Balancing on the creative high-wire: Forecasting the success of novel ideas in organizations

Justin M Berg, University of Pennsylvania


Betting on the most promising new ideas is a key driver of creativity and innovation in organizations, but predicting the success of novel ideas can be difficult. To select the best ideas, employees and managers must excel at "creative forecasting"—i.e., predicting the success of new ideas with their intended audience. In this paper, I build and test hypotheses on the conditions for accurate creative forecasting using a field study of 339 professionals in the circus arts industry, as well as three lab experiments. In the field study, creators and managers forecasted the success of new circus acts with audiences, and I assessed the accuracy of these forecasts using data from 13,248 audience members. Results suggest that creators were poor forecasters of their own ideas, but were more accurate than managers when forecasting about their peers' ideas. This advantage over managers was undermined when creators' own ideas succeeded in the past despite being low in underlying quality. In contrast, creators with low-quality ideas that failed or high-quality ideas that succeeded maintained their advantage over managers in forecasting accuracy. Results from the three lab experiments shed additional light on the causality driving creators' advantage over managers in forecasting accuracy, as well as an intervention that may improve managers' accuracy. I discuss the implications of these results for theory and research on creativity, innovation, and performance evaluation in organizations.

Subject Area

Organizational behavior

Recommended Citation

Berg, Justin M, "Balancing on the creative high-wire: Forecasting the success of novel ideas in organizations" (2015). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3709415.