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The Impact of User Interface Design on Idea Integration in Electronic Brainstorming: An Attention-Based View


  • Javadi, Elahe

    (University of IL)

  • Gebauer, Judith

    (University of NC, Wilmington)

  • Mahoney, Joseph T.

    (University of IL)


This paper introduces an attention-based view of idea integration that underscores the importance of IS user interface design. The assumption is that presenting ideas via user interface plays a key role in enabling and motivating idea integration in electronic brainstorming (EBS), and thus advances productivity. Building upon Cognitive Network Model of Creativity and ability-motivation framework, our attention-based theory focuses on two major attributes of user interface: visibility and prioritization. While visibility enables idea integration via directing attention to a limited set of ideas, prioritization enhances the motivation for idea integration by providing individuals with a relevant and legitimate proxy for value of the shared ideas. The theory developed in this paper is distinct from previous research on EBS in at least two ways: (1) this theory exclusively focuses on idea integration as the desired outcome and studies it in the context of IS user interface; and (2) rather than debating whether or not EBS universally outperforms verbal brainstorming, the proposed theory revisits the links between user interface and idea integration as an attention-intensive process that contributes to EBS productivity. Idea integration by individuals within a group is an essential process for organizational creativity and thus for establishing knowledge-based capabilities. Lack of such integration significantly reduces the value of idea sharing, which has been a predominant focus of the EBS literature in the past. The current theory posits that the ability of electronic brain-storming to outperform nominal or verbal brainstorming depends on its ability to leverage information system (IS) artifact capabilities for enhancing idea integration to create a key pattern of productivity. The developed theory provides a foundation for new approaches to EBS research and design, which use visibility and prioritization, and also identify new user interface features for fostering idea integration. By emphasizing idea integration, designers and managers are provided with practical, cognition-based criteria for choosing interface features, which can improve EBS productivity. This theory also has implications for both the practice and research of knowledge management, especially for the attention-based view of the organization.

Suggested Citation

  • Javadi, Elahe & Gebauer, Judith & Mahoney, Joseph T., 2011. "The Impact of User Interface Design on Idea Integration in Electronic Brainstorming: An Attention-Based View," Working Papers 11-0102, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:illbus:11-0102

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