Benevolent Rejections: How Rejections Can Foster Relationships and Innovations



Rejections are common in everyday life, yet their consequences for individual behavior remain little studied. We examine a situation in which organizations invite people outside their boundaries to provide suggestions for formal action. Organizations that receive such suggestions can choose to act upon them, ignore them, or even reject them. While rejections carry a cost (i.e., potentially alienating the suggestion-maker), they are also an important source for motivation and learning. We unite these opposing views and argue that rejections can under certain conditions increase effort; moreover, we document how people learn by changing their behavior when trying again.