The Impact of Cognitive Style Diversity on Implicit Learning in Teams

Frontiers in Psychology 10:428707 (2019)
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Organizations are increasingly looking for ways to reap the benefits of cognitive diversity for problem solving. A major unanswered question concerns the implications of cognitive diversity for longer-term outcomes such as team learning, with its broader effects on organizational learning and productivity. We study how cognitive style diversity in teams—or diversity in the way that team members encode, organize and process information—indirectly influences team learning through collective intelligence, or the general ability of a team to work together across a wide array of tasks. Synthesizing several perspectives, we predict and find that cognitive style diversity has a curvilinear—inverted U-shaped—relationship with collective intelligence. Collective intelligence is further positively related to the rate at which teams learn, and is a mechanism guiding the indirect relationship between cognitive style diversity and team learning. We test the predictions in 98 teams using ten rounds of the minimum-effort tacit coordination game. Overall, this research advances our understanding of the implications of cognitive diversity for organizations and why some teams demonstrate high levels of team learning in dynamic situations while others do not.



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