Stanford Study Demonstrates how Collaboration and Teamwork can Dramatically Improve Productivity

| By TMA World

Collaboration: Purpose, Environment, and Incentives

Stanford study from a few years back found that just the perception of working together on a task can greatly increase performance.

Social cues that signaled an invitation to work with others fueled intrinsic motivation even when people were working alone.  Participants:  

  • Persisted 64% longer on a challenging task
  • Reported greater engagement in and enjoyment of the task
  • Experienced lower fatigue
  • Reported a higher success rate

Similar results were reported recently on a joint study between the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and Rob Cross, Professor of Global Business at Babson College.  In the study of over 1,100 companies, those that promoted collaborative working were 5 times as likely to be high-performing.

Does collaboration in the workplace payoff?

The study authors concluded that the key to productive collaboration is purpose.

Once purpose has been established, the environment must support and promote collaborative working, e.g. how information flows through the organization, how decisions are made, how employee behaviors are measured and rewarded, and the physical layout of the workplace.

Kevin Martin, Chief Research Officer at i4cp says that “The lack of incentives and rewards is the most common and powerful barrier to effective collaboration.”

A study in 2013 found that we tend not to collaborate when there is little incentive to do so.

In 2015, a study examined whether we collaborate less during a recession.  The theory was that recessions promote more me-first behavior. The researchers examined about 60,000 responses from the World Values Survey, and there was a clear correlation between the wider economy and the belief that success is ‘zero-sum’ – someone wins, someone loses.

The felt perception of working together toward a clear purpose in a supportive environment along with the right incentives – make it happen! 

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