People over-claim their contributions more in larger teams

New York, March 8 (IANS) Size of a team can lead people to inflate their own contributions while diminishing their team members’ work, and bigger the teams, the more individual members of a team “over-claim” their contributions, says a study.

The findings, to be published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, do not suggest that people intend to take more credit than due.

Instead, people inadvertently fail to account for everyone’s contributions because they are naturally egocentric, and it is harder to consider everyone’s contributions when groups are larger, the researchers said.

“People were surprised about the extent that over-claiming occurs. They think their reporting is accurate,” said study co-author Juliana Schroeder, assistant professor of management at University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

In a series of experiments, the study participants – 699 MBA students enrolled in a negotiations course – answered six questions to measure how much work they claimed.

For example, they were asked, “Of the total work that your study group did last semester, what percent of the work do you feel like you personally contributed?” based on categories such as preparing case write-ups; providing insights; proposing teamwork suggestions, raising key questions; and providing answers to other group member’s questions.

The study offered no reward for over-claiming one’s contribution.

The math did not add up. The percentages consistently added up to more than 100 percent, indicating over-claiming. Teams with eight or more members claimed credit totaling more than 140 percent!

The researchers also conducted experiments with academic authors, museum visitors, and a large-sale national sample – producing similar results supporting over-claiming.

To reduce over-claiming, “when you have large groups, you might want to consider breaking down the group into smaller teams,” Schroeder suggested.

“It is also important to make the workflow very clear. If assignments are clearly divided, it is easier for people to remember who is doing what,” Schroeder noted.

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