How Does the Focus of Proactive Behavior Affect Decentralized Idea Selection?: A Field Experiment
Posted: 2 Feb 2022
Date Written: December 3, 2021
Idea evaluators in organizations need to consider a multiplicity of audiences and stakeholders when evaluating ideas, which requires them to focus on these stakeholders' needs and take their perspectives. In this paper, we argue that framing of the idea evaluation task can be a powerful tool to steer the evaluation process. Existing research has looked at how framing can affect a single idea's evaluation but has not investigated whether framing can affect the evaluation criteria underlying the evaluation process. We investigate whether framing idea evaluators in terms of benefitting stakeholders can change the outcome of the idea evaluation process in terms of the number of selected ideas. Specifically, we investigate whether evaluators change their idea evaluation criteria depending on whether they are being framed to take an pro-organizational focus in the idea evaluation process, a pro-social focus in the idea evaluation process, or a neutral focus in the idea evaluation process, and select more or less ideas, respectively. To answer these questions, we conduct an explanatory RCT in a natural setting, in which a firm uses internal crowdfunding to generate and select ideas. During the idea generation phase, all 7,800 employees from the company's research department were invited to submit ideas. Subsequently, 510 employees evaluated the ideas by allocating a total budget of 500,000 Euros to one or more ideas. To test whether taking different audiences into account during idea evaluation changed the outcomes of the process, we randomly allocated evaluators to one of three intervention groups (pro-organizational (treatment 1) vs. pro-social (treatment 2) vs. control). We find significant differences between these groups in how they evaluate ideas.
JEL Classification: M10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation