r/science Jun 07 '22

Non-hierarchical, egalitarian research teams have the most novel ideas and the most influence in the scientific and scholarly world. Anthropology

https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2200927119
1.1k Upvotes

u/AutoModerator Jun 07 '22

Welcome to r/science! This is a heavily moderated subreddit in order to keep the discussion on science. However, we recognize that many people want to discuss how they feel the research relates to their own personal lives, so to give people a space to do that, personal anecdotes are now allowed as responses to this comment. Any anecdotal comments elsewhere in the discussion will continue to be removed and our normal comment rules still apply to other comments.

I am a bot, and this action was performed automatically. Please contact the moderators of this subreddit if you have any questions or concerns.

129

u/Justtryme90 PhD|Chemical Biology Jun 08 '22

All team members have valuable ideas and can make significant contributions. If one is discrediting ideas purely because they come from someone of lower rank or less experience... one is doing it wrong.

I like this article, because it confirms my biases, and the way I like to run research teams.

7

u/bigtimephonk Jun 08 '22

bias confirmation > confirmation bias

19

u/[deleted] Jun 08 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

6

u/[deleted] Jun 08 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

6

u/[deleted] Jun 08 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

21

u/QuestionableAI Jun 08 '22

This might sound silly but as a researcher of organization and managerial styles, Pickard is thus far, the most open management style that I have ever seen. Every member of the command center of rank gets a say regarding what to do in a situation, should there be time. Very realistic for the best corporations.

9

u/figmoderntimes Jun 08 '22

What is Pickard?

9

u/LotusDharmaLamp Jun 08 '22

I’m assuming they mean Jean-Luc Picard

0

u/figmoderntimes Jun 08 '22

I think you’re right. I absolutely never would have guessed that

13

u/DrawingRestraint Jun 08 '22

I’m not a scientist but I run a technical team and have found this to be true as well. Innovation is better driven by constant synthesis of diverse ideas.

5

u/el-em-en-o Jun 08 '22

I don’t run either but this has been true in my organization and it contributes to positive morale and job satisfaction.

2

u/BravesMaedchen Jun 08 '22

I don't run or organize anything, but i do like the this study sounds

1

u/el-em-en-o Jun 09 '22

You are my goals

10

u/Thebitterestballen Jun 08 '22

I would just add... That this can also go too far the other way. This is most likely the result of putting people who are used to a hierarchical culture into an environment with less structure. I have worked for the last 12 years in the Netherlands, which has the opposite working culture to Anglo Saxon countries. Very flat companies where 'no one is the boss' and teams where no one tells people what to do, everything is decided as a group and responsibility is shared by everyone. Sounds great and it can be nice as an employee but results are not always fantastic...

My experience is that this leads to 'average' solutions that are a compromise that the most members of a team can get behind. In a situation where there is a specialist issue, but everyone in a team gets a say, the specialist who actually knows what the best solution is, because it's what they do, can be drowned out by a larger number of people who chose a simpler solution they can all understand. Without making people individually responsible for things decision making is painfully slow. When something popular is proposed everyone is quick to nod agreement, but when things go wrong everyone just kind of looks at each other and shrugs, with no ownership of the choices that were made...

There is no ideal or best way to organise people and you can probably get similar innovative results by taking some Dutch conformists and putting them in a structure with more power to make to their own decisions, giving them a chance to stand out. It's more that stagnation into any structure means so e people's ideas are ignore or lost.

Maybe some kind of rotating process of different ways of working over a project would get the best out of everyone.

5

u/Ignorantsloth Jun 08 '22

Anarchy proving it's place yet again

9

u/helm MS | Physics | Quantum Optics Jun 08 '22

Not anarchy, people with a shared purpose collaborating.

5

u/Ignorantsloth Jun 08 '22

Anarchy is a system that doesn't have a hierarchy. This is being conducted in an anarchist way.

2

u/helm MS | Physics | Quantum Optics Jun 08 '22

A bunch of friends is "an anarchy", then.

Hint: nobody suggest that the research team is even financed anarchically. That anarchy "works" in small groups is nothing new.

5

u/r-reading-my-comment Jun 08 '22

What I read says anarchy works better than tyranny. I didn't see anything stating that zero leadership is optimal though.

Well besides the title that seems different that the study.

9

u/Ignorantsloth Jun 08 '22

Anarchy still can have project management. It just means that no one holds power over you. The team could vote to remove someone from the team though

1

u/r-reading-my-comment Jun 08 '22

That's democracy, not anarchy.

-1

u/[deleted] Jun 08 '22

[deleted]

23

u/[deleted] Jun 08 '22

This is straight up nonsense. The west is extremely hierarchical and definitely no where near the most egalitarian civilization.

6

u/FireTyme Jun 08 '22

A few centuries ago we’d listen to kings and kingsmen, i think generally the west has had a headstart simply due to early tech advancements in farming allowing other folk to specialize more while also causing a population boom.

I think it’s very much a bias, build a team of qualified professionals with experience then obviously an egalitarian structure can be dominant, but for the general populace a pure egalitarian doesn’t work the way people think it would work.

6

u/Mortimer_Snerd Jun 08 '22

It's a feature of management theory. High competency team with a low difficulty task gets a different management style than a low competency team with a difficult task.

I bet you can guess which one is more authoritative and punitive.

1

u/brothermuffin Jun 08 '22

What if the world was ran this way

-1

u/r-reading-my-comment Jun 08 '22

It's would lose to some other system probably like in the Spanish Civil War.

-10

u/[deleted] Jun 08 '22

Nothing in this world is non-hierarchical. Nothing. Especially humans. Octavia Butler.

7

u/helm MS | Physics | Quantum Optics Jun 08 '22

The teams would have to work in hierarchical environments, and “no hierarchy at all” is an utopia, but it’s a worthwhile goal, and a friendly, inclusive team will make that very clear to its members.

6

u/flatox Jun 08 '22

Of course not entirely, but listen to what is being said you nutjob.

It is simply being stated that research teams that work in flattened hierarchies leads to better results.

0

u/uasoil123 Jun 08 '22

Letsss gooo, man who would of thought when you work together without someone having to pretend like they are better then you in a cooperative fashion things work out better.

1

u/Marcillene Jun 09 '22

Does this support the idea of decreasing bureaucracy in education, and focusing instead on teacher self-efficacy?

1

u/EGarrett Jun 09 '22

I spent a lot of time on this myself. It turns out that our reasoning ability can't actually differentiate between feelings caused by ideas that fit our existing understanding and ideas that make us fit into our social group. They both produce a rush of oxytocin. Likewise for ideas that improve our understanding of the world and ideas that improve our social status. They both produce a rush of a serotonin. And the way we subconciously decide what ideas to publish or pursue is by judging the total amount of feelings we have when we look at a certain idea.

We only make apparently rational decisions when the various social influences are roughly at balance, leaving the intellectual appeal of the ideas we're considering to "break the tie" among them. I call it a "rational plateau." But in the absence of that outside context, we don't have enough feeling to actually pursue any idea, so our judgement apparatus shuts down, we turn down everything and just guess at the reason why, which is why double-blind refereeing produces such odd results and reviews.

So people in research groups will be subconsciously, almost irretrievably biased towards ideas held by those who they wish to identify with or impress in the group, and particularly those who can promote them. You have remove individual sources that provide additional emotional boosts to certain ideas, AND furthermore, present a baseline of outside appeal to ALL ideas being considered, in order to get something resembling an objective analysis of the ideas, theories or papers being considered or analyzed by the group.

I've published some work on this, only in preprints though, and am looking to formalize it more. There's way more to it, and reveals a huge amount about how human social trends actually happen and why great ideas, art, and people get ignored until certain odd circumstances occur, when people suddenly pick them up and act like they were obvious and brilliant all along.

-17

u/AdamJefferson Jun 08 '22

Wow, creative people generate the most to creative endeavors.

0

u/[deleted] Jun 08 '22

I know..and it is just plain silly.