How can you increase the collective intelligence of companies, or countries, or the whole world?

How can you increase the collective intelligence of companies, or countries, or the whole world? A lofty goal, but this study attempts to evaluate collective intelligence of a group and concluded that (1) it is not correlated with the intelligence of its individuals and (2) a moderate amount of diversity (as in including women) works best.

Thanks to Jeffrey J Davis for giving me permission to post my third feminist blog of the day (he assured me that I had not yet crossed the one-track-mind threshold)! Disclaimer, I’ve not read the original research article (which I generally like to do), so I can’t critically evaluate. Food for thought, anyhow.

Originally shared by Ziona Etzion

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9 Responses to How can you increase the collective intelligence of companies, or countries, or the whole world?

  1. Matt Kuenzel says:


    Well that is interesting. It reminds me of “ask the audience” in the TV show “Who wants to be a millionaire” when the audience had an uncanny ability to get the correct answer.

  2. Martha E Fay says:


    Rajini Rao why do you believe this study, rather than the one about the socio-cultural influence on women that may lead to decreased visuospatial capabilities? Both of them are ecological. Until we know their methods (specifically, analytic methods), we really don’t know whether to trust either of them. I could not get to the actual papers, which detailed methods, online (without paying $$). This one may have had more data points (ie, teams) – but it is still ecological, that is, it infers from the group back to individuals.


    Not trying to be combative, but you are touching on some very important issues in my own field.

  3. Rajini Rao says:


    I can send you the PNAS paper tomorrow (on the tribal study) and this one was published in Science, I can send you that too if you don’t have access. The PNAS paper was a pretty easy read, not sure if I can digest the Science paper until I look at it. Would be great to have your input on the methods. I’m very much a cell & molec gal, so this is out of my comfort zone.

  4. Rajini Rao says:


    Meanwhile, check out this link published in the Harvard Business Review (of all places) showing some of the data ..click on the “the female factor” after paragraph one. http://hbr.org/2011/06/defend-your-research-what-makes-a-team-smarter-more-women/ar/1

  5. Martha E Fay says:


    Please do send them – do you have my email address? These kinds of articles are fascinating, but when these kinds of studies are published, I really need to look at their methods. Epidemiology is a an area where quite sophisticated methods have been developed to tease out the biological from the socio-cultural. And most of those methods have not necessarily moved to other human (ie non-biological) disciplines.


    This was a particularly important issue for me in my doctoral work – we used to talk about the “hard” sciences (which you are in) and the “soft sciences” (sociology, psychology, anthropology, etc). I have tried since then to spend my life in the middle!

  6. Martha E Fay says:


    PS saw the link you mention, but it doesn’t cover methods. It’s an interview!

  7. Rajini Rao says:


    Couldn’t find your email..can you message it to me on FB? Or send me an email (rrao@jhmi.edu) and I will attach the pdfs. There must be a cooler way to share pdfs on Google using that black bar, besides email. Perhaps one of our smarter google plussers will inform us.

  8. Martha E Fay says:


    I’m surprised that you don’t see them on FB – have tried to make them available to FB friends. Meanwhile, have sent you a FB message, and will send a private message from here as well.

  9. Rajini Rao says:


    Martha E Fay , got it, thanks.

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