Super Mario Meets AI: Experimental Effects of Automation and Skills on Team Performance and Coordination

65 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2021 Last revised: 27 Jul 2022

See all articles by Fabrizio Dell'Acqua

Fabrizio Dell'Acqua

Harvard Business School; Columbia University - Columbia Business School

Bruce Kogut

Columbia University - Sociology/Columbia Business School

Patryk Perkowski

Columbia University - Columbia Business School

Date Written: December 10, 2020

Abstract

This article studies the effects of the adoption of artificial intelligence on teams and their performance and coordination in a laboratory experiment. We posit that automation decreases organizational performance, interferes with team member coordination, and leads to behavioral changes in human co-workers. We randomize the introduction of automated players and new hires into "laboratory firms" (Weber and Camerer, 2003) who must coordinate in teams playing a game on the Nintendo Switch console. We demonstrate experimentally that even in a task where AI outperforms humans, the replacement of a human player by an automated videogame agent decreases team performance. We also find that automation leads to an increase in coordination failures, and reduces team trust and individual effort provision. Finally, we explore the distributional consequences of introducing AI within teams and show that the performance effects are especially large in the short-term and in low- and medium-skilled teams whose skills we pre-tested. Overall, our team-based design supports a perspective that collaborative human-machine interaction is key to the positive transformation that AI may bring to teams, organizations, and work more broadly.

Keywords: Artificial intelligence, teams, videogame experiments, human-machine interaction, productivity, routines, skills, tacit

JEL Classification: J24, C92, O33, J01

Suggested Citation

Dell'Acqua, Fabrizio and Kogut, Bruce and Perkowski, Patryk, Super Mario Meets AI: Experimental Effects of Automation and Skills on Team Performance and Coordination (December 10, 2020). Columbia Business School Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3746564 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3746564

Fabrizio Dell'Acqua (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States

Columbia University - Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Bruce Kogut

Columbia University - Sociology/Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY MA 10027
United States

Patryk Perkowski

Columbia University - Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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