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"The more heterogeneity there was ... the less likely they were to share information."

Any sales person would probably tell you that to succeed, you need to dress and talk like the group you are trying to sell to. If you are selling to geeks, they wouldn't trust you if you turned up in a suit and talked MBA-language. On the other hand, if you were selling something to a corporate management team, you would probably need to focus on cost-cutting and efficiency. It doesn't matter what you sell, development processes or CASE tools, if it's "lean production" you talk their language and they will trust you.

Sanjay Basavaraju

Bob, again an insightful post. Thank you. I gathered from the post that information sharing is directly proportional to team's performance.

How would one justify the ability of deaf children in Nicaragua designing their own gesture system to communicate among themselves?

Have a great day!


I really enjoyed this post (and I definitely enjoy the blog)!

I've been thinking about many of these kinds of issues with respect to academic biomedical science. Lots of lab group heads seem to foster intragroup competition, which I think is terrible.

I blogged a bit more about it here.


Hi Professor Sutton,

A fantastic study and observation indeed. I once read a study that had very similar findings and proposed that information sharing was related to a person's sense of "trusted identity." That is, if a heterogeneous team quickly formed a basis for collective identity - simple things like having a team name, having a team mission, etc - that this would increase information sharing. When such a collective identity didn't exist, team members looked to other signals for knowing who to trust (i.e. gender, race, function, geography, etc), and this is where things break down.

Another question I have that I don't have a lot of data on: what is the impact of having a team lead vs. just a team of peers? One can envision an argument for greater sharing in either scenario for different reasons. It would be interesting to see if this has been studied.

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