The Impact of Information and Communication Technologies on the Collective Intelligence of Human Groups


Project Sponsor: German Research Foundation
Start: 09/2017
End: 03/2019
Project Duration: ​​18 months
Contact: ​Prof. Dr. Henner Gimpel​​

Collaboration of human groups is widely spread in work life. Being skilled at group work is an important organisational asset and organisations are keen on forming high performance groups of their employees and members and to equip these groups with technology support. Thereby, the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) allows group work to cross natural boundaries such as place and time and virtual collaboration becomes ever more present in light of digitization. Each individual group member has a level of general individual intelligence. Likewise, research suggests that each group has a certain level of collective intelligence. A group’s collective intelligence in particular describes its inherent ability to perform well on a wide variety of cognitive tasks. However, as collective intelligence in this sense was initially detected in the context of groups collaborating in a traditional face-to-face context, science today is indecisive whether the phenomenon also emerges in contemporary digital contexts. When looking at the first studies in this area, there is no pertinent theorizing or convincing empirical evidence concerning the impact of ICTs on the occurrence and structure of collective intelligence in human groups. Therefore, the project at hand aims at investigating how the existence and structure of collective intelligence in human groups is impacted by ICTs with varying degrees of media capacity. A comprehensive analysis of the state of the research and an own preliminary experiment on collective intelligence highlight the need for further research in this area. A work program spanning 18 month is suggested, to analyze the emergence and structure of collective intelligence in ICT-supported group work. The primary methodologies are a laboratory experiment to rigorously establish empirical evidence in a controlled environment and factor-analytical techniques to analyse the data.