Article Abstract

Larson, J. R., Jr. (2007).  Deep diversity and strong synergy: Modeling the impact of variability in members' Problem-solving strategies on group problem-solving performance.  Small Group Research, 38, 413-436. 

Abstract.   A computational model is presented that explores the effect of diversity among members’ problem-solving strategies on group problem-solving performance.  The model is called ValSeek, after the value-seeking problems with which it is concerned.  A value-seeking problem requires problem solvers to choose from a set of solution alternatives that vary in their underlying value.  The goal is to discover the solution with the highest value.  The model is restricted to problems for which it is impractical to evaluate every possible solution alternative.  For such problems, the strategies that problem solvers use to navigate the solution space are critical to their performance.  The article describes how value-seeking problems, and various strategies for solving them, are represented generically in the computer program that instantiates the model.  The results of a simulation study using this model suggest that (a) diverse groups should perform better than homogeneous groups, (b) diverse groups should perform better than even their best individual members, and (c) cooperative interaction between members during problem solving should benefit the performance of diverse groups but impair the performance of homogeneous groups.