Collective intelligence in teams: Contextualizing collective intelligent behavior over time

Frontiers in Psychology 13 (2022)
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Abstract

Collective intelligence in organizational teams has been predominantly understood and explained in terms of the quality of the outcomes that the team produces. This manuscript aims to extend the understanding of CI in teams, by disentangling the core of actual collective intelligent team behavior that unfolds over time during a collaboration period. We posit that outcomes do support the presence of CI, but that collective intelligence itself resides in the interaction processes within the team. Teams behave collectively intelligent when the collective behaviors during the collaboration period are in line with the requirements of the tasks the team is assigned to and the environment. This perspective results in a challenging, but promising research agenda armed with new research questions that call for unraveling longitudinal fine-grained interactional processes over time. We conclude with exploring methodological considerations that assist researchers to align concept and methodology. In sum, this manuscript proposes a more direct, thorough, and nuanced understanding of collective intelligence in teams, by disentangling micro-level team behaviors over the course of a collaboration period. With this in mind, the field of CI will get a more fine-grained understanding of what really happens at what point in time: when teams behave more or less intelligently. Additionally, when we understand collectively intelligent processes in teams, we can organize targeted interventions to improve or maintain collective intelligence in teams.

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