The Future of Collective Innovation

Monday, February 13, 2017 - 11:00am
3110 Etcheverry Hall
Elizabeth Gerber, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Design and Faculty Founder, Design for America

McCormick School of Engineering

Northwestern University


Socio-technical infrastructure offers remarkable opportunities for improving innovation and the global economy by engaging geographically distributed and diverse individuals to identify, ideate, and implement new ideas, expanding the sources of innovation beyond the formal organization.  But it is also possible that collective innovation will fail to achieve its potential by becoming increasingly professionalized potentially raising the expectations for participation and failing to reach out to diverse networks, undermining participation from individuals who participate.  Can we foresee a future of collective innovation in which there is broad participation from identification to ideation and ultimately implementation? This talk frames the major challenges that stand in the way of this goal.  Drawing on theory from design engineering, social computing, and organizational theory, I outline a framework that will support collective innovation that is inclusive, collaborative, and comprehensive and highlight 4 challenge areas: Roles, Communication, Trust, and Reputation.



Dr. Liz Gerber serves as Associate Professor of Design in the School of Engineering and School of Communication, as Director of the Design Research Cluster, and as the Faculty Founder of Design for America at the Northwestern University. Dr. Gerber researches the role of technology and organization in the innovation process. Her work is generously funded by NSF, Microsoft, and the MacArthur Foundation. She received her PhD and MS in Management Science and Engineering and Product Design from Stanford University. Learn more about Dr. Gerber and her work at and connect with her on Twitter at @elizgerber.


Hosted by: Mechanical Engineering Department, 6141 Etcheverry Hall, 510-642-5867,