Research Description


(under construction)

New Manuscripts

  • Innovation in Digital Marketplaces
  • Digital Mash-ups and Intellectual Property Rights
  • Incentives in Public Contests
  • Search Costs and Scientific Collaborations
  • Billion Dollar Enterprises

Under Review

  • Crowdfunding.
  • Historical Evidence on Platform Organization



  • Boudreau, K., K. Lakhani, M. Menietti. Performance Responses To Competition Across Skill-Levels In Rank Order Tournaments: Field Evidence and Implications For Tournament Design. RAND Journal of Economics (forthcoming).

(Theoretical models of) Tournament Theory typically emphasize that greater competition in a rank-order contest will diminish incentives to invest or exert effort by contestants. This paper uses Moldovan and Sela's (2001) very nice and simple theoretical framework to clarify that added competition will depress incentives for middle range competitors, but boost efforts among very highest skilled competitors. The key contribution of this paper and the part I am most delighted with is to have figured out how to isolate a quasi-experimental, flexible nonparametric estimate of response to competition across varying levels of skill--to illustrate that the performance of highest skilled competitors increases with added competition whereas that of less skilled competitors decreases. Parameters of the M&S model are then estimated structurally with these same data to consider counterfactuals of contest platform design. This is among the simplest of my papers, as it was possible to carry out this analysis only considering the structure of economic incentives, rather than having to worry about a series of other mechanisms at work.

  • Boudreau, K., and K. Lakhani (2015) Innovation Experiments: Researching Technical Advance, Knowledge Production and the Design of Supporting Institutions. In Innovation Policy and the Economy National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), volume 16, edited by Josh Lerner and Scott Stern. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

In the front end of this chapter, I sketched a rough and partial list of challenges that we have encountered in carrying out field experiments on innovation and technical change--thus far. The back end of this chapter summarizes aspects of existing published papers.

This paper presents the results of a field experiment in which multiple grant proposals were randomly assigned to multiple expert scientific evaluators. This paper was made possible because the people at the medical school were willing to alter features of a grant proposal process.The knowledge content of proposals, the expertise of evaluators and the knowledge content of the entire literature are codified to then study the effects of varying novelty of a proposal and effects of varying "intellectual distance" between an evaluator and a given proposal--hence my giving this the title of "looking beyond" and "looking across" the knowledge frontier. I have looked at these data up and down and sideways and find patterns to be consistent with theories of bounded cognition (and inconsistent with more basic models of statistical inference from noisy signals that are often used in economics and decision-theory, and inconsistent with theories of corrupt or self-interested or bias evaluators that have been frequently the source of speculation in past correlational studies). Even with the randomization used here, it should be emphasized (to future researchers) that it not possible to observe "true" quality of projects being evaluated, so a key aspect of research design is to design modes of inference that do not rely on observing a project's true quality. (NB. Danielle Lee has written a paper where she devises an elegant way to try to make progress on this problem.)


  • Boudreau, K., L. Jeppesen (2014) Unpaid Platform Complementors and the Network Effect Mirage. Strategic Management Journal.
  • Boudreau, K., K. Lakhani (2014) 'Open' Disclosure of Innovations, Incentives and Follow-on Reuse: Theory on Processes of Cumulative Innovation and a Field Experiment in Computational Biology. Research Policy.


  • Lakhani, K., K. Boudreau, L. Backstrom, C. Baldwin, P. Loh, E. Lonstein, M. Lydon, A. MacCormack, R. Arnaout and E. Guinan. (2013) Prize-based contests can provide solutions to computational biology problems. Nature Biotechnology. 31(2):108.
  • Boudreau, K., K. Lakhani. (2013) Using the Crowd as an Innovation Partner. Harvard Business Review. 91(4): 60-69. (Harvard Business Review McKinsey Award best paper finalist, 2013)
  • Guinan, E., K. Boudreau, K. Lakhani. (2013) Experiments in Open Innovation at the Harvard Medical School. MIT Sloan Management Review. 54(3): 45-52.
  • Boudreau, K. (2013) Does Opening a Platform Stimulate Innovation? The Effect on Systemic and Modular Innovations. MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 4611-06.


  • Boudreau, K. (2012) Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom? An Early Look at Large Numbers of Software “Apps” Developers and Patterns of Innovation. Organization Science. 23: 1409-1427.


  • Boudreau, K., N. Lacetera and K. Lakhani (2011) Incentives and Problem Uncertainty in Innovation Contests: An Empirical Analysis. Management Science. 57(5): 843-863. (Management Science best paper finalist)
  • Boudreau, K., K. Lakhani. (2011) The Confederacy of Heterogeneous Software Organizations and Heterogeneous Developers: Field Experimental Evidence on Sorting and Worker Effort. J. Lerner and S. Stern (eds.), The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity, 50th Anniversary Volume. National Bureau of Economic Research.


  • Boudreau, K. (2010) Open Platform Strategies and Innovation: Granting Access vs. Devolving Control. Management Science. 56(10): 1849-1872.


  • Boudreau, K., A. Hagiu. (2009) Platforms Rules: Multi-sided Platforms as Regulators. A. Gawer, ed. Platforms, Markets and Innovation. Edward Elgar, London.
  • Boudreau, K., K. Lakhani. (2009) How to Manage Outside Innovation: Competitive Markets or Collaborative Communities? MIT Sloan Management Review. 50(4): 69-75.


  • Casadesus-Masanell, R., K. Boudreau and J. Mitchell. (2008) Palm (A): The Debate on Licensing Palm's OS (1997).
  • Casadesus-Masanell, R., K. Boudreau and J. Mitchell. (2008) Palm (B): 2001.
  • Casadesus-Masanell, R., K. Boudreau and J. Mitchell. (2008) Palm (C): 2005.
  • Casadesus-Masanell, R., K. Boudreau and J. Mitchell. (2008) Palm (D): Epilogue as of 2008.
  • Francioli, S., K. Boudreau. (2008) The Commercial Space Business: EADS Astrium.
  • Blasco, A. and K. Boudreau. (2011) Growing a Platform.
  • Boudreau, K. (2015) The Economist Corporate Network. (unpublished)