Research Summary

When it gets bad it gets better: curvilinear effect of communication difficulty in collaborations (w/ Tsedal Neeley and Michael Norton)

by Patricia Satterstrom


Our study explores how communication difficulties impact groups’ outcomes. Using a group simulation in a laboratory setting and a randomized control method, we look at the relationship of communication difficulties with individual and group process, performance, and experiential outcomes. Collecting data in a highly controlled environment with randomized conditions allows us to see whether communication difficulties lead to a steady decline in outcomes due to increasing tension between subgroups, or if there is in fact a turning point at which communication difficulties become so severe that they are treated as external challenges, enabling group members to work together more effectively. Our study builds on findings in the field and seeks to contribute to the distributed teams literature by providing insights into how communication difficulties can have differential impact on groups and can, at times, help bring people together.