UCL School of Management is delighted to welcome Pier Mannucci, LBS, to host a research seminar discussing ‘Network activation and the journey of a creative idea’
While research has long explored whether weak or strong ties are more conducive to creativity, different conclusions have been reached. Recently, scholars have suggested that weak ties are more conducive to creativity in idea generation, and strong ties are more beneficial in idea elaboration. As individuals usually possess both types of ties, identifying how individuals choose which ties to activate in each phase and what helps or hinders their ability to activate the “optimal” type of ties is paramount in order to understand creative success through the idea journey. In this paper, we propose that tie activation is shaped by the degree to which individuals frame creativity, and each phase in particular, as a risky endeavor, and by the set of ties they can choose from. Across three experimental studies, we first show empirical support for the theorized differences across phases, showing that individuals benefit more from weak ties during idea generation. Moreover, we find that individuals focus on stronger portions of their networks and are less likely to activate weak ties across phases, particularly in idea elaboration. Finally, we find that having a large network reduces the likelihood of activating weak ties and of switching ties across phases, but that the latter is true only when creativity is framed as a risky endeavor.