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Idea Generation and the Quality of the Best Idea

Author

Listed:
  • 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)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Karan Girotra & Christian Terwiesch & Karl T. Ulrich, 2010. "Idea Generation and the Quality of the Best Idea," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(4), pages 591-605, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:56:y:2010:i:4:p:591-605
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1090.1144
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andrew H. Van de Ven, 1986. "Central Problems in the Management of Innovation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(5), pages 590-607, May.
    2. Stylianos Kavadias & Svenja C. Sommer, 2009. "The Effects of Problem Structure and Team Diversity on Brainstorming Effectiveness," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(12), pages 1899-1913, December.
    3. Svenja Sommer & Stylianos Kavadias, 2009. "The Effects of Problem Structure and Team Diversity on Brainstorming Effectiveness," Post-Print hal-00491685, HAL.
    4. Van de Ven, Andrew R., 1986. "Central Problems in the Management of Innovation," Agricultural Research Policy Seminar 139708, University of Minnesota Extension.
    5. Ely Dahan & Haim Mendelson, 2001. "An Extreme-Value Model of Concept Testing," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(1), pages 102-116, January.
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    7. Jasjit Singh & Lee Fleming, 2010. "Lone Inventors as Sources of Breakthroughs: Myth or Reality?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(1), pages 41-56, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:tefoso:v:128:y:2018:i:c:p:67-73 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. 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.
    3. Kokshagina, Olga & Gillier, Thomas & Cogez, Patrick & Le Masson, Pascal & Weil, Benoit, 2017. "Using innovation contests to promote the development of generic technologies," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 152-164.
    4. Marco LiCalzi & Oktay Surucu, 2012. "The Power of Diversity over Large Solution Spaces," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(7), pages 1408-1421, July.
    5. 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.
    6. Dominik Mahr & Aric Rindfleisch & Rebecca Slotegraaf, 2015. "Enhancing Crowdsourcing Success: the Role of Creative and Deliberate Problem-Solving Styles," Customer Needs and Solutions, Springer;Institute for Sustainable Innovation and Growth (iSIG), vol. 2(3), pages 209-221, September.
    7. Mohan, Mayoor & Voss, Kevin E. & Jiménez, Fernando R., 2017. "Managerial disposition and front-end innovation success," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 193-201.
    8. repec:wsi:ijimxx:v:21:y:2017:i:03:n:s1363919617500244 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Guy Parmentier & Séverine Leloarne-Lemaire & Mustapha Belkhouja, 2017. "Female Creativity in Organizations: What is the Impact of Team Composition in Terms of Gender during Ideation Processes?
      [La creatividad de las mujeres en las organizaciones: ¿Cuál es el impacto de
      ," Grenoble Ecole de Management (Post-Print) hal-01700895, HAL.
    10. 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.
    11. Ivo Blohm & Christoph Riedl & Johann Fuller & Orhan Koroglu & 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.
    12. 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.
    13. Schweisfurth, Tim G., 2017. "Comparing internal and external lead users as sources of innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 238-248.
    14. Kevin J. Boudreau & Nicola Lacetera & Karim R. Lakhani, 2011. "Incentives and Problem Uncertainty in Innovation Contests: An Empirical Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(5), pages 843-863, May.
    15. Schemmann, Brita & Herrmann, Andrea M. & Chappin, Maryse M.H. & Heimeriks, Gaston J., 2016. "Crowdsourcing ideas: Involving ordinary users in the ideation phase of new product development," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(6), pages 1145-1154.
    16. repec:eee:joinma:v:35:y:2016:i:c:p:1-15 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. 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.
    18. repec:spr:amsrev:v:7:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s13162-017-0106-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Sophie Hooge & Albert David, 2014. "What makes an efficient theme for a creativity session?," Post-Print hal-00987220, HAL.
    20. repec:eee:ejores:v:262:y:2017:i:2:p:771-779 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Sanjiv Erat & Vish Krishnan, 2012. "Managing Delegated Search Over Design Spaces," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(3), pages 606-623, March.
    22. 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.
    23. L. G. Pee, 2016. "Customer co-creation in B2C e-commerce: does it lead to better new products?," Electronic Commerce Research, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 217-243, June.
    24. Melero, Eduardo & Palomeras, Neus, 2015. "The Renaissance Man is not dead! The role of generalists in teams of inventors," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 154-167.

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