Anita Williams Woolley of Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business will speak at the joint colloquium of the Communications and Information Science departments held from 1:30 to 2:45 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7, in Mann Library, room 102. At CMU, Williams Woolley is an associate professor of Organizational Behavior and Theory. She has a PhD in Organizational Behavior from Harvard University, where she also earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. At the Tepper School of Business, she teaches MBA and executive education courses on managing people and teams in organizations. Read more about her research here.

Title: Why are Some Teams Smarter Than Others? The Dynamics of Collective Intelligence in Teams

Abstract: Most of us are familiar with the idea of "general intelligence" in individuals, but no one has systematically examined whether a similar kind of "collective intelligence" exists for groups of people. In two studies with 192 groups, we find converging evidence of a general collective intelligence factor that explains a group's performance on a wide variety of tasks. This "c factor" is not strongly correlated with the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members, but is correlated with the average social sensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and the proportion of females in the group. In thinking about how the group context may affect group collective intelligence, a more recent study involving 150 teams looks at the impact of hierarchy and status competition. We find that hierarchy appears to enhance collective intelligence in predominantly female groups, but status competition reduces it by reducing the level of synchrony evident in group communication. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings will be discussed.