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Hidden consequences of the group-serving bias: Causal attributions and the quality of group decision making

  • Goncalo, Jack A.
  • Duguid, Michelle M.
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    A long stream of research in attribution theory suggests that groups are biased toward attributing their success to factors that are internal to their group. However, the existing research has confounded two types of attributions that are both internal to the group, but theoretically distinct: (1) attributions that differentiate between the contributions made by each individual group member and (2) attributions that focus on the group as a whole. This dichotomy is important because, drawing on theories of social influence, we predict that different types of attributions will have different consequences for the quality of group decision making. In Experiment 1, individually focused attributions for past success caused groups to consider more divergent alternatives prior to making a shared decision. In Experiment 2, individually focused attributions for past success facilitated the sharing of unique information and improved decision accuracy. These findings suggest that the group-serving tendency to internalize success may have important consequences for group performance that have not yet been considered in current research.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

    Volume (Year): 107 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 2 (November)
    Pages: 219-233

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:107:y:2008:i:2:p:219-233
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/obhdp

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    1. Ratner, Rebecca K. & Herbst, Kenneth C., 2005. "When good decisions have bad outcomes: The impact of affect on switching behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 23-37, January.
    2. Paulus, Paul B. & Yang, Huei-Chuan, 2000. "Idea Generation in Groups: A Basis for Creativity in Organizations," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 76-87, May.
    3. Phillips, Katherine W. & Loyd, Denise Lewin, 2006. "When surface and deep-level diversity collide: The effects on dissenting group members," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 143-160, March.
    4. Gruenfeld, Deborah H & Mannix, Elizabeth A. & Williams, Katherine Y. & Neale, Margaret A., 1996. "Group Composition and Decision Making: How Member Familiarity and Information Distribution Affect Process and Performance," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 1-15, July.
    5. Goncalo, Jack A. & Staw, Barry M., 2006. "Individualism-collectivism and group creativity," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 100(1), pages 96-109, May.
    6. Whyte, Glen, 1998. "Recasting Janis's Groupthink Model: The Key Role of Collective Efficacy in Decision Fiascoes," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 73(2-3), pages 185-209, February.
    7. Choi, Hoon-Seok & Thompson, Leigh, 2005. "Old wine in a new bottle: Impact of membership change on group creativity," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 121-132, November.
    8. Audia, Pino G. & Brion, Sebastien, 2007. "Reluctant to change: Self-enhancing responses to diverging performance measures," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 255-269, March.
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