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Idea Generation, Creativity, and Incentives


  • Olivier Toubia

    () (Columbia Business School, Uris 522, 3022 Broadway, New York, New York 10027)


Idea generation (ideation) is critical to the design and marketing of new products, to marketing strategy, and to the creation of effective advertising copy. However, there has been relatively little formal research on the underlying incentives with which to encourage participants to focus their energies on relevant and novel ideas. Several problems have been identified with traditional ideation methods. For example, participants often free ride on other participants' efforts because rewards are typically based on the group-level output of ideation sessions. This paper examines whether carefully tailored ideation incentives can improve creative output. I begin by studying the influence of incentives on idea generation using a formal model of the ideation process. This model illustrates the effect of rewarding participants for their impact on the group and identifies a parameter that mediates this effect. I then develop a practical, web-based asynchronous “ideation game,” which allows the implementation and test of various incentive schemes. Using this system, I run two experiments that demonstrate that incentives do have the capability to improve idea generation, confirm the predictions from the theoretical analysis, and provide additional insight on the mechanisms of ideation.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivier Toubia, 2006. "Idea Generation, Creativity, and Incentives," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(5), pages 411-425, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:25:y:2006:i:5:p:411-425

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jonathan Levin, 2003. "Relational Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 835-857, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Hauser & Gerard J. Tellis & Abbie Griffin, 2006. "Research on Innovation: A Review and Agenda for," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(6), pages 687-717, 11-12.
    2. Pavel Kireyev, 2016. "Markets for Ideas: Prize Structure, Entry Limits, and the Design of Ideation Contests," Harvard Business School Working Papers 16-129, Harvard Business School.
    3. repec:wsi:ijimxx:v:21:y:2017:i:03:n:s1363919617500244 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:tpr:restat:v:99:y:2017:i:4:p:577-590 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:jbrese:v:94:y:2019:i:c:p:302-312 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Juanjuan Zhang, 2016. "Deadlines in Product Development," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(11), pages 3310-3326, November.
    7. Laura J. Kornish & Karl T. Ulrich, 2011. "Opportunity Spaces in Innovation: Empirical Analysis of Large Samples of Ideas," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(1), pages 107-128, January.
    8. repec:eee:joinma:v:31:y:2015:i:c:p:42-62 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. 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.
    10. Geum, Youngjung & Park, Yongtae, 2016. "How to generate creative ideas for innovation: a hybrid approach of WordNet and morphological analysis," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 176-187.
    11. Michael Gibbs & Susanne Neckermann & Christoph Siemroth, 2017. "A Field Experiment in Motivating Employee Ideas," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 99(4), pages 577-590, July.
    12. Barry L. Bayus, 2013. "Crowdsourcing New Product Ideas over Time: An Analysis of the Dell IdeaStorm Community," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(1), pages 226-244, June.
    13. Adler, Paul S. & Chen, Clara Xiaoling, 2011. "Combining creativity and control: Understanding individual motivation in large-scale collaborative creativity," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 63-85, February.
    14. Brüggemann, Julia & Crosetto, Paolo & Meub, Lukas & Bizer, Kilian, 2016. "Intellectual property rights hinder sequential innovation. Experimental evidence," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(10), pages 2054-2068.
    15. Robert E. Smith & Scott B. MacKenzie & Xiaojing Yang & Laura M. Buchholz & William K. Darley, 2007. "Modeling the Determinants and Effects of Creativity in Advertising," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(6), pages 819-833, 11-12.
    16. Steven M. Shugan, 2007. ": Does Good Marketing Cause Bad Unemployment?," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(1), pages 1-17, 01-02.
    17. Sanjiv Erat & Vish Krishnan, 2012. "Managing Delegated Search Over Design Spaces," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(3), pages 606-623, March.
    18. Zhenzhen Zhao & Damien Renard & Mehdi Elmoukhliss & Christine Balague, 2016. "What Affects Creative Performance In Idea Co-Creation: Competitive, Cooperative Or Coopetitive Climate?," International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 20(04), pages 1-24, May.
    19. repec:dau:papers:123456789/13752 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. repec:kap:mktlet:v:29:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s11002-018-9454-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Olivier Toubia & Laurent Florès, 2007. "Adaptive Idea Screening Using Consumers," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(3), pages 342-360, 05-06.


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