Collective Attention and Collective Intelligence: The Role of Hierarchy and Team Gender Composition

Woolley, A.W., Chow, R., Mayo, A., Riedl, C., & Chang, J.W. (2022). Collective attention and collective intelligence: The role of hierarchy and team gender composition. Organization Science, in press.

24 Pages Posted: 5 May 2022

See all articles by Anita Williams Woolley

Anita Williams Woolley

Carnegie Mellon University

Rosalind Chow

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business

Anna Mayo

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School

Christoph Riedl

Northeastern University - D’Amore-McKim School of Business

Jin Wook Chang

Korea University Business School (KUBS)

Date Written: April 29, 2022

Abstract

Collective intelligence (CI) captures a team’s ability to work together across a wide range of tasks and can vary significantly between teams. Extant work demonstrates that the level of collective attention a team develops has an important influence on their level of CI. An important question, then, is what enhances collective attention? Prior work demonstrates an association with team composition; here we additionally examine the influence of team hierarchy and its interaction with team gender composition. To do so, we conducted an experiment with 584 individuals working in 146 teams in which we randomly assigned each team to work in a stable, unstable, or unspecified hierarchical team structure and varied team gender composition. We examined how team structure led to different behavioral manifestations of collective attention as evidenced in team speaking patterns. We find that a stable hierarchical structure increases more cooperative, synchronous speaking patterns, but that unstable hierarchical structure and a lack of specified hierarchical structure both increase competitive, interruptive speaking patterns. Moreover, the effect of cooperative vs. competitive speaking patterns on collective intelligence is moderated by the teams’ gender composition; majority female teams exhibit higher CI when their speaking patterns are more cooperative and synchronous, whereas all male teams exhibit higher CI when their speaking involves more competitive interruptions. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our findings for enhancing collective intelligence in organizational teams.

Suggested Citation

Woolley, Anita Williams and Chow, Rosalind and Mayo, Anna and Riedl, Christoph and Chang, Jin Wook, Collective Attention and Collective Intelligence: The Role of Hierarchy and Team Gender Composition (April 29, 2022). Woolley, A.W., Chow, R., Mayo, A., Riedl, C., & Chang, J.W. (2022). Collective attention and collective intelligence: The role of hierarchy and team gender composition. Organization Science, in press., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4096991

Anita Williams Woolley (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Rosalind Chow

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business ( email )

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Anna Mayo

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School ( email )

100 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

Christoph Riedl

Northeastern University - D’Amore-McKim School of Business ( email )

360 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.christophriedl.net

Jin Wook Chang

Korea University Business School (KUBS) ( email )

Anam-Dong, Seongbuk-Gu
Seoul 136-701, 136701
Korea

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