Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 33 Number 3 2016 pp. 684-712

Not As Smart As We Think: A Study of Collective Intelligence in Virtual Groups

Barlow, Jordan B and Dennis, Alan R


Organizations increasingly use virtual groups for many types of work, yet little research has examined factors that make groups perform better across multiple different types of tasks. Previous research has proposed that groups, like individuals, have a general factor of collective intelligence, an ability to perform consistently across multiple types of tasks. We studied groups that used computer-mediated communication (CMC) to investigate whether collective intelligence is similar or different when groups work using CMC. A collective intelligence factor did not emerge among groups using CMC, suggesting that collective intelligence manifests itself differently depending on context. This is in contrast to previous findings. Our results surface a need for more research on boundary conditions of the construct of collective intelligence. Our findings also have practical implications: managers should take care when organizing virtual group work because groups that perform well on one type of task will not necessarily be the groups that do well on other tasks

Key words and phrases: collective intelligence, computer-mediated communication, group performance, intelligence, task types, virtual groups