Novel projects might receive little support in an organisation because senior managers responsible for allocating funding may be unable to fully appreciate their potential. Building on a unique, multi-source and multi-method study of R&D projects in a leading professional service firm, we explore the impact that a panel of selectors has on the selection of novel projects.
We focus on three panels characteristics:
- The number of other projects evaluated during the selection process,
- The level of diversity of members of the panel
- Whether any of the selectors work in the same location as the R&D applicant
We theorise that high panel workload reduces panel preference for novelty in selection, whereas a diversity of panel expertise, and shared location between the panel and the applicant increases preference for novelty. While existing studies have considered the characteristics of the individuals generating project ideas, in this research we shift the focus to panel selectors and explore how they shape the evaluation of novelty.
In a second study, we consider the implications of firm-internal selection processes for the validity of extant work that has used patent data to examine the factors contributing to inventor creativity. As firm-internal selection processes tend to screen out non-novel creative efforts but are also biased against overly novel inventions or those inventions that are not sufficiently in line with the firm’s businesses, patent data captures a non-representative subset of an inventor’s creative efforts. Using a unique dataset of all inventions produced by the employees of a large, multinational, technology company over two decades, we first examine the key drivers behind the firm-internal selection process, before attempting to replicate the results of important prior work on the drivers inventor creativity while taking into account non-random selection of inventions into patents.
- Criscuolo, P ., Dahlander, L., Grohsjean, T. and Salter, A., Evaluating novelty: the role of panels in the selection of R&D projects. Academy of Management Journal (forthcoming)