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Uncovering hidden profiles: advocacy in team decision making

Brian D. Waddell (Bryant University, Smithfield, Rhode Island, USA)
Michael A. Roberto (Management Department, Bryant University, Smithfield, Rhode Island, USA)
Sukki Yoon (Management Department, Bryant University, Smithfield, Rhode Island, USA)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 1 March 2013

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Abstract

Purpose

Research shows that teams often fail to surface and use unique information to evaluate decision alternatives. Under a condition known as the hidden profile, each member uniquely possesses a critical clue needed to uncover the superior solution. Failure to share and adequately evaluate this information will result in poor decision quality. The aim of this paper is to examine the impact of the devil's advocacy technique on the decision quality of hidden profile teams.

Design/methodology/approach

In order to mitigate this team decision‐making bias, the present study utilizes experimental research to examine the impact of the devil's advocacy technique on the decision quality of hidden profile teams.

Findings

Results show that devil's advocacy groups achieved higher decision quality than groups under free discussion. However, devil's advocacy teams also had higher levels of affective conflict. As a result, while they selected the best solution, devil's advocacy introduced conditions that may hinder the solution's implementation

Research limitations/implications

Similar experiments with advocacy techniques suggest that the positive effect on decision quality found here may be reduced in the presence of stronger hidden profiles.

Practical implications

While the devil's advocacy technique has the potential to uncover hidden profiles and improve group decision making, the paper recommends that managers use this technique only in teams with strong critical thinking norms that foster constructive conflict.

Originality/value

To the authors' knowledge, no study has examined the impact of devil's advocacy in groups where information is not shared equally prior to deliberations.

Keywords

Citation

Waddell, B.D., Roberto, M.A. and Yoon, S. (2013), "Uncovering hidden profiles: advocacy in team decision making", Management Decision, Vol. 51 No. 2, pp. 321-340. https://doi.org/10.1108/00251741311301849

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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