PILOT - Organizing Time for Innovation

Initiated:  Spring 2020

Expected completion:  Fall 2021

Kick off webinar

Quick pitch

To learn more, contact Lee Green.

Value Proposition

If you were offered a choice between two lotteries, one where you could win money and one where you could win time, which one would you pick?

Creativity is critical to organizations’ competitive advantage, but to stimulate creativity, organizations have to provide employees with time to be creative. Creativity time is defined as time “during which employees choose what projects to work on and how to complete such projects” (Burkus and Oster, 2002, p. 49). Time is a precious resource to both people and organizations. Therefore, it critical for companies to understand when and how they should grant specific time to employees to be creative.

Some companies, such as Twitter, provide employees with an entire week per year to engage in creative work. Other organizations, like Google and 3M, allocate a percentage of employees’ time to work on creative projects, but the time during which they do so is not predetermined. The benefits of innovation programs are not in question in the literature, but how the time should be allotted to maximize creative performance is unclear. Therefore, our research question is: How to organize creativity time to maximize creative output?

We are interested in the following time-related variables:

  • Scheduling autonomy (the degree to which an employee has the freedom to schedule their creativity time);
  • Incubation (taking a break from trying to find creative solutions to problems);
  • Flow (the positive experience of complete absorption in an activity that is both spontaneous and effortless that people feel when they are “lost in their work”);
  • Time pressure.


To answer our research question, we will follow an experimental approach combined with additional data collection using surveys.

In the experimental phase, employees will be asked to perform both a creative task and a routine task. Each task will take 10 minutes. We are open to working with IRI members on determining what the creative and routine tasks should consist of. Employees will also need to fill out short pre- and post-surveys. We estimate the time commitment at 45 minutes per participant.


Winter 2020 Literature review done; experimental setup further refined
Spring 2020 Interviews with interested IRI members to gather ideas and input
Summer 2020 Finalize experimental setup; contact IRI members for participation
Late 2020 - Winter 2021 Data collection
Spring 2021 Data analysis
IRI Annual Conference 2021 Report out
Fall 2021 RTM article submission

Anticipated Deliverables

We will aim to publish a paper in RTM. We plan to present our findings at the IRI conference, and if companies are interested, also at member companies (depending on travel funding). Finally, it would also be very interesting to follow up with case studies in member companies where there can be more regard for organizational-level variables such as size, culture, and industry, which might lead to further insights and publications in RTM.

Project Leads

Heidi Bertels - Assistant Professor of Management, Chazanoff School of Business, College of Staten Island/CUNY
Heidi M.J. Bertels is an Assistant Professor of Management at City University of New York (CUNY) – Chazanoff School of Business at the College of Staten Island. She holds a PhD in Technology Management from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ and a BS and MA in Integral Product Development from the University of Antwerp, Belgium. Her research interests are in innovation management, entrepreneurship, creativity, and pedagogy. Dr. Bertels has published in Journal of Product Innovation Management, Management and Organization Review, Research-Technology Management, Journal of Management Education, International Journal of Innovation Management, Case Research Journal, and The CASE Journal. She has been recognized for her scholarship by twice being a finalist for the Best Student Paper of the TIM division at the Academy of Management, twice receiving the W. J. Howe School of Technology Management Outstanding Ph.D. Academic Achievement Award, and being nominated for the 2019 Fritz Roethlisberger Memorial Award. She was awarded the University Of Pittsburgh College Of Business Administration Best Teaching in the General Management Major Award. Her teaching cases are used widely, one being a top fifteen best-selling cases for the Case Research Journal and designated as popular on Harvard Business Publishing Education website. She has also received outstanding reviewer awards for her service as reviewer. Dr. Bertels presents her research at national and international conferences.
Alexander Brem - Chaired Professor of Management, Daimler Chair of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Stuttgart, Germany
Alexander Brem is Endowed Chaired Professor and Institute Director at the University of Stuttgart, Germany. He is a CCSR International Research Associate at DeMontfort University (UK) and a visiting professor at the EADA Business School in Barcelona (Spain) and HHL Graduate School of Management (Germany). Recently in May 2017, Alexander Brem has been appointed Honorary Professor at the University of Southern Denmark and IEEE Senior Member. His latest achievement was the 2019 Best Paper Award „Innovation Management“ from EBS University, Germany.
His research focus is on technological innovation and entrepreneurship. This includes research fields like Idea Management, Constraint-based Innovation, User Innovation as well as Technology Entrepreneurship. Professor Brem serves as Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management (IJITM), as well as Associate Editor for Technological Forecasting and Social Change (TFSC), IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management (IEEE TEM) and the Journal of Business Research (JBR). Moreover, he is editorial board member at several journals like Academy of Management Perspectives or Business Horizons.
Dan Zhang - Associate Professor of Marketing, College of Staten Island/CUNY
Dr. Dan Zhang is Associate Professor of Marketing at the City University of New York (CUNY) - College of Staten Island. She earned her Ph.D. in Business Administration from Temple University, U.S. Her current research interests include product development and innovation, transnational product design, psychology of aesthetics and expertise, consumer judgment and decision making, and branding. Dr. Zhang has published in Creativity and Innovation Management, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Journal of International Consumer Marketing, Journal of Global Fashion Marketing, and Advances in International Marketing. She is the winner of the Christer Karlsson Best Paper Runner-Up at the 21st International Product Development Management Conference and received the 2017 President’s Dolphin Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty at CUNY- College of Staten Island. She has successfully coached student teams to win the 2nd Prize of American Marketing Association (AMA) Mary Kay Case Competition at the 40th AMA International Collegiate Conference and the 3rd Prize of AMA eBay Case Competition at the 39th AMA International Collegiate Conference. She has presented papers in international and national conferences, such as Academy of Management Meeting, AMA Summer Marketing Educators Conference, Association for Consumer Research Annual Conference, Innovation and Product Development Management Conference, International Conference on Design Principles & Practices, and Product Development Management Association Research Forum.