; Paulus & Dzindolet, 1993).

Additionally, Chen, Zhang, and Latimer (2010) found that groups with less free riders who act out so called social loafing generate results of higher quality than those with many of them because “group members tended to elaborate [more] on the ideas generated by co-workers” (Chen et al., 2010).

To put it in a nutshell, EBS combines some of the advantages of both brainstorming and brainwriting while, on top, offering decentralized working.

2.2 Understanding Human Motivation

After it has been elaborated in how far the early stages of the innovation process are depending on the participant’s drive to commit themselves it is to be shown where human motivation arises from and how it may be strengthened.

Motivation drives people to act. To enhance commitment and engagement in the innovation process, it is crucial to understand human motivation. In the following, the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) ((Deci & Ryan, 2002); earliest mentioned in Ryan and Deci (2000)) is going to be the basis for this approach. Even before, the different kinds of human motivation are demonstrated. It is to be analyzed which of those kinds happen to occur at workplaces.

2.2.1 Different Kinds of Motivation

“Comparisons between people whose motivation is authentic (literally, self-authored or endorsed) and those who are merely externally controlled for an action typically reveal that the former, relative to the latter, have more interest, excitement, and confidence, which in turn is manifest both as enhanced performance, persistence, and creativity (Deci & Ryan, 1991; Sheldon, Ryan, Rawsthorne, & Ilardi, 1997) and as heightened vitality (Nix, Ryan, Manly, & Deci, 1999), self-esteem […], and general well-being”, (Ryan & Deci, 2000). This quote is to show the scientifically proven advantages of being motivated. As stated above, high motivation is absolutely essential to perform well. When it comes to enhancing the employee’s performance in the corporate innovation process, most of the phrases listed are great influencing factors either directly like performance and creativity boosts or indirectly like strengthening self-esteem and general well-being.

Ryan and Deci (2000) distinguish between the different types of motivation as shown in Figure 3.

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Figure 3 – Self-Determination; own visualization adapted from Ryan and Deci (2000)

There are amotivation, extrinsic motivation with various sub-items, and intrinsic motivation. Matrix-wise they analyzed the different kinds of motivation in the categories regulatory styles, degree of self-determination, perceived locus of causality, and relevant regulatory processes.

Amotivation is characterized by a very low degree of self-determination, an impersonal perceived locus of causality, and regulatory processes being identified like being non-intentional, non-valuing, showing incompetence, and a lack of control. Intrinsic motivation, however, is quite the opposite: having a high degree of self-determination and being caused by respectively enforcing interest, enjoyment, and inherent satisfaction it is located at the other end of the scale via the different sub-items of extrinsic motivation. The latter goes from external regulation with compliance systems and external rewards and punishments up to a rather high degree of self-determination with awareness and synthesis with oneself as regulatory processes. To define intrinsic motivation Amabile (1993) suggests that “individuals are intrinsically motivated when they seek enjoyment, interest, satisfaction of curiosity, self-expression, or personal challenge in the work”; “Individuals are extrinsically motivated [however,] when they engage in the work in order to obtain some goal that is apart from the work itself”.

2.2.2 Self-Determination Theory

After the term “self-determination” occurred various times by now, the concept first mentioned by Ryan and Deci (2000) is to be defined next. It turns out that self-determination correlates positively with switching external motivation or even amotivation in the direction of internal motivation. Self-determination theory refers to “competence […], relatedness (Baumeister & Leary, 1995) and autonomy [appearing] to be essential for facilitating optimal functioning of the natural propensities for growth and integration, as well as for constructive social development and personal well-being” (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Since intrinsic motivation is searched for, at least one of the three categories has to be increased ceteris paribus.

Ryan and Deci (2000) argue that social-contextual events like feedback and rewards benefit the feeling of competence which again enhances intrinsic motivation. The fact that competence works as an intermediary between positive or negative feedback and a boost or a decline in intrinsic motivation is shown by Vallerand and Reid (1984).

To analyze the impact of different degrees of letting the ‘employees’ work autonomously, Ryan and Grolnick (1986) observed students’ intrinsic motivation as a reaction to different leadership respectively teaching styles of their teachers. Apparently, the more autonomy-supportive the teacher was (in contrast to being controlling), the higher was the students’ intrinsic motivation. The same also worked for the students at home, as a study of their parents’ attitude towards autonomic up-bringing has shown (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

According to Ryan and Deci (2000), to prove at least some intrinsic motivation “a secure relational base” or an affectionate relationship to others is necessary.

It turns out, the more competence someone has or is given credit for, the more autonomic-supportive the boss is, and having meaningful relationships to others the more one gets to the far right side of the self-determination degree scale in the direction of intrinsic motivation (having a look at Figure 3). However, Ryan and Deci (2000) argue that it is only possible to reinforce intrinsic motivation as long as the task is at least a bit interesting.

2.2.3 Organizational Psychology Types

There are not only differences of how human beings perceive tasks but Mindjet found out they also differ from each other in their organizational psychological way in a context of innovation (Appendix C1). In their understanding there are interferers, managers, knowledge officers, and engineers. Each of them has different intentions when and how to influence the innovation process. Moreover, the types are triggered to action differently. However, all of them are of crucial importance for an effective innovation process.

- Interferers take action automatically as soon as they realize something that does not fit their concept. They are the ones red-flagging problems and realizing improvement potential on an organizational level.
- Managers are keepers of the status quo and, thus, refuse to accept changes too easily. They are triggered when possible upcoming reforms are announced. The manager’s attainment for an organization is to question hasty reactions but still they are rather perceived as innovation blocking.
- Knowledge officers have a great network and know every howsoever small detail about the company, its performance, the internal organization, and the people. They are triggered soonest by direct confrontation with questions like “Did the company ever operate into this direction?” or “Who would you think is an expert in this field?”. Without bringing together the right people the innovation process is ineffective, without knowing earlier organizational efforts to solve various problems it is inefficient.
- Engineers have the professional knowledge. They are triggered by complex questions where expert knowledge is needed to make them feel irreplaceable what they eventually are.

Addressing the individual types can happen in different approaches. Managers might read company newsletters to overhear upcoming changes, an interferer acting as an idea provider has to spread his thoughts and advertise the platform to motivate colleagues to collaborate on his idea, offline advertisements like posters in the cafeteria make everybody aware of something happening, and finally, word-of-mouth advertising is very effectively performed by knowledge officers for example to mobilize engineers.

To conclude, when thinking about how to enhance employee’s motivation, it has to be considered who is needed for an effective innovation management and how those groups of people are triggered to join.

2.2.4 The Emergence and Possible Enhancement of Motivation

After understanding which type of motivation appears in which part of an employee’s work and how those types influence productivity as well as the different individual functional types in innovation processes, it is now to be shown how motivation evolves and how it might be strengthened.

Fogg (2009) established a model for persuasive design called “Fogg Behavior Model” (FBM). He states that “a person must have sufficient motivation, sufficient ability, and an effective trigger” that has to be pulled to make a target behavior happen.

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Figure 4 – Fogg Behavior Model; own visualization adapted from Fogg (2009)

As visualized in Figure 4 a certain combination of ‘enough’ (i.e. at least non-zero) motivation and the task’s simplicity respectively the person’s ability to deal with the task’s capability requirements can make a target behavior happen if triggered. If the motivation is higher, less ability/simplicity is needed. Nevertheless, there will not be any target behavior as long as no trigger is being pulled. The angular arrow shows that the higher both scales are, the more likely a target behavior occurs when it is triggered.

There are two obvious ways to enhance a requested behavior if a sufficient trigger is given: enhance motivation or the simplicity of the task. The latter can be achieved by simplifying the platform’s layout or training the employees in special workshops to make them being able to operate the software. Since this thesis is not about boosting user experience in web applications, the focus will be on the motivational aspect in the following.

However, the trigger cannot be left unconsidered in this discussion. A trigger can be both a big red button in an internal newsletter to click and try the platform, a constant reminder, or setting an example for employees of using the tool by the direct supervisor. The newsletter example shows how easily triggers can be set up. Creating a sufficient trigger with a minimum of effort for the employee himself is easier than ever before – in fact, it “just” has to be a button to click on – when working with a computer, anyways.

Identified motivators are pleasure and pain, hope and fear being characterized by the anticipation of the outcome, as well as social acceptance or rejection (Fogg, 2009). What the model is basically saying is, that if a person with the necessary skills to perform a requested task has enough pleasure to do so, has the possibility to observe the outcome of his effort, and is driven by social circumstances to do it, a trigger makes this person perform the task. Each of those categories can hereby be arranged in different intensities.

2.2.5 Categorization of Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation at the Workplace

“Motivation” is the aspect with which is going to be continued after the FBM has shown how it influences if a target behavior is being performed.

The predominant view suggested by psychologists and researchers of motivation psychology purposes that there is a negative correlation between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, in fact that extrinsic motivation counteracts intrinsic (Deci, 1971). It is proposed that if extrinsic incentives are provided for a certain task, intrinsic motivation for the very same task will decrease. However, there might also be interdependence between those two strictly separated motivation types which is rather reinforcing than disabling.

Amabile (1993) proposes, that “work performance depends (in addition to skill and contextual factors) on the individual’s level and type of motivation. A high level of technical quality (appropriateness) in the output requires a high degree of either intrinsic or extrinsic motivation (or both). A high level of novelty in the output requires a high degree of intrinsic motivation”. She concludes that intrinsic motivation is primarily needed for creative tasks while extrinsic motivation benefits to accomplish a “timely, complete, and useful [output]”.

As a result, Amabile (1993) distinguishes between two items: those that enhance creativity (hence, collaborate with intrinsic motivation) and those that do not, namely the undermining and the supporting one. Extrinsic items that seem to undermine creative work are constraints on how the work is to be done (even when only addressed by (monetary) rewards for doing it “right”), if one perceives the rewards as obligatory, as well as the expectation of getting negative evaluations of one’s ideas. Nevertheless, there is the second group, the supporting extrinsic items such as “reward and recognition for creative ideas, clearly defined overall project goals, and frequent feedback on the work”.

A few possibilities to enhance creativity, that Maslow and Stephens (2000) describe as “the universal heritage of every human being” and it just has to be teased out, will be listed here: visionary and enthusiastic leadership, financial and psychological support by the top management, an internal and external focus linked with an effective communication system, as well as a company’s willingness to commit to change and, therefore, a culture of change (Flynn et al., 2003). Moreover, Ward (2004) listed some more ways, amongst others namely searching for limitations and considering extreme possibilities, thinking divergent, as well as redefining goals. Completeness in ways to increase people’s or a company’s creative productivity, however, is not intended to be reached here because each person reacts differently to an incentive or environmental circumstance. According to Oldham and Cummings (1996) “participants […] produced the most creative work when they had appropriate creativity-relevant characteristics, worked on complex, challenging jobs, and were supervised in a supportive, non-controlling fashion”.

Moreover, it has to be considered that different people have different perceptions of different motivation items. What works for one person might not work for a second one. There is even a negative correlation between a person’s age and his degree of extrinsic motivation found in a study. It suggests that the older people are – respectively, the more progressed they are in their carrier – the less they are driven to receive recognition and achieve salary increases (Amabile, 1993). Thus, the personal attitude towards extrinsic motivations always has to be taken into account when such items are to be implemented.

The question that is now to be answered is if people actually use intended computer software. In the course of this thesis the question aims to be answered in terms of whether to use a simple physical suggestion box or an intranet platform and if the latter, how to make people using it.

Firstly, the suggestion box can be rejected due to apparent reasons like not being able to handle big masses of ideas coming up in big companies and/or very innovative ones because it is entirely inefficient to make the innovation team deal with so many paper sheets. Furthermore, a more profound collaboration in elaborating the ideas and developing them, an ICT-based platform is the better solution.

For the platform, Davis, Bagozzi, and Warshaw (1992) found that “perceived usefulness and enjoyment have significant effects on intentions to use the […] program” while there is a “significant positive interaction between usefulness and enjoyment”. They categorized perceived usefulness as an extrinsic item and enjoyment as an intrinsic one. It turned out that “usefulness was roughly four to five times more influential than enjoyment in determining intentions”. They conclude that people’s intentions to use computer software in their workplaces are mainly affected by the perceived usefulness, yet, that “insufficient satisfaction and enjoyment can undermine the adoption of otherwise productive computer systems”. The platform has to be effective because enjoyable but non-productive software will be used whatsoever (Davis et al., 1992).

To sum it up, Davis et al.’s (1992) findings mean for an internal online innovation platform that it, obviously, has to be effective, that items that make the application more enjoyable are very welcome, and that the communication of the platform’s usefulness has to be enthusiastic and supportive because it is always about the perceived usefulness and some employees might not see the comprehensive benefit of their own small contribution to the whole company’s innovation process.

Amabile (1993) suggests there are certain typically extrinsic items that go together with supporting intrinsic motivation which is primarily needed for creative tasks where extrinsic motivated commitment does not provide productive and useful work results. Offering extrinsic rewards does not necessarily counteract intrinsic motivation, however, there must not be any restrictions perceived because of them.

And finally, it cannot be disjointly separated whether motivation at the work place is extrinsic or intrinsic. What can be cherished is that jobs that demand a certain degree of creativity need employees with intrinsic motivation in order to perform properly.

2.3 Gamification

It has now been shown, that the requirements for an innovation platform are being simple to use, representing and organizational task that is perceived as useful, as well as providing an enjoyable work environment to benefit the company.

In a study by Gallup (2013) an alarming number of not engaged (not serving the company’s performance) or even actively disengaged employees (even harming the company by being under contract), namely 87%, was published. The motivation part of the thesis elaborates on how crucial employee engagement is. There is a correlation between employee engagement and various performance outcomes: amongst others there is a significantly positive correlation between employee engagement and profitability, productivity, customer ratings, and turnover as well as a significantly negative correlation to safety incidents, absenteeism, product defects, and even shrinkage meaning theft in this case (Gallup, 2013). Gallup (2013) finishes with “To win customers - and a bigger share of the marketplace - companies must first win the hearts and minds of their employees”.

One way to actively tackle disengagement is implementing gamification (Deterding, 2012). As mentioned in the introduction, gamification was invented to enhance employees’ enjoyment in the user experience (here with the platform) and maybe even encourage them to deliver more value for the company by aligning one of their goals, namely status, with the company’s goals which would be more or better ideas in this context (Deterding, 2012).

In the following, firstly, the origin of gamification will be described and why this rather recent phenomenon gets that much attention nowadays. Secondly, the whole working principle is pictured. In the next chapter, an explanation is provided why innovation management with an electronic brainstorming approach goes that well together with gamification.

2.3.1 Towards a Definition

Gamification is defined as “the use of game design elements in non-gaming contexts” (Deterding, Dixon, et al., 2011; Deterding, Sicart, et al., 2011; Groh, 2012). The term was not popular before the second half of 2010 where it was distributed and treated in several conferences and where the first industry players paid attention to it although it was actually first mentioned in the early 2000s (Groh, 2012) or in 2008 as Deterding, Dixon, et al. (2011) state. However, it is a rather recent phenomenon. To establish this definition that was introduced by Deterding, Dixon, et al. (2011) all aspects of the term will be treated individually.

There is a difference between playing and gaming (Caillois, 2006; Caillois & Halperin, 1955) ‘Playing (paidia; Ancient Greek)’[3], in fact, “denotes a more free-form, expressive, improvisational, even “tumultuous” recombination of behaviors and meanings, [whereas ‘gaming (ludus; Latin)’[4] ] captures playing structured by rules and competitive strife toward goals” (Deterding, Dixon, et al., 2011).

Next, game design elements have to be described. Reeves and Read (2009) identified Ten Ingredients of Great Games: “Self-representation with avatars; three-dimensional environments; narrative context; feedback; reputations, ranks, and levels; marketplaces and economies; competition under rules that are explicit and enforced; teams; parallel communication systems that can be easily configured; time pressure”. Although they are linked to games here in particular, each of them can be observed in another environment apart from games or even be treated individually – however, in that case they would not be recognized as ‘gameful’ (Deterding, Dixon, et al., 2011).

With non-game contexts every environment or situation is meant regardless of particular implementation intentions or the media used (Deterding, Dixon, et al., 2011).

Huotari and Hamari (2012) chose a service marketing perspective to approach a definition for gamification: “service packaging where a core service is enhanced by a rules-based service system that provides feedback and interaction mechanisms to the user with an aim to facilitate and support the users’ overall value creation” . This definition, however, which has first been published in a conference workshop proceeding (Huotari & Hamari, 2011), got “rejected” by Deterding, Dixon, et al. (2011) arguing amongst others that the rules-based system would be applicable to almost every other interactive system, “Even a touchpad for ordering snacks in a cinema would qualify as a “rules-based service system” (driven by software) “that provides feedback and interaction mechanisms” (people order through the interface, which confirms their orders) “with an aim to facilitate and support the users’ overall value creation” (the ability to order snacks enhances the movie experience)” (Deterding, Dixon, et al., 2011). Subsequently, Huotari and Hamari (2012) rephrased it saying gamification is “a process of enhancing a service with affordances for gameful experiences in order to support user's overall value creation”.

However, in the end, the definition of Deterding, Dixon, et al. (2011) is the most common in current research on gamification since it covers all important aspects and does not leave too much space for misinterpretations like the others did (Hamari, Koivisto, & Sarsa, 2014). Just as the term gamification is mostly used while different names for the same subject are existing (Deterding, Dixon, et al., 2011), for example productivity games (McDonald, Musson, & Smith, 2007), surveillance entertainment (Grace & Hall, 2008), or playful design (Ferrara, 2013).

2.3.2 Origin

To classify gamification amongst other types of game applications Figure 5 delivers a valuable visualization.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 5: Gamification Classification – own visualization adapted from Deterding, Dixon, et al. (2011)

Serious Games, for instance, have been wide spread far earlier for example in military war strategy trainings (Susi, Johannesson, & Backlund, 2007). At it, a non-entertainment (mostly strategy) game is spiked with game elements as single tasks to be fulfilled (Oja & Riekki, 2012; Susi et al., 2007). Whereas Toys do not serve any other purpose than playing (which was defined above), and Playful Design, on the one hand, only affects parts of the observed scenario/action/software but, on the other hand, again deals with “free-form, expressive, improvisational, even “tumultuous” recombination of behaviors and meanings” (Deterding, Dixon, et al., 2011), Gamification is a part of the scenario that follows a structured approach of striving to a predefined goal (Deterding, Dixon, et al., 2011).

As we had a focus on the word game originating in the Latin word ludus, it will now be examined where people’s willingness and even volition comes from to take part in games even at their workplace. Huizinga (1949) established a theory that the man is actually a homo ludens: “Man the Player” (respectively “gamer”). He argues that people think and act strategically not only as they do in games but games are even purposeful parts of living out gamefulness. Raessens (2006) and Juul (2012) chose another approach: They argue that game creating conforms the game characteristics in both video- and board-games to the desires of an older generation. Whereas earlier the only target group for video games has been juvenile men and boys, things have changed now and the industry found how huge the actual demand for more competence driven games with strategically and logically thinking is that serves a whole new target group and, therefore, market (Juul, 2012; Reeves & Read, 2009). Therefore, they propose just as Huizinga (1949) that the willingness to participate in games has always been there, it has just been revealed not too long ago which makes the market so fast growing at the moment (Juul, 2012).

The idea of applying gamification in business processes makes use of this great potential for people who are generally willing to participate in games (Reeves & Read, 2009).

2.3.3 How Gamification Works

The typical gamification approach considers different player types, contains various game design elements, and tries to create game dynamics that cause long-term enjoyment for the participants, mostly realized via an online platform (Deterding, Sicart, et al., 2011; Kumar et al., 2013; Moradian, Nasir, Lyons, Leung, & Sim, 2014; Wu, 2011; Zichermann & Cunningham, 2011).

Kevin Werbach invented the 6 D’s of the Gamification Design Framework (Werbach, 2013; Werbach & Hunter, 2012). Sticking to them should be the foundation of every application of gamification (Rauch, 2013). They are namely: “define business objectives, describe your players, delineate target behaviors, devise your activity loops, don't forget the fun, deploy the appropriate tools” (Werbach & Hunter, 2012).

This chapter is designed According to those 6 D’s. Firstly, the goal that is aimed at has to be defined. In the context of this thesis, it will be the innovation management, including the number of ideas as well as the ideas’ quality. After listing the different player types, primarily examined by Bartle (1996) who also addresses the player types’ typical target behavior, various different game elements are pictured. They provide the basis for the other game aspects such as game dynamics, i.e. the player’s individual journey through the game (Zichermann & Cunningham, 2011), and therefore, define the requirements that must be met by programmers when designing the application. Player Types

It is essential to understand the participants’ nature towards gaming. They may have entirely different intentions to join or not to join in and how they behave themselves as well as how they treat others. Particularly the latter may have serious consequences for the other participants (Deterding, Dixon, et al., 2011).

Bartle (1996) came up with a concept of distinguishing player types originally for video games. He categorized them into their way of acting of one’s own accord or interacting with other game participants and each of them attributed whether they rather care about other players or the game’s world as a whole (Figure 6).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 6: Player Types – own visualization adapted from Bartle (1996)

He found out that all of them interact in a certain way with each other, may it be on purpose or not. Moreover, those who have different attitudes towards all those player types react and interact differently towards and with each other, yet according to their own category. All of the following quotes and facts are taken from Bartle (1996).

- Killers, adding up to about 5% of the population, “are interested in doing things to people, i.e. in acting on other players; [they] are proud of their reputation”.
- “Achievers regard points-gathering and rising in levels as their main goal, and all is ultimately subservient to this; [while] Socializing is a relaxing method of discovering what other players know”. Their overall goal is to master the game. They are said to accept other achievers and face them in competitions because they all have the goal to be the best. However, when it comes to teamwork, achievers work together for the sake of completing the task comprehensively.
- Explorers have the most fun when interacting with the world. That may be trying to click on any button, performing “progressively esoteric actions in wild, out-of-the-way places, looking for interesting features (i.e. bugs) and figuring out how things work”. Moreover, they only collect points when it enables next stages that can be explored. “Explorers are proud of their knowledge of the game's finer points, especially if new players treat them as founts of all knowledge”.
- “Socializers are proud of their friendships, their contacts and their influence”, they find joy in “empathizing with people, sympathizing, joking, entertaining, listening […] – seeing them grow as individuals, maturing over time”. Socializers like achievers not exactly because they want to talk to them themselves but rather about them.

Concluding the information listed above, there will be different player types participating in gamified business software. It is essential to consider their particular preferences because they can be taken advantage of (Bartle, 1996). Looking at a gamified online innovation platform: Achievers who usually represent the biggest share are the ones that like, comment, and type in ideas to collect badges and see their names on a leaderboard. They are the ones for whom gamification was designed. Socializers, however, do not effectively take part in the ideation phase. Yet, they speak about other employees’ ideas during lunchtime making software and leaderboard to be on everyone’s lips which, again, stimulates achievers to work even harder to be the center of attention. Explorers are mostly helpful because they discover every little bug and tend to provide meaningful feedback to the software developers. Killers, finally, see it more as a sport, giving negative feedback to other people’s ideas to show off their superior knowledge. When they get too rough, it might affront the others and their enjoyment of the software possibly shrinks.

It is important that there are tools for every player type like badges for achievers, public leaderboards for achievers and socializers, chat-functions for socializers, maybe a “wiki” for explorers to show their knowledge and what they found out as well as a possibility to propose improvements, and comment-boxes for killers. That way, maximum efficiency can be retrieved from the platform enabling everyone to participate.

Reaching back to Mindjet’s organizational psychological types of employees (chapter 2.2.3), there are player types that interact differently with players and the gamified system itself as well as there are different organizational psychological types that play different roles in an organizational innovation context.


[1] Retrieved: 24.08.2014.

[2] Retrieved: 24.08.2014.

[3] Retrieved: 24.08.2014.

[4] Retrieved: 24.08.2014.

Excerpt out of 75 pages


Gamification of the Internal Innovation Process
An Examination of Literature Streams and a Case Study Analysis
Technical University of Munich  (TUM School of Management)
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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1095 KB
Gamification, Change Management, Innovation, Innovation Management, Employee Motivation, Gamify
Quote paper
Julius Schöning (Author), 2014, Gamification of the Internal Innovation Process, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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