Blinded by the person? Experimental evidence from idea evaluation
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2023
Research Summary: Seeking causal evidence on biases in idea evaluation, we conducted a field experiment in a large multinational company with two conditions: (a) blind evaluation, in which managers received no proposer information, and (b) non-blind evaluation, in which they received the proposer's name, unit, and location. To our surprise—and in contrast to the preregistered hypotheses—we found no biases against women and proposers from different units and locations, which blinding could ameliorate. Addressing challenges that remained intractable in the field experiment, we conducted an online experiment, which replicated the null findings. A final vignette study showed that people overestimated the magnitude of the biases. The studies suggest that idea evaluation can be less prone to biases than previously assumed and that evaluators separate ideas from proposers. Managerial Summary: We wanted to find out if there were biases in the way managers evaluate ideas from their employees. We did a field experiment in a large multinational technology company where we tested two different ways of evaluating ideas: one where managers did not know anything about the person who came up with the idea and one where they did know the person's name, which unit they worked for, and where they were located. The results were surprising. We did not find any bias against women and employees that did not work in the same location and unit as the evaluator. Managers are advised that hiding the identity of idea proposers (from idea evaluators) may not be a silver bullet to improving idea evaluation.