Faculty participating in X-Culture, a global virtual team project started by Vasyl Taras at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (see “Grassroots Innovation” on page 33), are currently working on a study on the effect of “free-riders” who don’t pull their own weight on virtual teams. Although free-riding can be a problem on any team, it can be especially prevalent when team members have never met each other and have no sense of social obligation or reciprocity to each other.
A global team’s performance can plummet if just one of its members shirks his or her responsibilities, says Taras. “It’s all about the perception of injustice,” he says. “If one person on a ten-member team doesn’t do his share of the work, logic says that the team’s performance should decrease by ten percent. But our data show that when one student on a team doesn’t participate, it leads to a disproportionately large loss in performance. If two stop participating, everyone stops working because they think, ‘Why should I work if those two aren’t working and we’re all getting the same grade?’”
Using data collected from X-Culture projects, faculty already have reduced nonparticipation among X-Culture students dramatically, from 30 percent to about 3.5 percent. By employing the following strategies, Taras believes other professors can achieve the same success:
Require weekly peer evaluations. When students can evaluate their team members, “it works like magic, because students can restore a sense of justice on the team if someone isn’t doing his share of the work,” says Taras.
Give the power to exclude. Students can vote on whether a free-rider can stay on the team. The possibility of being voted off the team gives everyone an incentive to contribute, says Taras.
Cultivate cultural intelligence. After testing how factors such as team size, cultural diversity, or age affect the level of free-riding, X-Culture faculty have found that cultural intelligence plays the biggest role. Students who are culturally intelligent—who respect and can listen effectively to a diverse range of people—are much less likely to shirk their duties.
That’s why many X-Culture faculty devote up to a week in their course schedules to activities that allow students to learn about their teammates’ interests, families, and other personal information. “When people know each other, they have a sense of social obligation, which increases how much they respect each other and how much they’ll commit to accomplishing a common goal,” says Taras. “That extra time might seem unrelated to the project, but it makes a huge difference in the project’s outcome.”
What do unconditional cash transfers, brain science, big data, and collective impact have in common? They were all subjects covered in the top SSIR articles published this year. New approaches to philanthropy proved a particularly hot topic. Here’s a look at what piqued the most interest—and, in the spirit of the holidays, they’re all open to nonsubscribers!
1. "The Re-Emerging Art of Funding Innovation" In this top feature story, Monitor Institute’s Gabriel Kasper and Justin Marcoux look at how some funders are reintroducing risk-taking and “injecting innovation” into their grantmaking practices.
4. "Rethinking Poverty" This article, based on new brain science research, looks at how the stresses of poverty can impact people’s ability to think critically and find ways to escape their condition. Written by Elisabeth Babcock. (Find more articles on poverty here.)
That is the argument that Henrik Jacobsen Kleven, a professor at the London School of Economics, offers to explain the exceptional rates of participation in the work force among citizens of Sweden, Norway and his native Denmark.
If correct, it could have broad implications for how the United States might better use its social safety net to encourage Americans to work. In particular, it could mean that more direct aid to the working poor could help coax Americans into the labor force more effectively than the tax credits that have been a mainstay for compromise between Republicans and Democrats for the last generation.
After years of stress, in-fighting, anxiety and admin, the day has almost arrived: on 18 December, the results of the latest university research audit will be released.
The research excellence framework (REF), an exercise that assesses the quality of academic research, is a huge deal for universities and academics.
The results determine how much research funding they are granted – there’s £2bn a year up for grabs – and they’re used to determine institutions’ rankings in league tables. A poor performance can close a department, while a top rating means steady funding.
154 UK universities took part in the REF, with special panels reviewing a total of 190,000 research submissions by 52,000 academic staff.
How does the process work?
Every six years, institutions are asked to submit examples of their best research to be assessed by a team of academics and industry experts. Each subject area is awarded up to four stars...
"The upshot is that, as you scale an organization, getting rid of the hierarchy--or even assuming that a flatter one is better--is the wrong goal," writes Sutton. "Your job is to build the best hierarchy you can."
Dr Dennis Lendrem, of the University of Newcastle, said: "Idiotic risks are defined as senseless risks, where the apparent payoff is negligible or non existent, and the outcome is often extremely negative and often final".
As work organizations become increasingly gender diverse, existing theoretical models have failed to explain why such diversity can have a negative impact on idea generation. Using evidence from two group experiments, this paper tests theory on the effects of imposing a political correctness (PC) norm, one that sets clear expectations for how men and women should interact, on reducing interaction uncertainty and boosting creativity in mixed-sex groups. Our research shows that men and women both experience uncertainty when asked to generate ideas as members of a mixed-sex work group: men because they may fear offending the women in the group and women because they may fear having their ideas devalued or rejected. most group creativity research begins with the assumption that creativity is unleashed by removing normative constraints, but our results show that the PC norm promotes rather than suppresses the free expression of ideas by reducing the uncertainty experienced by both sexes in mixed-sex work groups and signaling that the group is predictable enough to risk sharing more—and more-novel—ideas. Our results demonstrate that the PC norm, which is often maligned as a threat to free speech, may play an important role in promoting gender parity at work by allowing demographically heterogeneous work groups to more freely exchange creative ideas.
Are economists superfluous? Since the last financial crisis a debate has raged as to whether economists still have much relevant insight to offer citizens and politicians alike. Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently called upon economists at the meeting of Nobel laureates in Lindau to deliver more practical recommendations to policymakers and to revise their conceptual structure of what is described as economic success. Economics is now in the defensive, in a predicament of its own doing.
The criticism is paradoxical. Economics still is hugely influential: most public policy—ranging from employment to social policy, from environmental to resource policy, from monetary to fiscal policy or health policy—is firmly based on mainstream economic assumptions. The way in which most economic phenomena—inflation, unemployment, growth, inequality, etc.—are treated in the media and public discussion also relies implicitly on the paradigms to be found in economics textbooks.
In response to this paradox—widespread dissatisfaction with economics and widespread dependence on mainstream economic thinking—I claim that economics needs to change in one profound way: the domain of “economics” must change, that is, the content of what is considered to be economics must be redefined...
The Kiel Institute for the World Economy (Institut für Weltwirtschaft, IfW) is an economics research center and a think tank that is located in Kiel, Germany. In 2013, it was ranked as one of the top 20 research centers in the world for International Trade and one of the top four think tank in the world for economic policy. With more than four million publications in printed or electronic format and subscriptions to 31,970 periodicals and journals, the Institute has the world's largest specialist library for economics.
The fourth annual Emerging-Trendence Global Employability Ranking organizes the world’s top 150 universities according to surveys of 2,500 international recruiters in 20 countries, with the most responses coming from the United States, China, Japan and Britain.
The days of ivory towers are over. According to a ground-breaking survey of what recruiters of major companies are looking for in university systems round the world, the only clouds tomorrow’s graduates are to have their heads in are i-clouds. Their feet, meanwhile, should be firmly planted in their field of expertise as a result of practical training and internships. Employability is the no.1 criterion recruiters look at when choosing a university according to 37.1% of respondents.
For the fourth year running, French Human Resources consultancy Emerging has joined forces with German polling institute Trendence to interview 4,500 recruiters in 20 different countries and produce a global picture with a unique ranking of today’s best universities in terms of the employability of graduates, while also obtaining an enlightening vision of tomorrow’s university. This ranking differs from others by focusing less on academic achievement in terms of research and development, more on the working skills of graduates, and by covering a considerably wider range of countries. It is a valuable tool for employers, but also for educational establishments and students.