Technological Innovation and Prize Incentives

Technological Innovation and Prize Incentives

The Google Lunar X Prize and Other Aerospace Competitions

Luciano Kay

In this in-depth study, Luciano Kay focuses on three recent cases of prize competitions in the aerospace industry: the Google Lunar X Prize, the Ansari X Prize and the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. Using a combination of real-time and historical analysis based on personal interviews, workplace visits and questionnaire and document data analysis, the author examines the particular dynamics of the prize phenomenon and offers a comprehensive discussion of the potential of prizes to induce innovation. This fascinating volume also sets out a systematic method to studying prize incentives, offering a concrete innovation model and case study design approach that will prove highly useful to further research efforts in the field.

Chapter 4: Methodological aspects

Luciano Kay

Subjects: innovation and technology, innovation policy, technology and ict, politics and public policy, public policy


This investigation approached the study of prizes following three key steps. First it developed a theoretical framework based on existing literature on prizes and innovation and accounts of recent prize experiences. This first step also contributed a new innovation model applied to the investigation of technology prizes. Second it tested and revised the model by analyzing retrospectively two pilot case studies of recent prizes. This step was important to strengthen the descriptive power of the model and refine the operationalization of categories. This process of model development also contributed empirical evidence to further substantiate next research steps and the findings of the main case study. The third step involved the investigation of the main case study, probed hypotheses and elaborated theoretical, policy and methodological implications. To accomplish its goal, this investigation pursued a field-based, mixed methods case study strategy combined with an iterative process to build explanations about the phenomenon and generate grounded theory (Eisenhardt, 1989; Yin, 2003). Different methods of data gathering such as direct observation, interviews, application of questionnaires and document analysis, as described in the following sections, helped to gather richer and more reliable data. The empirical examination of case studies followed an embedded multiple-case study design (Yin, 2003) combining multipleunits of analysis in two stages (Figure 4.1). There was a first stage with two pilot case studies and a second stage with a main case study. The first stage reduced the risk of focusing on a single case study and serves other purposes as well. It allowed defining more precisely the constructs involved in the model, determining the plausibility of the hypotheses, testing data sources, improving data gathering instruments and contributing insights for the main case study. Multiple embedded units of analysis in both stages provided richer data and more variation to analyze the prize cases.

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