Distributed Idea Screening in Stage–gate Development Processes

Balder Onarheim, Bo T. Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This paper investigates the gate screening of ideas in engineering design, by examination of the validity of employee voting schemes and biases associated with such voting. After conducting an employee-driven innovation project at a major producer of disposable medical equipment, 99 ideas had to be screened for further development. Inspired by the concept of ‘wisdom of the crowd’, all ideas were individually rated by a broad selection of employees, and the ratings were used to investigate two biases in employee voting: visual complexity and endowment effect/ownership of ideas. The visual complexity bias was found to be a predictor for selection, but experienced employees were less affected by the bias. The ownership bias was potent in that every employee proved to be more likely to select his or her own ideas over other ideas, but this effect disappeared when aggregating across the crowd of employees. Furthermore, this study compared the employee selection with the preference of a small team of executives, showing that the employee voting significantly correlates with the preferences of the executives: overall, in the top 12 selected ideas and in the choice of idea categories. This match increases when including only the ratings of the most experienced employees.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Engineering Design
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)660-673
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Cite this