Distributed cognition in teams is influenced by type of task and nature of member interactions


In contemporary organizations, many—if not most—teams work on cognitive or information processing tasks (Hinsz, Tindale, & Vollrath, 1997). The past 50 years of research have taught us much about how information is accessed, created, attended to, and processed as teams attempt to complete various tasks. However, many of the information processing effects that have been observed are task specific, yet little research has focused specifically on tasks and how their information processing requirements differ. In this chapter, we discuss how task differences can impact how teams use and process information and how different information distribution patterns across members might impact performance. In addition, we address how constraints on the amount and type of interactions among the team members influences performance in different task domains. We hope our discussion demonstrates the importance of task differences for understanding team information processing and highlights where greater research focus will be fruitful.

In Handbook of Distributed Team Cognition. Submitted for review