Collective, especially group-based, managerial decision making is crucial in organizations. Using an evolutionary theory approach to collective decision making, agent-based simulations were conducted to investigate how collective decision making would be affected by the agents' diversity in problem understanding and/or behavior in discussion, as well as by their social network structure. Simulation results indicated that groups with consistent problem understanding tended to produce higher utility values of ideas and displayed better decision convergence, but only if there was no group-level bias in collective problem understanding. Simulation results also indicated the importance of balance between selection-oriented (i.e., exploitative) and variation-oriented (i.e., explorative) behaviors in discussion to achieve quality final decisions. Expanding the group size and introducing non-trivial social network structure generally improved the quality of ideas at the cost of decision convergence. Simulations with different social network topologies revealed that collective decision making on small-world networks with high local clustering tended to achieve highest decision quality more often than on random or scale-free networks. Implications of this evolutionary theory and simulation approach for future managerial research on collective, group, and multi-level decision making are discussed.
Evolutionary perspectives on collective decision making: Studying the implications of diversity and social network structure with agent-based simulations
Hiroki Sayama, Shelley D. Dionne, Francis J. Yammarino