Paul W. Fombelle, Northeastern University
Sterling A. Bone, Utah State University
Katherine N. Lemon, Boston College

Although companies receive a staggering amount of ideas from consumers, only a small fraction of the ideas are actually usable, with as many as 98% being rejected. This re- search examines the influence of firms’ responses to consumer- generated ideas on consumers’ self-perceptions of face and their tendency to return in the future with more ideas. Specifically, we examine the impact of firm response to consumers’ rejected ideas. The results show that consumers respond to a rejected idea with an increased of face threat, leading to a decrease in future idea sharing. However, the presence of face enhancement reduces these negative effects. Recognizing managers’ dilemma, we identify three buffering responses that may drive perceptions of face enhancement and thus buffer the negative re- percussions of face threat from rejecting consumer ideas: (1) considering consumers’ past experiences (success/failure) with submitting ideas, (2) creating a unique group identity, and (3) offering an excuse. We also show the impact of a public versus private firm acknowledgment of consumer ideas on both consumers’ perceptions of face and future idea sharing behaviors.


The paper is published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science