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Staying alive: Towards a diverging consensus model of overcoming a bias against novelty in groups

Harvey, S; Mueller, J; (2021) Staying alive: Towards a diverging consensus model of overcoming a bias against novelty in groups. Organization Science , 32 (2) pp. 257-525. 10.1287/orsc.2020.1384. Green open access

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Abstract

Organizations that desire creativity often use groups like task forces, decision panels, and selection committees with the primary purpose of evaluating novel ideas. Those groups need to keep at least some novel ideas alive while also assessing the usefulness of ideas. Research suggests, however, that such groups often prefer proven ideas whose usefulness can be easily predicted and reject novel ideas early in the course of discussion. How those groups deal with the tension between novelty and the predictability of idea usefulness in the process of overcoming a bias against novelty is therefore an important question for understanding organizational creativity and innovation. We explore that question with a qualitative study of the discussions of four healthcare policy groups who confronted the tension early in the process of evaluating ideas. Unlike prior work that emphasizes how groups integrate tensions to build consensus around ideas, our study showed that overcoming a bias against novelty involved maintaining tension by fracturing a group’s shared understanding of usefulness and retaining those divergent perspectives alongside moments of consensus. We describe this as a diverging consensus model of overcoming a bias against novelty. Our work contributes to the literature examining how groups can productively engage with tensions and provides a dynamic process for how groups might overcome the bias against novelty and therefore keep some novel ideas alive to fuel organizational creativity and innovation.

Type: Article
Title: Staying alive: Towards a diverging consensus model of overcoming a bias against novelty in groups
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1287/orsc.2020.1384
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.2020.1384
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > UCL School of Management
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10105247
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