Groups work better when stakes are gradually increased

December 11, 2019

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- A gradual approach to increasing the stakes of group coordination projects can improve overall team performance, according to a new research paper featuring faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York. 

"What drives successful group coordination is important because team coordination is ubiquitous in many work settings, such as in medical professions, in law enforcement, or in finance," said Plamen Nikolov, assistant professor of economics at Binghamton University. "Therefore, uncovering the key determinants of successful group coordination is paramount."

At the root of this success are efficient coordination mechanisms. Gradualism, defined as increasing the stakes of a fixed group coordination project step-by-step, is one such mechanism. This technique is frequently used within and between organizations in team building and training efforts, and collaborative endeavors, respectively. 

Examples of gradualism at work are abundant in the world of microfinance. "Group lending can result in better loan repayment rates when lenders first approve small loan sizes and then progressively approve a higher loan amount once a group proves to be a reliable borrower with smaller loan amounts," said Nikolov.

To study the effectiveness of gradualism as a group coordination mechanism, Nikolov and his team conducted an experiment in which groups were met with varying levels of stakes for hypothetical projects. One group had a gradual increase in stakes; the second group had consistently high stakes; and a third group had low stakes for the first half of the experiment and high stakes for the second half.

Nikolov and his team found that the gradualism treatment group significantly outperformed the alternative treatment groups. The gradualism group coordinated successfully nearly two-thirds of all sessions. Additionally, the occurrence of successful group coordination in the gradualism treatment was two to four times greater than the successful coordination seen in the alternative groups. 

"Our findings have broad lessons and implications for how managers can structure team practices where the decision regarding the order of tasks a team tackles is a variable that they have control over," said Nikolov. "If successful group coordination is a manager's objective, our central finding points to a stylized feature of how managers can structure group assignments optimally: teams need to start small and then progressively and slowly move to high-stake tasks."

According to Nikolov, future research will focus specifically on how individual beliefs toward other group members in a team affect gradualism and successful group coordination. 
The paper, "One Step at a Time: Does Gradualism Build Coordination?" was published in Management Science

Binghamton University

Related Mechanism Articles from Brightsurf:

Parkinson's dyskinesia mechanism explained
The mechanism underlying Parkinson's dyskinesia has been unknown, until now.

A cellular mechanism protecting against cancer
Susanne Hellmuth and Olaf Stemmann from the University of Bayreuth have discovered a natural protective mechanism that leads to the programmed death of potentially diseased cells.

New repair mechanism for DNA breaks
Researchers from the University of Seville and the Andalusian Centre of Molecular Biology and Regenerative Medicine (CABIMER) have identified new factors that are necessary for the repair of these breaks.

Antibiotics with novel mechanism of action discovered
Many life-threatening bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics.

New protein-sensing mechanism discovered
In a stunning discovery, molecular biologists from the University of Konstanz and ETH Zurich have been able to demonstrate that the nascent polypeptide-associated complex (NAC) senses newly synthesized proteins upon birth inside the ribosomal tunnel.

New deactivation mechanism for switch proteins detected
A new mechanism for the deactivation of switch proteins has been identified by researchers from Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum, headed by Professor Klaus Gerwert and Dr.

A new mechanism for accessing damaged DNA
UV light damages the DNA of skin cells, which can lead to cancer.

New mechanism of bone growth discovered
In a paper published in Nature, researchers at Karolinska Institutet report that bone growth in mice takes place in accordance with the same principles as when new cells are constantly produced in blood, skin and other tissue.

An elegant mechanism
Researchers discovered a connection between metabolite and protein transport in the powerhouse of the cell.

A new mechanism in the control of inflammation
Researchers at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC) have discovered a new inflammation control mechanism that shows how the damage caused by the immune response can be controlled.

Read More: Mechanism News and Mechanism Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to