Seminar  |  19.10.2016 | 12:00  –  13:30

Brown Bag-Seminar: Creativity Under Fire: The Effects of Competition on Creative Production

Daniel Gross (Harvard Business School)


Though fundamental to innovation and essential to many industries and occupations, the creative act has received limited attention as an economic behavior and has historically proven difficult to study. This paper studies the incentive effects of competition on individuals' creative production. Using a sample of commercial logo design competitions, and a novel, content-based measure of originality, I find that intensifying competition induces agents to explore novel, untested ideas over tweaking their earlier work, but heavy competition drives them to stop investing altogether. The results yield lessons for the management of creative workers and for the implementation of competitive procurement mechanisms for innovation.