Abstract

Nearly 60 years ago, Thomas Kuhn revolutionized how we think of scientific discovery and innovation when he identified that scientific change can occur in incremental developments that improve upon existing solutions, or it can occur as drastic change in the form of a paradigm shift. In engineering design, both types of scientific change are critical when exploring the solution space. However, most methods of examining design outputs look at whether an idea is creative or not and not the type of creativity that is deployed or if we can predict what types of individuals or teams is more likely to develop a paradigm-shifting idea. Without knowing how to identify who will generate ideas that fit a certain paradigm, we do not know how to build teams that can develop ideas that better explore the solution space. This study provides the first attempt at answering this question through an empirical study with 60 engineering design student teams over the course of a 4- and 8-week design project. Specifically, we sought to identify the role of cognitive style using KAI score, derived from Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation (A-I) theory, on the paradigm-relatedness of ideas generated by individuals and teams. We also sought to investigate the role of crowdsourcing for measuring the paradigm-relatedness of design solutions. The results showed that KAI was positively related to a greater likelihood of an individual’s idea being categorized as paradigm-breaking. In addition, the team KAI diversity was also linked to a greater likelihood of teams’ ideas being categorized as paradigm-challenging. Finally, the results support the use of crowdsourcing for measuring the paradigm-relatedness of design solutions.

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