When two heads aren’t better than one

By Dylan Walsh

When do teams outperform individuals? Despite the universal importance of this question, researchers have long struggled to pin down a clear response.

But new work by MIT Sloan assistant professorAbdullah Almaatouq helps find concrete answers by demonstrating that simple tasks are best accomplished by individuals, while complex ones are more efficiently completed by a group.

“For tasks that were simple, we found that individuals were more efficient than teams,” Almaatouq said. (Efficiency was defined by the relationship between how long it took to complete a task and how good the result was.) “When the task was more complex it went the other way, with teams more efficient than individuals.”

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