Distributed Information and Group Decision-Making: Effects of Diversity and Affect Defended on Friday, 2 November 2007
Organizations tend to rely on small groups rather than individuals when important decision have to be made, based on the assumption that groups possess a broader range of informational resources and more diversity of insights than individuals. However, research on group decision-making shows that groups often fail to use effectively group members’ unique information. Central in this dissertation is the relationship between distributed information, the way groups process information, and the quality of the group decision. In three experiments, the influence of demographic diversity, dispositional negative affect, and mood on groups’ information elaboration process and groups’ decision quality is studied. Results indicate the following: Groups with distributed information and diverse demographic backgrounds elaborate information more and reach better decisions with a focus on information exchange and integration than without such a focus. Higher dispositional negative affect within a group with distributed information stimulates information elaboration and group decision quality. A negative mood within a group with distributed information only affects information elaboration within a group and groups’ decision quality positively if group members are lower in dispositional distress. In all three single experiments, information elaboration within a group mediates groups’ decision quality. It is concluded that diversity and affect – as disposition as well as mood – are important issues to include in group research and implications for research in organizational behaviour are discussed.
group decision making, distributed information, information exchange, demographic diversity, negative affect, mood