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Radically concrete or incrementally abstract? The contingent role of abstract and concrete framing in pitching novel ideas

Falchetti, D., Cattani, G. & Ferriani, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-9669-3486 (2024). Radically concrete or incrementally abstract? The contingent role of abstract and concrete framing in pitching novel ideas. Innovation, doi: 10.1080/14479338.2024.2363254


Entrepreneurs pitching new ideas are hard-pressed to frame their message in the most compelling way to win the attention and support of relevant audiences. But could a simple shift in framing sanction the success or failure of their communication efforts? Drawing on recent scholarship on the recognition of novel ideas and language, we compare the effectiveness of two framing approaches to idea pitching: abstract vs. concrete framing. We suggest that the best framing strategy to rally audience support depends on the novelty of the idea. Two controlled experiments where we investigate the combined impact of an idea’s degree of novelty and the abstractness level (why vs. how) of the framing strategy used to pitch it on the idea’s evaluation by members of a lay audience (e.g., crowdfunders, students, or other non-professional evaluators) confirm our intuition. The findings indicate that radical ideas are significantly more likely to elicit favorable evaluation from lay audience members when those ideas are framed in concrete “How” terms; whereas incremental ideas fare better when framed in abstract “Why” terms. By focusing on the framing strategies that entrepreneurs can use to communicate their new ideas, our study contributes to the growing research on the role of language in shaping the recognition of novelty. More generally, it provides entrepreneurs with actionable insights that they can leverage to attract attention and support from a general (lay) audience.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.
Publisher Keywords: Framing, idea, abstract, concrete, pitch, entrepreneurship
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
P Language and Literature
Departments: Bayes Business School
Bayes Business School > Management
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