Sub-theme 56: The Emergence, Evaluation, and Legitimation of Novelty and Novel Ideas

Gino Cattani
New York University, USA
Dirk Deichmann
Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Simone Ferriani
University of Bologna, Italy, & Cass Business School, United Kingdom

Call for Papers

Research on creativity and innovation has long been catalyzed by the ‘romantic’ view according to which major creative achievements are sparked by imaginative and uniquely gifted individuals who succeed in bringing novel ideas, categories, projects or organizational forms to life. Several scholarly contributions have supported this ‘heroic’ view leading to a vibrant body of work that has enhanced our understanding of the individual dispositions, talents and agency that underlie the emergence of novelty. Yet, by focusing primarily on the ‘supply side’ of novelty generation, this research has left largely underexplored another key dimension: the need for recognition, namely the process by which the new and unaccepted is rendered valid and accepted through the attainment of material and/or symbolic resources from relevant social audiences (Cattani & Ferriani, 2008). Indeed, novelty generation and novelty recognition correspond to two distinct phases of the journey of novelty, from the moment it emerges to the moment it takes root and propagates (Cattani et al., 2017).
As Staw noted long ago, “few people or organizations really want creativity” (Staw, 1995: 476), which means that some of the most promising ideas are destined to oblivion (Deichmann & Van den Ende, 2014). This problem may by compounded by several factors. Besides simply being overwhelmed by the number of ideas they must sort through (Piezunka & Dahlander, 2015), idea evaluators may not have the capabilities and skills to recognize the value and novelty of an idea (Berg, 2016). In addition, people may have implicit biases against creative ideas (Mueller et al., 2012).
Research has also shown a tendency among managers to favor ideas from people they know or who somehow resemble them (Reitzig & Sorenson, 2013; Aadland et al., 2018). Such in-group biases often persist even after correcting for the quality of an idea. Although a growing number of scholars have started to investigate how creativity is perceived and evaluated (e.g., Mueller et al., 2012; Zhou et al., 2017) and have begun to shed light on the factors that lead to a higher accuracy of idea evaluations (Berg, 2016), our understanding of how novel ideas are actually received, perceived, and evaluated is still limited. Thus, a central question is what organizations can do to better recognize novel ideas and support their proponents in implementing those ideas.
We encourage researchers from a diverse array of academic disciplines – including organizational sociology, organizational behavior, strategy and psychology – to submit papers that address this fundamental question. We are open to different types of theoretically grounded empirical work based on qualitative and/or quantitative methods. We especially welcome work that aims to challenge received wisdom in the organizational literature, and recommend submitting papers that are already in advanced state of development. We will place special emphasis on innovative doctoral research that shows potential for contributing to the field in a non-conventional way.
We also look forward to manuscripts whose theoretical perspectives and empirical findings allow comparing practices across different empirical settings. To this end, we would like to solicit conceptual and empirical papers addressing the following or very similar questions:

  • How can idea inventors overcome the biases for novelty?

  • What processes enable innovators to reduce or neutralize the resistance of core members of the field?

  • What institutional conditions facilitate/impede the successful challenge of peripheral actors to the core of a field?

  • How can organizations create systematic ways to recognize novel ideas?

  • What are the factors that influence the accuracy of idea evaluations?

  • Why do some outsiders succeed in disrupting the established way of doing things, while others fail to do so?

  • How can idea evaluators overcome some of the challenges that are associated with the recognition and evaluation of novel ideas?



  • Aadland, E., Cattani, G., & Ferriani, S. (2018): “The Social Structure of Consecration in Cultural Fields: The Influence of Status and Social Distance in Audience-Candidate Evaluative Processes.” In: C. Jones & M. Maoret (eds.): Frontiers of Creative Industries: Exploring Structural and Categorical Dynamics. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 55. Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited, 129–157.
  • Berg, J.M. (2016): “Balancing on the Creative Highwire: Forecasting the Success of Novel Ideas in Organizations.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 61 (3), 433–468.
  • Cattani, G., & Ferriani, S. (2008): “A Core/Periphery Perspective on Individual Creative Performance: Social Networks and Cinematic Achievements in the Hollywood Film Industry.” Organization Science, 19 (6), 824–844.
  • Cattani, G., Ferriani, S., & Lanza, A. (2017): “Deconstructing the Outsider Puzzle: The Legitimation Journey of Novelty.” Organization Science, 28 (6), 965–999.
  • Coser, L.A. (1962): “Some Functions of Deviant Behavior and Normative Flexibility.” American Journal of Sociology, 68 (2), 172–181.
  • Deichmann, D., & Van den Ende, J. (2014): “Rising from Failure and Learning from Success: The Role of Past Experience in Radical Initiative Taking.” Organization Science, 25 (3), 670–690.
  • Merton, R.K. (1972): “Insiders and Outsiders: A Chapter in the Sociology of Knowledge.” American Journal of Sociology, 78 (1), 9–47.
  • Mueller, J.S., Melwani, S., & Goncalo, J.A. (2012): “The Bias Against Creativity: Why People Desire but Reject Creative Ideas.” Psychological Science, 23 (1), 13–17.
  • Piezunka, H., & Dahlander, L. (2015): “Distant Search, Narrow Attention: How Crowding Alters Organizations’ Filtering of Suggestions in Crowdsourcing.” Academy of Management Journal, 58 (3), 856–880.
  • Reitzig, M., & Sorenson, O. (2013): “Biases in the selection stage of bottom-up strategy formulation.” Strategic Management Journal, 34 (7), 782–799.
  • Sgourev, S.V. (2013): “How Paris Gave Rise to Cubism (and Picasso): Ambiguity and Fragmentation in Radical Innovation.” Organization Science, 24 (6), 1601–1617.
  • Staw, B.M. (1995): “Why No One Really Wants Creativity.” In: C.M. Ford & D.A. Gioia (eds.): Creative Action in Organizations: Ivory Tower Visions & Real World Voices. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 161–166.
  • Zhou, J., Wang, X.M., Song, L.J., & Wu, J. (2017): “Is It New? Personal and Contextual Influences on Perceptions of Novelty and Creativity.” Journal of Applied Psychology, 101 (2), 180–202.
Gino Cattani is an Associate Professor of Management & Organization at the Stern School of Business, New York University, USA. His research focuses on creativity, innovation, and market/industry formation and evolution. In his current research he has investigated the socio-structural foundations of individual creativity by looking at the role of audiences recognizing and endorsing creative work and individuals’ position along the core/periphery continuum of the field’ social network. Gino’s work was published in several top academic journals such as ‘Organization Science’, ‘Administrative Science Quarterly’, ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Research Policy’, and ‘Industrial and Corporate Change’.
Dirk Deichmann is an Associate Professor at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, The Netherlands. In his research he focuses on the determinants and consequences of creative and innovative behavior, with particular emphasis on the question of how sustained and successful idea generation, development, and implementation can be achieved. Dirk’s work has been published in several top academic journals such as ‘Strategic Management Journal’ and ‘Organization Science’ and has also been featured in popular media outlets such as ‘Harvard Business Review’.
Simone Ferriani is Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Bologna, Italy, and Honorary Professor at Cass Business School, United Kingdom. His research interests include entrepreneurship, creativity, and social networks. He has published his work in journal articles, books and book chapters. Recent publications have focused on processes of social evaluation, the origin of entrepreneurship and the social side of creativity. His research has been featured in such journals as ‘Strategic Management Journal’, ‘Organization Science’, ‘Administrative Science Quarterly’, and ‘American Sociological Review’.