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Idea Generation and the Quality of the Best Idea

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Author Info

  • Karan Girotra

    ()
    (Technology and Operations Management, INSEAD, 77305 Fontainebleau, France)

  • Christian Terwiesch

    ()
    (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104)

  • Karl T. Ulrich

    ()
    (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104)

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    Abstract

    In a wide variety of settings, organizations generate a number of possible solutions to a problem--ideas--and then select a few for further development. We examine the effectiveness of two group structures for such tasks--the team structure, in which the group works together in time and space, and the hybrid structure, in which individuals first work independently and then work together. We define the performance of a group as the quality of the best ideas identified. Prior research has defined performance as the average quality of ideas or the number of ideas generated, ignoring what most organizations seek, a few great ideas. We build a theory that relates organizational phenomena to four different variables that govern the quality of the best ideas identified: (1) the average quality of ideas generated, (2) the number of ideas generated, (3) the variance in the quality of ideas generated, and (4) the ability of the group to discern the quality of the ideas. We test this theory with an experiment. We find that groups organized in the hybrid structure are able to generate more ideas, to generate better ideas, and to better discern the quality of the ideas they generate. Moreover, we find that the frequently recommended brainstorming technique of building on others' ideas is counterproductive; teams exhibiting such buildup neither create more ideas, nor are the ideas that build on previous ideas better.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1090.1144
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 56 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 4 (April)
    Pages: 591-605

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:56:y:2010:i:4:p:591-605

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    Related research

    Keywords: creativity; brainstorming; innovation; idea generation; idea selection; team; group; individuals; nominal group; interactive buildup;

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    Cited by:
    1. de Rassenfosse, Gaétan, 2013. "Do firms face a trade-off between the quantity and the quality of their inventions?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(5), pages 1072-1079.
    2. Hirunyawipada, Tanawat & Paswan, Audhesh K., 2013. "Effects of team cognition and constraint on new product ideation," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(11), pages 2332-2337.
    3. Gambardella, Alfonso, 2013. "The economic value of patented inventions: Thoughts and some open questions," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 626-633.
    4. Ivo Blohm & Christoph Riedl & Johann F\"uller & Orhan K\"oroglu & Jan Marco Leimeister & Helmut Krcmar, 2012. "The Effects of Prediction Market Design and Price Elasticity on Trading Performance of Users: An Experimental Analysis," Papers 1204.3457, arXiv.org.

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