Yu & Nickerson Presenting Paper

November 2, 2011

Generating creative ideas through crowds:
An experimental study of combination

Lixiu (Lisa) Yu, Jeffrey Nickerson


  • 2011 International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS 2011)
  • Shanghai, CHINA
  • Dec 4-7, 2011


The crowd is emerging as a new source of innovation, and here a new way of organizing the crowd to produce new ideas is discussed: an idea generation system using combination in which participants synthesize new designs from the efforts of their peers. A crowd generates designs; then another crowd combines the designs of the previous crowd. In an experiment with 540 participants, the combined designs are compared to the initial designs, and o a control condition in which fresh idea generation rather than combination is used. The results show that designs become more creative in later generations of the combination system, and the combination produces more creative ideas than the fresh idea generation. The model of crowdsourced idea generation discussed here may be used to instantiate systems that can be applied to a wide range of design problems. The work has pragmatic implications, and also theoretical implications: new forms of coordination are now possible, and using the crowd, it is possible to build and test existing and emerging theories of coordination and design.



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