Is bigger better? A study of the effect of group size on collective intelligence in online groups

Paper by Nada Hashmi, G. Shankaranarayanan and Thomas W. Malone: “What is the optimal size for online groups that use electronic communication and collaboration tools? Previous research typically suggested optimal group sizes of about 5 to 7 members, but this research predominantly examined in-person groups. Here we investigate online groups whose members communicate with each other using two electronic collaboration tools: text chat and shared editing. Unlike previous research that studied groups performing a single task, here we measure group performance using a test of collective intelligence (CI) that includes a combination of tasks specifically chosen to predict performance on a wide range of other tasks [72]. Our findings suggest that there is a curvilinear relationship between group size and performance and that the optimal group size in online groups is between 25 and 35. This, in turn, suggests that online groups may now allow more people to be productively involved in group decision-making than was possible with in-person groups in the past…(More)”.