The effects of diversity on group productivity and member withdrawal in online volunteer groups

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The effects of diversity on group productivity and member withdrawal in online volunteer groups is a 2010 conference paper written in English by Chen J., Ren Y., Riedl J. and published in Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings.

[edit] Abstract

The "wisdom of crowds" argument emphasizes the importance of diversity in online collaborations, such as open source projects and Wikipedia. However, decades of research on diversity in offline work groups have painted an inconclusive picture. On the one hand, the broader range of insights from a diverse group can lead to improved outcomes. On the other hand, individual differences can lead to conflict and diminished performance. In this paper, we examine the effects of group diversity on the amount of work accomplished and on member withdrawal behaviors in the context of WikiProjects. We find that increased diversity in experience with Wikipedia increases group productivity and decreases member withdrawal - up to a point. Beyond that point, group productivity remains high, but members are more likely to withdraw. Strikingly, no such diminishing returns were observed for differences in member interest, which increases productivity and decreases member withdrawal in a linear fashion. Our results suggest that the low visibility of individual differences in online groups may allow them to harvest more of the benefits of diversity while bearing less of the cost. We discuss how our findings can inform further research of online collaboration.

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