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  • Collaboration has its limits

    BostInno - 10/31/2015

    Shore and his co-authors, Ethan Bernstein, an assistant professor of leadership and organizational behavior at Harvard Business School, and David Lazer, a professor of political science and computer and information science at Northeastern University, write in their study that “clustering promotes exploration through information space but inhibits exploration through solution space.”

    For their experiment, the researchers adapted a US Department of Defense (DOD) tool for conducting experiments on collaboration and information gathering and customized a 25-minute whodunit game: figuring out the who, what, when, and where of a pending terrorist attack. Some 400 undergraduate participants were divided into 16-person groups. Each group was organized into one of four networks, which ranged from highly clustered to minimally clustered. Those in the highly clustered communications networks were five percent more efficient in searching for unique facts or clues. But those who were not densely clustered came up with 17.5 percent more unique theories or solutions. The study, “Facts and Figuring: An Experimental Investigation of Network Structure and Performance in Information and Solution Spaces,” was funded by the DOD and theUS Army Research Laboratory and published in Organization Science in September 2015.

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