Improving Productivity through Corporate Hackathons: A Multiple Case Study of Two Large-scale Agile Organizations

by   Nils Brede Moe, et al.

Software development companies organize hackathons to encourage innovation. Despite many benefits of hackathons, in large-scale agile organizations where many teams work together, stopping the ongoing work results in a significant decrease in the immediate output. Motivated by the need to understand whether and how to run hackathons, we investigated how the practice affects productivity on the individual and organizational levels. By mapping the benefits and challenges to an established productivity framework, we found that hackathons improve developers' satisfaction and well-being, strengthen the company culture, improve performance (as many ideas are tested), increase activity (as the ideas are developed quickly), and improve communication and collaboration (because the social network is strengthened). Addressing managerial concerns, we found that hackathons also increase efficiency and flow because people learn to complete work and make progress quickly, and they build new competence. Finally, with respect to virtual hackathons we found that developers work more in isolation because tasks are split between team members resulting in less collaboration. This means that some important, expected hackathon values in virtual contexts require extra effort and cannot be taken for granted.


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