Leadership and the wisdom of crowds: how to tap into the collective intelligence of an organization

Kurt Matzler (University of Innsbruck)
Andreas Strobl (University of Innsbruck)

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Publication date: 18 January 2016



Under certain conditions, a mass of people can be smarter than the best expert – even if the expert is part of the group. In this paper we show how leaders can improve decision making by tapping into the collective intelligence of their organization.


Based on James Surowiecki’s four conditions of collective intelligence (cognitive diversity, independence, utilization of decentralized knowledge, and effective aggregation of dispersed knowledge), we discuss how leaders can tap into the wisdom of the crowd of their organizations.


We show how leaders can increase cognitive diversity in decision making, access decentralized knowledge in their organizations, encourage individuals to contribute their knowledge without interference from peer pressure, conformity or influence from superiors, and how knowledge can effectively be aggregated to make wiser decisions.


While various tools exist to reap the collective intelligence of a group, we argue that leaders also must change their attitudes and leadership styles. Using evidence from various studies and several examples we show what leaders can do to make smarter decisions.



This work was supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), project “Crowdsourcing Strategy”, project number P 27445.


Matzler, K., Strobl, A. and Bailom, F. (2016), "Leadership and the wisdom of crowds: how to tap into the collective intelligence of an organization", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 44 No. 1, pp. 30-35. https://doi.org/10.1108/SL-06-2015-0049

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