Creativity Under Fire: The Effects of Competition on Creative Production

69 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2018

See all articles by Daniel P. Gross

Daniel P. Gross

Harvard Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2018


Though fundamental to innovation and essential to many industries and occupations, individual creativity has received limited attention as an economic behavior and has historically proven difficult to study. This paper studies the incentive effects of competition on individuals' creative production. Using a sample of commercial logo design competitions, and a novel, content-based measure of originality, I find that intensifying competition induces agents to produce original, untested ideas over tweaking their earlier work, but heavy competition drives them to stop investing altogether. The results yield lessons for the management of creative workers and for the implementation of competitive procurement mechanisms for innovation.

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Suggested Citation

Gross, Daniel P., Creativity Under Fire: The Effects of Competition on Creative Production (September 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w25057. Available at SSRN:

Daniel P. Gross (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Harvard Business School
Soldiers Field Road
Boston, MA 02163
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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