Author's School

Olin Business School

Author's Department/Program

Business Administration


English (en)

Date of Award

January 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Stuart Bunderson


Identifying and investing in innovative initiatives is a fundamental challenge for individuals in the contemporary organization. And yet, while we know a good deal about the psychology of innovation evaluation, we know decidedly less about how such processes are influenced by the formal and informal structures within which individuals in this setting operate. To address these limitations, I first draw from work on the psychology of idea evaluation to identify and develop a heuristic of evaluation relevant to the evaluation of innovation--that of an initiative's promise. I then suggest that such promise evaluations will be simultaneously influenced by the formal and informal structures of the contemporary organization, the former consisting of this organization's division along project and subunit lines, and the latter by one's patterns of communication across a social network. Finally, I jointly model these structural antecedents of promise evaluations, outline a method of hypothesis testing, and then assess the model in the research and development arm of a Fortune 500 agribusiness organization. Results generally support the outlined theory.


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