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Stimulating Ideas Through Creative Software

By Kenneth R. MacCrimmon and Christian Wagner


A central task of management is decision making and a crucial aspect of decision making is having good alternatives from which to choose. This paper investigates whether computer-based procedures for idea generation can help individuals to develop solution alternatives more creatively. Our conceptual framework considers creative processes, environments, outputs, and individuals. In particular, generating alternatives is viewed as a process of "making connections" ---internal connections among problem elements and external connections between a problem and its environment. We have developed a computer program (GENI) which incorporates a variety of techniques to assist in making these different types of connections. The program is described and an experimental test with several managerial problems is presented. The results show that use of the program leads to the development of significantly more creative alternatives than does a control treatment. There is an amplification effect in that the performance of the more creative individuals is improved the most. Thus the findings suggest that computerized idea generation leads to more creative alternatives resulting in potentially better managerial decisions.idea generation, creative problem solving, creativity, decision making, computer software

DOI identifier: 10.1287/mnsc.40.11.1514
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