Conversational Peers and Idea Generation: Evidence from a Field Experiment

50 Pages Posted: 9 May 2017 Last revised: 7 Jun 2017

See all articles by Sharique Hasan

Sharique Hasan

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Rembrand Koning

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Date Written: May 6, 2017


High quality ideas and the individuals who generate them are critical to the success of organizations. In this article, we take a micro-network perspective on idea generation and incorporate personality theory into a multi-level model of information acquisition and idea generation. We posit that innovator and peer personality are critical factors conditioning who will generate high-quality ideas, and that our proposed mechanisms have implications at both individual and team levels. Using data from a randomized field experiment embedded in a startup bootcamp for early-stage entrepreneurs, our findings show that innovators who are more open to experience do generate better ideas, but only when they converse with extroverted peers. Further, we find that teams populated with such openness-extroversion dyads perform substantially better--having both a higher pool of novel information and better recombinative capability with the team. We discuss implications for future research on the individual and social determinants of innovation.

Keywords: Creativity, Field Experiment, Personality

Suggested Citation

Hasan, Sharique and Koning, Rembrand, Conversational Peers and Idea Generation: Evidence from a Field Experiment (May 6, 2017). Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Working Paper, Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research Paper No. 17-36, Available at SSRN: or

Sharique Hasan

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Rembrand Koning (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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