Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 15 Number 4 1999 pp. 143-160

The Creative Process: The Effects of Group Memory on Individual Idea Generation

Satzinger, John W, Garfield, Monica J, and Nagasundaram, Murli

ABSTRACT: To compete in today's rapidly paced business environment, many companies are increasingly relying on their employees to generate creative solutions to business problems. Specifically, through the use of idea-generation techniques, business owners hope to promote creative idea generation by their employees. Several leading corporations (and, concomitantly, researchers) have become interested in the use of group support systems (GSS) to enhance idea generation. A key component of the GSS-based idea-generation process is group memory, a repository of ideas created by users of GSS. Group memory provides stimuli, in the form of ideas, to the individuals using the software. This study seeks to better understand the manner in which the contents of the group memory influence the type of ideas generated by individuals in the group. The authors report the results of a laboratory experiment that investigated whether the stimuli contained within a GSS group memory (i.e., ideas) systematically influenced the extent of paradigm shift represented in the ideas generated by individuals. A GSS simulator designed for this study was used to allow for the manipulation of the stimuli in the group memory. The results suggest that individuals tend to generate ideas that match the paradigm-relatedness of ideas provided to them as stimulation.

Key words and phrases: brainstorming, creativity, group memory, group support systems, idea generation