Students given incentives to innovate are just as skilled as the self-motivated, research finds.
What are the traits of an innovator? Is it an inherent or learned quality? Existing theories and empirical research on how innovation occurs largely assume that it is an ingrained quality of the individual and that only people with this innate ability seek and attain jobs that require it; however recent research from the University of California San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy shows this isn’t the case.
Economist Joshua S. Graff Zivin and professor of management Elizabeth Lyons tested these previously held notions by creating a contest for UC San Diego’s engineering and computer science students. The competition, outlined in their National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, was designed to answer the question: Are persuaded innovators less capable than those who naturally gravitate to innovative activities?
The mobile application contest was advertised through various medium on campus and attracted around 100 students. In order to differentiate between self-selected innovators and “induced” innovators, a random subset of eligible students who did not sign up by the contest deadline were offered a monetary incentive of $100 to participate. In total, 190 students signed up.
Submissions between the two groups were evaluated by technology industry participants who acted as judges for the contest and who had no knowledge of which group the proposals came from. The judges evaluated each application across four categories; functionality, user-friendliness, novelty and potential commercial value.
Though induced participants were less likely to be drawn from majors that provide the most relevant skills for the competition, such as electrical engineering and computer science, and had lower cumulative GPAs, their success was statistically indistinguishable from those that were innately drawn to the competition.
Whether innovators can be created, and how they fare relative to those who self-select into innovative activities, also has important implications for public and private policy, according to the authors.
“If individuals are being held back by accurate beliefs about their ability to perform, as our results suggest, then efforts to help individuals overcome the psychological barriers that inhibit their participation could potentially enhance innovative output across a wide range of settings,” said Graff Zivin. “This shows that psychological barriers, if overcome, could meaningfully contribute to the innovation process.”
Contest entries were scored from 1-5 on each category for a total score maximum of 20. The developers of the top three applications were awarded prize money.
“We selected students at UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering since these students have technical capabilities to produce impactful inventions,” Lyons said. “In addition, engineers are frequently the targets of interventions to increase innovative activity.”
To further explore the psychological factors of innovation, the researchers randomly offered encouragement to subsets of both the induced and self-selected contest participants in order to examine the importance of confidence-building interventions on each sample. While encouragement had no impact on performance on average and was not differentially important for the induced sample, the authors did find surprising results based on student GPA.
Students with above-median GPAs performed significantly worse when they received additional encouragement, whereas students with below- median GPAs performed significantly better when they received additional encouragement.
“More work is needed to understand the precise mechanisms that explain the effects of encouragement, but they introduce a small nuance to our conclusions,” said Lyons, whose current research projects include using data to analyze firm hiring and organization. “While our work clearly suggests that innovators can be created through inducement subsidies, whether they will also benefit from the confidence-building encouragement of the sort that is standard management practice in many firms may well depend on both their technical capabilities and intrinsic motivation to succeed.”
Debby Buchholz Appointed Managing Director of La Jolla Playhouse
The Board of Trustees of La Jolla Playhouse announced today the appointment of Debby Buchholz as the Playhouse’s new managing director. Buchholz has served as the Playhouse’s General Manager since 2002 and will begin her duties in this new role on May 1.
“Debby Buchholz’s integrity, professionalism and visionary leadership in the field are unmatched. Her deep institutional knowledge, along with her passionate support for our artistic mission, makes her the ideal partner for artistic director Christopher Ashley,” said La Jolla Playhouse Board Chair Lynelle Lynch. “The Board looks forward to celebrating this new leadership team that will continue to strengthen La Jolla Playhouse’s place at the forefront of the American theatre landscape.”
“Debby’s extraordinary leadership – both locally in the San Diego community and nationally through her work with LORT, the largest professional theatre association in the country – are an invaluable asset to the organization. For the past ten years, I have witnessed Debby’s incredible dedication to the Playhouse, as well as her unflagging enthusiasm for the work we do on stage and off, and I couldn’t be more pleased to partner with her in this new role,” noted Ashley.
In partnership with the Artistic Director, the managing director is responsible for directing overall strategic planning, financial management, marketing, development, production management and labor relations for the organization."
San Diego Center for Jewish Culture hosts political commentator Sally Kohn
The San Diego Center for Jewish Culture (SDCJC) has announced it is hosting popular political commentator Sally Kohn for a one-night, non-denominational, secular speaking event at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center (JCC) Jacobs Family Campus in La Jolla on May 3 from 7 to 8 p.m.
The event is appropriately titled "Community Divided, Humanity United," a message Kohn advocates in her soon-to-be-released book “The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity." The event is generously funded by the County of San Diego’s Community Enhancement program.
"We are thrilled to be partnering with Sally for this poignant night focused entirely on unification, a sentiment the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture advocates strongly in everything we do,” said Brian Garrick, JCC’s cultural arts programs director. “The goal is to bring together diverse, and often marginalized, groups for an honest conversation about the ‘epidemic of incivility’ as well as real-world solutions to curb hate. Sally’s message of compassion and kindness is something that everyone needs to hear.”
A political commentator and columnist for CNN and previously a contributor to Fox News, Kohn is known for her ability to make friends across the political aisle.
Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine to host 27th annual Mama’s Day tasting extravaganza
The 27th annual Mama’s Day, benefiting Mama’s Kitchen, is scheduled for Friday, May 11 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine located at 3777 La Jolla Village Drive. The fundraising event, held the Friday evening before Mother’s Day features more than 50 chefs offering distinctive tastes ranging from San Diego’s finest restaurants to our city’s top-of-the-line hotels and catering companies who graciously prepare delicious samples for nearly 600 attendees.
Mama’s Day is often touted as the original San Diego tasting event and helps to raise critical funds for Mama's Kitchen's mission to deliver three hot, nutritional meals a day, seven days a week and free of charge to local women, men and children vulnerable to hunger due to HIV, cancer or other critical illnesses. Last year, Mama’s Day raised $178,900, which provided 56,794 home-delivered meals to Mama’s Kitchen’s clients. This year, the event aims to raise $215,000 which will provide 73,000 meals to San Diego’s critically ill neighbors.
Guests will enjoy food, live music from Bonnie Foster Productions, and fun throughout the evening while dining on distinctive dishes graciously prepared and served by executive chefs from the region’s top restaurants. At this San Diego tasting event, guests are also encouraged to bid on an extensive silent auction or purchase a chance to win fabulous prizes in an opportunity drawing to help raise critical funds for those most vulnerable to hunger in San Diego County.
Presented by Nordstrom and hosted by Sycuan, Mama’s Day pre-sale tickets are available for just $150 per person and $175 at the door. Premium VIP tickets are available for $250 each and include early access at 5:30 p.m. to an exclusive VIP dining area and pre-party featuring a private cooking presentation by this year’s culinary host and longtime Mama’s Kitchen supporter, Emmy award-winning chef and author, Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien, as well as a performance from the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus. VIP guests will also enjoy a full hosted bar for two hours.
Tickets may be purchased online at mamaskitchen.org. Sponsorships are available, and there are opportunities for chefs and restaurants to participate.
For more information, contact Geraldine Zamora at 619-233-6262 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rotary’s Quintessential Craft Beer & Wine Festival on April 28 to benefit multiple charities
San Diegans are invited to attend La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary’s 5th Annual Quintessential Craft Beer & Wine Festival on Saturday, April 28 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Nobel Athletic Fields on 8810 Judicial Drive near Interstate 805.
This dog-friendly event features access and unlimited samples from more than 30 local and regional breweries, distilleries, and wineries as well as other local vendors. This year, the breweries include Abnormal Beer Co, Ballast Point, Karl Strauss, Kilowatt, Second Chance, and many more. Be sure to also check out Malahat Spirits & Blinking Owl Distillery.
Tickets cost $30 in advance, $40 at the door and $15 for active duty military. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefit 45 local and international humanitarian projects stewarded by nearly 100 members of the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club.
Among the many beneficiaries of funds raised by the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Quintessential Festival are The Preuss School UCSD, VA Hospital, Ronald McDonald House and projects benefitting local active military and their families. International efforts include the Rotary Jalalabad School in Afghanistan, and humanitarian projects in India, Africa, Israel and recently, the provision of blankets for refugees arriving under emergency conditions in Macedonia.
For more information, visit lajollagtrotary.org.
‘Breakpoint’ authors to speak at DG Wills Books
Eminent ecologist Jeremy B.C. Jackson and award-winning journalist Steve Chapple will discuss their timely new book “Breakpoint: Reckoning with America’s Environmental Crises” on Sunday, May 6 at 2 p.m. at D.G.Wills Books, located at 7461 Girard Ave.
“Breakpoint” provides an insightful look at the American environmental crisis and emerging solutions from the heartland to the coasts in the era of global climate change. Jeremy B. C. Jackson and Steve Chapple traveled the length of the Mississippi River interviewing farmers, fishermen, scientists, and policymakers to better understand the mounting environmental problems ravaging the United States.
Along their journey, which quickly expands to California, Florida, and New York, the pair uncovered surprising and profound connections between ecological systems and environmental crises across the country. Artfully weaving together independent research and engaging storytelling, Jackson and Chapple examine the looming threats from recent hurricanes and fires, industrial agriculture, river mismanagement, extreme weather events, drought, and rising sea levels that are pushing the country toward the breaking point of ecological and economic collapse.
Yet, despite these challenges, the authors provide optimistic and practical solutions for addressing these multidimensional issues to achieve greater environmental stability, human well-being, and future economic prosperity. With a passionate call to action, they look hopefully toward emerging and achievable solutions to preserve the country’s future.
“Moving, poignant, and timely, ‘Breakpoint’ is both a stark reminder of the urgent environmental challenges facing the planet and a hopeful call to action to those in power. This is boots-on-the-ground science at its finest," said actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio.
“‘Breakpoint’ is a stunning book of ecological anthropology from consummate storytellers. The human narratives they bring to light allow us to understand and appreciate how America farmed, drilled, degraded, and overheated the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is fair, compelling, and heartbreaking, as good as anything written by Margaret Mead or Claude Levi Strauss,” said Paul Hawken, author of “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.”
Jeremy B. C. Jackson is an emeritus professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and senior scientist emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution. Steve Chapple is an award-winning author and writer of the national newspaper column “Intellectual Capital.” His previous books include “Kayaking the Full Moon” and “Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run.”
For more information, visit dgwillsbooks.com.