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Publication Detail
Staying alive: Towards a diverging consensus model of overcoming a bias against novelty in groups
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
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  • Authors:
    Harvey S, Mueller J
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  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Organization Science
  • Volume:
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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.
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