The hackathon format: an analysis of its possible interpretations under a service design perspective

Amalia De Götzen, Luca Simeone, Begum Becermen, Nicola Morelli, Joanna Saad-Sulonen

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In the last decade, many different participatory spaces emerged in the cities’ ecosystems, from makers/hackers spaces to hack-labs, actively contributing to the creation of Public Innovation Spaces (Manzini & Staszowski, 2013) and increasingly adopting design enabled innovation in different forms, to produce new solutions to emerging problems (Anonymous for reviewing). Among the different participatory activities in such places, hackathons have emerged as a format to gather participants and jointly work on issues of common interest, or even to propose the design of new services. The format of the hackathon has changed over time, from spontaneous and self-organized gatherings up to structured and professionally organized corporate sponsored events. This paper intends to explore this phenomenon by reflecting over the experience of the authors as participants or organizers of 5 hackathons that took place between 2011 and 2017. The paper will analyse the way in which these hackathons were prepared and run and how their different formats affected both the selection of participants and the outcomes of the hackathons. Related issues such as self-organization vs. top-driven governance will also be investigated to propose some considerations on the creative serendipity one would expect from such events.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDS 101: Proceedings of NordDesign 2020, Lyngby, Denmark, 12th - 14th August 2020 : Balancing Innovation and operation
EditorsN.H. Mortensen, C.T. Hansen, M. Deininger
Number of pages12
PublisherDesign Society
Publication dateAug 2020
ISBN (Electronic)9781912254088
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020
EventNordDesign 2020 - Lyngby, Denmark
Duration: 12 Aug 202014 Aug 2020


ConferenceNordDesign 2020
Internet address


  • Hackathons
  • Participation
  • Innovation


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