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Negative Aspects of Collaboration?

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Throughout this chapter we’ve discussed ways that groups can perform well or perform poorly, which leaves an overriding question: are the negative aspects of collaboration so severe that we should avoid making decisions and working in groups?

Groups and teams need more time to process multiple piece of information and coordinate what they know. Daniel Kaheman and colleagues also warn that when committees and groups make recommendations, they’ve often “fallen in love” with a particular idea and are no longer thinking ration ally. These problems of heuristics and biases (introduced earlier in the book) can be magnified when a group of people are making a decision collectively. Look no further than the U.S. Congress in recent years to see instances in which a group decision-making process might lead to a worse outcome than if one consistent course of action were pursued.

So what can managers do to minimize these biases? The problems of coordination and collaboration suggest that we should invoke group decision making only when it appears that pooling information will lead to better decisions than individual decision making. Experts advise that decision makers receiving advice from teams should always ask whether the team’s recommendations contain any selfinterested biases. It’s also important to see whether the team has developed an emotional attachment to one course of action or has succumbed to groupthink. Finally, run down a checklist of the heuristics and biases we’ve described earlier in the book to see whether the group might be prone to making these decision errors.

Questions

1. Think about a time when you’ve been in a group that had to make a collective decision that didn’t turn out well. Can you identify any specific decision-making errors the team made?

2. In the situation you encountered, can you think of any strategies that would have helped make the group decision-making process more efficient and accurate?

3. Can you think of a type of decision that is probably better made by an individual than a group? What types of decisions need to be made by groups?

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