Research Briefs, a regular series, looks at intriguing research coming out of academia. This week: More experienced people speak up less frequently but have better ideas.
Paper: A Field Experiment in Motivating Employee Ideas
Authors: Michael Gibbs, University of Chicago, Susanne Neckermann,
Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Christoph Siemroth, University of Mannheim
Published: May 2014
There’s hope for all you baby boomers fretting that eager millennials will edge you out of a job: Experience matters when it comes to the quality of ideas.
In this paper, researchers had rare access to a database that tracked 5,000 ideas submitted by employees of an unidentified Asian information technology company. They found that newer workers may have a fresh perspective on the business, but it’s the longtime employees who have the primo ideas. Younger professionals come up with slightly more suggestions than veterans, but theirs are not as good as those from the people in the organization for the longest time. To measure how good a given idea was, researchers looked at whether the idea was implemented within the company, a sign that management deemed it good enough to try, and whether it was shared with clients, on the rationale that managers would be unlikely to present inferior ideas to external stakeholders.