Research Summary

Transparency and Creative Knowledge Work

by Ethan S. Bernstein


We have assumed that taking down walls in high-value, high-talent workplaces like architectural firms, biotech laboratories, and health-care operations will improve output by generating more interdisciplinary collaboration. The results above, however, suggest there may be hidden costs to interdisciplinary transparency. When observed, human beings tend to try to meet the expectations of those observing them, and yet in these creative, knowledge-intensive environments, it may be the most unexpected, weird-looking idea that solves a dilemma or saves a life. What is the net effect? Do these environments work the same or differently than the manufacturing and problem-solving environments above?