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Idea Generation and the Role of Feedback: Evidence from Field Experiments with Innovation Tournaments

Production and Operations Management (2015)

Posted: 13 May 2011 Last revised: 9 Dec 2016

Joel O. Wooten

University of South Carolina - Department of Management Science

Karl T. Ulrich

The Wharton School

Date Written: November 25, 2015

Abstract

In many innovation settings, ideas are generated over time and managers face a decision about if and how to provide in-process feedback to the idea generators about the quality of submissions. In this paper, we use design contests allowing repeated entry to examine the effect of in-process feedback on idea generation. We report on a set of field experiments using two online contest websites to compare the performance of three different feedback treatments – no feedback, random feedback, and directed feedback (i.e., in-process feedback highly correlated with the final quality rating of the entry). We posted six logo design contests for consumer products and accepted submissions for one week. We provided daily feedback during the contest period using one of the three treatments. We then used a panel of target consumers to rate the quality of each idea. We find that directed feedback is associated positively with agent participation. For outcome, while directed feedback benefits the average quality of entries submitted, we don’t find that relationship for the best entries – indeed, no feedback or random feedback may produce better top-end entry quality. We also find that, under directed feedback, the variance in quality declines as the contest progresses.

Keywords: innovation, tournament, contest, open innovation, crowdsourcing, feedback, idea generation, brainstorming, creativity

JEL Classification: M1, M13, M30, O3, O31, O32

Suggested Citation

Wooten, Joel O. and Ulrich, Karl T., Idea Generation and the Role of Feedback: Evidence from Field Experiments with Innovation Tournaments (November 25, 2015). Production and Operations Management (2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1838733 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1838733

Joel O. Wooten (Contact Author)

University of South Carolina - Department of Management Science ( email )

United States

Karl T. Ulrich

The Wharton School ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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