Productivity loss in idea-generating groups: Tracking down the blocking effect

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 01/1991; 61:392--403. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.61.3.392

ABSTRACT Four experiments were conducted to identify the mechanisms that mediate the impact of production blocking on the productivity of idea-generating groups and to test procedural arrangements that could lessen its negative impact. Experiment 1 manipulated the length of group and individual sessions. Although Experiment 1 failed to find a closing of the productivity gap over time in equal man-hour comparisons, real 4-person groups produced more than nominal groups when given 4 times as much time. Because lengthening the time of session increases thinking as well as speaking time, speaking time was manipulated in Experiment 2. The finding that individuals who brainstormed for 20 min but were allowed to talk either for all or for only ƈ of the time did not differ in productivity eliminates differences in speaking time as an explanation of the productivity loss in idea-generating groups. In Experiments 3 and 4, procedural strategies to lessen the impact of blocking were examined.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Integrating and refining social interdependence theory and structural adaptation theory, we examined the effects of intergroup competition on the creativity of 70 four-person groups engaged in two idea generation tasks. We manipulated both group membership change (change, no change) and intergroup competition level (low, inter-mediate, high). Competition had the expected U-shaped relation with creativity in open (membership change) groups but failed to produce the hypothesized inverted U-shaped pattern in closed (no membership change) groups. In the latter, effects were positive for low to intermediate competition and flat for intermediate to high levels. Within-group collaboration mediated these effects. Recent economic trends demanding the delivery of new products and services at an ever-increasing speed and at higher levels of quality have encour-aged organizations to focus on how to more effec-tively use the creative potential of their employees. To ignite the creative spark heralded by many scholars as necessary for innovation (e.g., Van de Ven, 1986), organizations are increasingly relying not only on team-based structures (Griffin, 1997; Lawler, Mohrman, & Ledford, 1995; Leenders, Van Engelen, & Kratzer, 2007; Sundstrom, 1999), but also on internal competition between teams (Bir-kinshaw, 2001; Kanter, Kao, & Wiersema, 1997; Marino & Zábojník, 2004). The list of companies attempting to foster cre-ativity—that is, ideas about organizational prod-ucts or services that are both novel and useful (Amabile, 1996; Oldham & Cummings, 1996)—via intergroup competition is long (Peters & Waterman, 1988). For example, discussing innovation at Rub-bermaid, DuPont, and Fidelity, Kanter et al. (1997) highlighted the critical role of internal competition. Teams at these companies compete against one an-other to obtain scarce resources to advance their new ideas, and managers often simultaneously charge multiple teams with pursuing the same op-portunity to foster creativity (Birkinshaw, 2001). The motivating premise underlying the increas-ing use of intergroup rivalry to stimulate creativity is the notion that competition adds to the positive tension of challenge in a group (Amabile, 1988). In fact, one of the long-accepted hypotheses in the study of group behavior is that external threats weld groups into tight-knit social units in which members view each other as interdependent and in a positive manner (Fiedler, 1967; Sherif & Sherif, 1953; Staw, Sandelands, & Dutton, 1981). This, in turn, fosters collaboration and participation by blurring the distinction between self-and group interest (Bornstein & Erev, 1994; Kramer & Brewer, 1984). As collaboration and participation increase, groups should be able to leverage the benefits asso-ciated with bringing individuals with different ideas and viewpoints together while minimizing the process losses often plaguing group work, ulti-mately achieving elevated creativity (Hackman & Morris, 1975; Taggar, 2002; Van der Vegt & Bunder-son, 2005). Although this rather static view of groups and the way competition affects their creativity certainly has some validity, recent research has suggested that groups in organizations are best viewed as complex and dynamic entities that adapt and change over time (McGrath, Arrow, & Berdahl,
    The Academy of Management Journal 08/2010; 53(4):827–845. · 5.61 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In an information technology era, knowledge is always changing, hence the flexibility in approach and in thinking is a must. Since, the on-going conversation about semantic knowledge (many ideas with many relations) is much more important than coming up with the right answer (idea), so performing some inferences is needed for an exploration of creative diverse ideas. By combining many ideas with many relations, more novel and useful ideas are found. Representing such combination requires a special structure (called idea map). This paper introduces an efficient ideas map as a graph structure for diverse ideas and their relationships, called Oriented Directed Acyclic Graph (ODAG) algorithm. Moreover, formulating a new evaluation of the creative ideas, called Creative Ideas Quality (CIQ) algorithm by allowing agents to link diverse ideas dynamically. These diverse ideas are generated from an intelligent inference mechanism, which based on the principles of idea associations; similarity, contrast and contiguity.
    Computer Engineering & Systems, 2009. ICCES 2009. International Conference on; 01/2009
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Dredging and disposal issues often become controversial with local stakeholders because of their competing interests. These interests tend to manifest themselves in stakeholders holding onto entrenched positions, and deadlock can result without a methodology to move the stakeholder group past the status quo. However, these situations can be represented as multi-stakeholder, multi-criteria decision problems. In this paper, we describe a case study in which multi-criteria decision analysis was implemented in a multi-stakeholder setting in order to generate recommendations on dredged material placement for Long Island Sound's Dredged Material Management Plan. A working-group of representatives from various stakeholder organizations was formed and consulted to help prioritize sediment placement sites for each dredging center in the region by collaboratively building a multi-criteria decision model. The resulting model framed the problem as several alternatives, criteria, sub-criteria, and metrics relevant to stakeholder interests in the Long Island Sound region. An elicitation of values, represented as criteria weights, was then conducted. Results show that in general, stakeholders tended to agree that all criteria were at least somewhat important, and on average there was strong agreement on the order of preferences among the diverse groups of stakeholders. By developing the decision model iteratively with stakeholders as a group and soliciting their preferences, the process sought to increase stakeholder involvement at the front-end of the prioritization process and lead to increased knowledge and consensus regarding the importance of site-specific criteria.
    Science of The Total Environment 01/2014; 496:248–256. · 3.16 Impact Factor


Available from