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The Long Tail of Idea Generation

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International Journal of Innovation Science

ISSN: 1757-2223

Article publication date: 3 November 2010



Engaging hundreds or thousands of employees in challenges that address specific business needs is a well established innovation model. Large-scale idea generation is a key element of such challenges, and we have observed that it has remarkably consistent statistical properties across every challenge, company, and industry. It bears a strong analogy to the “long tail” that Chris Anderson recognized in electronic retail of books and music and shares its enabling economics. We propose that idea generation is driven by universal positive feedback properties which account for its observed power law form, scale independence, and dynamics of growth. Simulation reproduces these properties and suggests further details and consequences. These robust observations have significant impact on strategies in collaborative innovation.


Spencer, R. and Woods, T. (2010), "The Long Tail of Idea Generation", International Journal of Innovation Science, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 53-63.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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