In a recent piece in The New York Times on essay contests being used as an alternative to traditional property sales, Network member Karim Lakhani of Harvard Business School is consulted as an expert in the field of open innovation. Although the contest in question – in which an inn in Maine was handed over to the person judged by the former owner to have written the best essay (along with a $125 entry fee) – raised many questions about the legality of the contest's rules, the potential for biased judging, and the like, Lakhani's contribution focused on the role and motivation of participants in such contests, which, in a different form, are also gaining steam in the public sector.
"Still, many seem undeterred. Karim Lakhani, an associate professor who studies online communities and contests at Harvard Business School, said social media and the Internet had made it easier for contests like these to reach a critical mass of people who are willing to pay a nominal fee for a chance.
"'This looks like a lottery,' meaning the risk is low and the reward high, Dr. Lakhani said. 'From the participation point of view, it’s ‘I can put in a few hundred bucks and get a chance to get a house.’ Who wouldn’t want to do that?'"