Judgment and Decision Making in Teams
- LAST MODIFIED: 30 October 2019
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0183
- LAST MODIFIED: 30 October 2019
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0183
As organizations increasingly adopt team-based systems, team judgment and decision making are often preferred ways of making decisions compared to individual decision making. Teams are considered to have a greater potential to make a higher quality decision compared to individuals because teams can utilize a larger pool of information, team members can correct each other’s error, and team discussion can facilitate team processes that enhance team outcomes such as learning. Team judgment and decision making, however, are known to be subject to potential pitfalls such as polarization, common knowledge bias, and conformity pressures. This article summarizes team judgment and decision making from an information processing perspective in which information distributed among team members and interaction dynamics among team members (i.e., discussion, deliberation) determine the mechanisms whereby distributed information is expressed and elaborated and whereby it influences the ultimate team decision or judgment as discussed in The Emerging Conceptualization of Groups as Information Processors. Accordingly, studies on team judgment and decision making focus on processes whereby team members reach a team decision or judgment and the different factors that could make the team processes more effective. The current review attempts to achieve a balance in emphasis by including topics that are of interest both to academics as well as to practitioners of team judgment and decision making.
Books and Reviews
The team judgment and decision-making literature focuses on information processing dynamics that govern work groups in social and organizational settings. A highly influential book, Groupthink (Janis 1982) describes the processes wherein groups with highly competent and motivated group members can make erroneous judgments and decisions. The initial work of social psychologists has made a significant contribution in terms of understanding the mechanisms by which group members are collectively making judgments and decisions. For example, Baron and Kerr 2003, a textbook, provides an integrative overview of classical theories and findings in the field of group processes and decision -making (see also Kerr and Tindale 2004). Organizational psychologists have focused on different individual and social factors relevant to effective team decision making in organizations (Guzzo, et al. 1995). Similarly, Zsambok and Klein 2009 provides an informed discussion of factors relevant for team decision making in high-stakes and high-pressure environmental conditions. Franz 2012 on group dynamics focuses on a set of interventions and techniques for group decision-making effectiveness. In more recent years, group decision-making scholars have published highly informative books for organizational leaders. Specifically, Sunstein and Hastie 2015 discusses common biases and pitfalls related to group judgment and decision making for organizational teams. Nemeth 2018 discusses the hostility and rejection surrounding individuals with dissenting opinions in organizational teams despite their enormous information value for the collectives.
Baron, Robert S., and Norbert Kerr. Group Process, Group Decision, Group Action. 2d ed. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press, 2003.
This book is designed for an advanced undergraduate class on group dynamics, but it also provides a helpful theoretical overview for researchers on topics of team decision making, such as group polarization, minority influence, and the social combination approach.
Franz, Timothy M. Group Dynamics and Team Interventions: Understanding and Improving Team Performance. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.
This book takes a science-practitioner approach toward teamwork, targeting students as well as managers in organizations. Each chapter introduces relevant concepts, empirical findings, and practical interventions.
Guzzo, Richard A., Eduardo Salas, and associates. Team Effectiveness and Decision Making in Organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995.
This book discusses internal and external factors that influence team decision-making effectiveness, such as team staffing, teamwork stress, changing environments, and team training.
Hinsz, Verlin B., R. Scott Tindale, and David A. Vollrath. “The Emerging Conceptualization of Groups as Information Processors.” Psychological Bulletin 121.1 (1997): 43–64.
A review of research taking the information processing perspective for the relevant accumulated research in groups and teams. This review examines the cognitive processes that anticipate judgment and decision making in teams with particular emphasis on the processes that enhance or diminish decision and judgment effectiveness.
Janis, Irving L. Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascos. 2d ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982.
The classic historical analysis of critical decisions by teams that have, for better or worse, influenced the course of history. The book describes a model of the antecedents, symptoms, causes, and means of preventing groupthink (when group pressures toward reaching agreement interfere with the critical thought needed for making sound group decisions).
Kerr, Norbert L., and R. Scott Tindale. “Group Performance and Decision Making.” Annual Review of Psychology 55 (2004): 623–655.
This review provides an overview of group decision-making literature. The authors point out how group decision-making studies have shifted from a social influence emphasis to an information processing emphasis. They also provide a prospective on future research needs in group decision making.
Nemeth, Charles. In Defense of Troublemakers: The Power of Dissent in Life and Business. New York: Basic Books, 2018.
One of the leading experts in the field of minority influence, the author tells interesting and convincing stories of how groups are treating their minority opinion holders badly and how this prevents groups from making well-informed decisions.
Sunstein, Cass R., and Reid Hastie. Wiser: Getting beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2015.
This book provides recommendations for teams that want to avoid groupthink and better utilize the collectives’ intellectual rigor.
Zsambok, Caroline E., and Gary Klein. Naturalistic Decision Making. New York: Routledge, 2009.
This book consists of chapters focusing on naturalistic team decision making, wherein teams actively change their courses of action based on feedback under rapidly changing environmental conditions.
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