Journal Article

Evaluating novelty: The role of panels in the selection of R&D projects

Academy of Management Journal 60 (2): 433–460
2016 TIE / VHB 2016 Jürgen Hauschildt Award best research publication in innovation management, 2016 EBS Best-Paper-Award “Innovation Management” 2016
Paola Criscuolo, Linus Dahlander, Thorsten Grohsjean, Ammon J. Salter (2017)
Subject(s): Technology, R&D management
Keyword(s): innovation search, novelty, professional services firms, R&D project selection, selection panels

Building on a unique, multi-source, and multi-method study of R&D projects in a leading professional service firm, we develop the argument that organizations are more likely to fund projects with intermediate levels of novelty. That is, some project novelty increases the share of requested funds received, but too much novelty is difficult to appreciate and is selected against. While prior research has considered the characteristics of the individuals generating project ideas, we shift the focus to panel selectors and explore how they shape the evaluation of novelty. We theorize that a high panel workload reduces panel preference for novelty in selection, whereas a diversity of panel expertise and a shared location between panel and applicant increase preference for novelty. We explore the implications of these findings for theories of innovation search, organizational selection, and managerial practice.

With permission of the Academy of Management

Volume 60
Issue 2
Pages 433–460