Why we Support some Original Ideas but Reject Others: An Application of Signaling Theory

Samuel T. Hunter, Lily D. Blocker, Melissa B. Gutworth, Julian Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although organizations say new ideas are desirable, investing in original products rather than the “tried and true” can be unsettling for decision-makers. This discomfort may be due, in part, to uncertainty surrounding whether a new idea will prove successful. As such, the originality of a creative idea can be paradoxically viewed both as an asset, driving up appeal, as well as a detrimental risk. To help unpack these relationships, we propose that how an original idea is proposed (i.e., pitched) plays a central role in the support it receives. Guided by signaling theory we examined how pitch quality relates to funding for ideas with varying degrees of originality. In a field sample of 245 Kickstarter crowdfunding campaigns, pitch quality for ideas high in originality predicted investment in such ideas. In a follow-up experimental study, we created high- and low-quality pitches for two products, also varying product originality and product quality. Results highlight the importance of high-quality pitches for highly original ideas that are associated with reductions in uncertainty. Supplemental analyses suggest that high-quality pitches improve enthusiasm for a product as well, highlighting a potential second path of support influence.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Creative Behavior
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • bias against creativity
  • pitch
  • pitch originality
  • pitch quality
  • product
  • signaling

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