abstract Existing theories on the influence of social networks on creativity focus on idea generation. Conversely, the new product development literature concentrates more on the selection of ideas and projects. In this paper we bridge this gap by developing a dynamic framework for the role of social networks from idea generation to selection. We apply findings from creativity and behavioural decision-making literature and present an in-depth understanding of the sociological processes in the front-end of the new product development process. Our framework builds on the importance of mutual understanding, sensemaking and consensus formation. The propositions focus on both network structure and content and highlight the need to have strong ties and prior related knowledge, to incorporate decision makers, and to move over time from a large, non-redundant and heterogeneous to a smaller and more cohesive network structure. We conclude with a discussion on empirical validation of the framework and possible extensions.