Using Stretch Goals for Idea Generation Among Employees: One Size Does Not Fit All!

Saeedeh Ahmadi, Justin Jansen, JP Eggers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
95 Downloads (Pure)


This study explores heterogeneity in the efficacy of stretch goals for engaging employees in innovation, as stretch goals may both boost norm-breaking creativity and hamper fruitful ideation by overwhelming employees. Through a multilevel perspective, we demonstrate that stretch goals motivate more capable employees (successful, experienced, senior) to submit useful innovative ideas by combining the motivation of stretch goals with these employees' ability to discern fruitful from futile ideas. Other employees, meanwhile, may "spin their wheels"and submit lower-quality ideas based on their inability to apply useful knowledge. Empirically, we leverage idea generation data from a Fortune 500 firm. We contribute to stretch goals research by demonstrating both the intended and the unintended consequences that shape employee behavior and to the innovation literature by articulating when stretch goals can and cannot motivate valuable innovation fromemployees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-687
Number of pages17
JournalOrganization Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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