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Research Hackathon

Research Hackathon

Report and Photos from the 2018 Research Hackathon in La Crosse, WI


X-Culture is collecting huge amounts of data. We are tracking over 2,000 variables: longitudinal, multi-level, multi-source, multi-method. Just about anything related to international teams and virtual collaboration – we measure it.

We have dozens of papers in development based on the data, but there are definitely many more good publications hidden in our database.

Additionally, I have been collecting datasets as part of the “mega-analysis” study and have now amassed over 100 original datasets related to measurement of culture and cross-cultural team dynamics. This project is now morphing into the data sharing platform. It is expected that this crowdsourcing approach will allow us to create a huge depository of data related to various International Business topics and beyond.

The problem is that even though over 480 IB professors have participated in X-Culture and most of them are interested in research, we never have time to talk about research. When we meet at conferences, we run from a presentation to presentation and don’t have time to sit down and talk about new research papers.

Plus, at conferences, we never have time to just sit down and talk. We run from a session to session for several days and come back home, at best, with a bunch of business card and don’t even remember the people who gave us those cards.

As you know, the 2016 AIB-SE conference was on a cruise ship. That experience was different. Quite a few X-Culture professors attended the meeting and we got to know each other much better and we spent much more time talking about research ideas and collaboration. Instead of running from a session to a session, we had breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. We had a day off on Cozumel where we went (together) to see ancient Mayan ruins, crocodile sanctuaries, snorkeling, played golf, attended performances, had lovely discussions about work and life, and more.

In those few days, we had gotten to know each other more than in the previous few years of communicating online and seeing each other at conference sessions. Plus, we brought home lots of interesting research ideas that came from those discussions.

So I would like to organize (and possibly make it a regular event) what I now refer to as “The X-Culture Research Hackathon” (alternative name X-Culture Research Incubator, or X-Culture Paper Development Workshop).


Traditionally, the researchers have been working alone or in small co-author teams. They would collect (or buy) they own data, analyze them, and write papers. This model is very limited. A person can have only so many ideas and has only so many hours a day to write papers based on those data.

As a result, most datasets are never fully utilized. Many great discoveries remain undiscovered.

We can do much better by crowdsourcing the discovery process and making paper development open-source.

We already have all the components in place:

  • A huge open collaboration/competition platform that generates huge amounts of data (X-Culture)
  • A platform for data publishing and sharing which will soon allow for accessing hundreds or even thousands of other datasets (WikiDemix)
  • The initial crowd of researchers (about 500 professors and tens of thousands of graduate students in the X-Culture network, many more are likely to join once we issue a call)

All we need to do is to provide a platform for these many researchers to access these data deposits and collaboratively mine them for new discoveries.


  • X-Culture (and later WikiDemix) data are made available to the general public,
  • researchers interested in international HR/OB come to the conference,
  • intensively brainstorm ideas for papers based on the data,
  • get feedback on the ideas,
  • select the most promising ones,
  • present and critique them,
  • debate research designs and share suggestions,
  • form co-author teams,
  • run preliminary tests,
  • present preliminary results and get more feedback and suggestions,
  • finalize the story to be told in the paper,
  • put together a detailed paper outline or even the first very rough draft,
  • all while devoting enough time for socializing and forming strong personal and professional connections,
  • > and go home with a paper idea, a co-author(s), initial results, and main points already typed up.

Then spend the next few months finishing up the paper in time for the AIB or AOM conference, and then to a journal shortly after.

Just like a regular conference in terms of time and cost, but with a much more publishable outcome and much richer professional connections.

A virtual hackathon is also an option, though I’d like to start with a more personal face-to-face meeting and networking.



The idea is to organize a professional meeting that is similar to a conference in terms of the length and cost, but the output will not be a stack of faceless business cards but with:

  • Fully a developed paper idea(s) and outline of the first draft
  • Co-authors, fully acquainted professionally and personally
  • Completed initial tests and results in support of the hypotheses
  • Detailed and honest feedback and suggestions for further improvement
  • A detailed plan, agreed-upon with co-authors, to finish up the paper and submit it shortly after the meeting


To achieve the goal, the program will look something like this:

Day 0

  • Arrival, Welcome Dinner, Introduction to the X-Culture database (and possibly more databases in the future), and overview of the research already in progress
  • Homework: Think about possible new paper ideas based on the available data

Day 1

  • Breakfast, socializing, initial informal discussions about possible papers
  • Session 1: Initial brainstorming of ideas for papers based on the available data
    • What would be a good publishing paper?
    • Where could it be published?
    • What are the possible problems and how to overcome them?
  • Extended lunch and socializing and informal discussion of the research ideas
    • g., a round of amateur golf together
  • Session 2: Discussion, criticism, defense, and selection of the most promising paper ideas and forming co-author teams
    • What are the most promising paper ideas from those discussed earlier?
    • Where could it be published?
    • If I were a reviewer, I’d like/not like/expect to see in this paper
    • Anyone wants to team up as co-authors to work on these papers?
  • Extended dinner, socializing, and further informal discussion of the paper ideas
    • g., A cocktail reception
  • Homework: Think about the research design, data mining to see if there is something there

Day 2

  • Breakfast, socializing, informal discussions about the proposed research ideas
  • Session 1: Presentations of the intended paper proposals, critique and suggestions
    • Relevance of the issue
    • Research questions
    • Theory/Hypotheses
    • Proposed research design
    • Expected findings based on the initial data mining
    • Expected challenges
      AUDIENCE: critique, suggestions
  • Extended lunch and socializing and informal discussion of the research ideas
    • g., picnic, BBQ
  • Session 2: Initial data analysis and tests
    • Work alone or in co-author teams in separate rooms or in a large computer lab
    • Try to run some simple initial tests (correlations, mean differences, initial regressions, etc.)
    • If questions arise about the data, most suitable variables, scales – ask for clarifications
    • If technical questions arise about the method, ask the more skilled statisticians to help
  • Extended dinner, socializing, and further informal discussion of the paper ideas
    • g., at a local restaurant
  • Homework: Prepare presentation of the preliminary results

Day 3

  • Breakfast, socializing, informal discussions about the papers in development
  • Session 1: Presentations of the initial results
    • Theory/Hypotheses
    • Tests
    • Preliminary results
    • Challenges encountered, solutions considered

AUDIENCE: critique, suggestions

  • Extended lunch and socializing and informal discussion of the research ideas
    • g., sailing on the lake or a visit to a local art exhibition
  • Session 2: Intensive paper development: Further tests, paper outline
    • Work alone or in co-author teams in separate rooms or in a large computer lab on further analyses
    • Develop and extended paper outline with a clear plan for what points will be included in each paper session
  • Gala Dinner and Closing Ceremony
    • g., at a local restaurant
    • Final quick presentations of the work done:
      • Research questions
      • Initial results
      • Intermediate conclusions
    • Most Promising Paper Award
  • Homework: Develop a detailed plan with deadlines for finishing up and submitting the paper to AOM/AIB in late Fall and a good journal shortly after.

Day 4

  • Farewell breakfast
  • Departure
  • Or stay for
    • more work on the papers
    • a full-day sightseeing trip/hike



The program may also include sessions around meet the editors, latest research methods, productivity training, and other skill and career development events.


Group size: 

For the first test-run in Miami (see Timing), we would like to limit the size of the group to about 10-15, by invitation only.

It is not clear what the optimal group size for the subsequent full-scale events should be. There is a big advantage in keep the group small, at about 15-25 people. This will allow for getting to know each other and forming close long-term ties and partnerships.

Alternatively, it may be a good idea to make the group larger, perhaps even as large as possible. The more people, the more ideas.

However, we definitely do not want to turn this into yet another gigantic conference where people run from one session to another and spend most of their time name tag hunting. So we would still want to organize the event in a way that people are split into small tracks or cohorts of 15-25 by the topic or paper. Some events could be for the entire conference (e.g., data presentation, award ceremony, professional development workshops), but Each cohort would spend most of the time together, get to know each other, form closer ties and partnerships, as if it is a smaller boutique event for them.


Type of attendees: 

It is probably best to keep the event open to everyone. An event like this would probably be of the greatest value to those who are interested in publishing, already have the necessary skills, but have not worked out routines that make them highly productive publishing machines. These could be mid-career already experienced but still very research active academics, junior colleagues and possibly even talented Ph.D. students. We will also want to invite at least a few highly experienced and published colleagues, as well as Editors or Editorial Board members of relevant journals.


Past meetings: Miami, July 15-19, 2017

Future meeting: Lacrosse, WI, June 21-24, 2018 (right before the Academy of International Business Annual Meeting)

Report and Photos from the 2018 Research Hackathon in La Crosse, WI