are you brainstorming the right way for innovation?

May 4, 2016

Conventional wisdom says brainstorming works best when people from different departments or groups come together to think of new ideas or solve problems. But research from Sarah Kaplan, a senior fellow at Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management, shows that diversity is not enough. What is also necessary is in-depth expertise of the topic at hand. Those two factors together result in truly innovative ideas and also yield the highest economic value.

Knowledge@Wharton recently spoke with Kaplan, who is a professor of strategic management at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and a former Wharton professor, to discuss her research. An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Focus of the Research

I have been conducting research … on innovation, specifically as looked at through the patenting of technological innovations. I published a paper recently with a former doctoral student at the Rotman School, Keyvan Vakili — who’s now at the London Business School — called “The Double-Edged Sword of Recombination in Breakthrough Innovation.”

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