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Blinded by the person? Unveiling the truth about biases in idea evaluation

In the world of innovation, the evaluation of ideas is often influenced by the identity of the proposer. A recent study, however, challenges this notion, revealing that biases in idea evaluation may not be as prevalent as previously believed. This article explores the findings of this groundbreaking research, which could potentially reshape our understanding of idea evaluation in the corporate world.

Unmasking the truth: biases in idea evaluation

The experiment

The study sought to uncover biases in idea evaluation within a large multinational company. The researchers set up two conditions for the experiment: a blind evaluation, where managers had no information about the proposer, and a non-blind evaluation, where managers knew the proposer's name, unit, and location. Contrary to their initial hypotheses, the researchers found no significant biases against women or proposers from different units and locations.

Surprising findings

The results of the study were unexpected. The researchers found no evidence of bias against women or proposers from different units and locations, even in the non-blind evaluation condition. This suggests that idea evaluation may be less prone to biases than previously assumed, and that evaluators are capable of separating ideas from their proposers.

Further investigations

To address the limitations of the field experiment, the researchers conducted an online experiment, which replicated the null findings. A final vignette study showed that people tend to overestimate the magnitude of biases in idea evaluation.

The implications

The findings of this study challenge the prevailing belief that biases significantly influence idea evaluation in the corporate world. This could have profound implications for how companies approach idea evaluation, suggesting that hiding the identity of idea proposers may not be necessary to ensure fair evaluation.

Meet the researchers

This groundbreaking research was conducted by a team of researchers from various institutions across Europe:

  • Linus Dahlander, ESMT Berlin
  • Arne Thomas, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Business School
  • Martin W. Wallin, Department of Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology; Department of Management, Technology, and Economics, ETH Zurich
  • Rebecka C. Ångström, Stockholm School of Economics, House of Innovation
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