Francisco Dao

Many managers believe that a good corporate culture can encourage employees to share their opinions and solve the diversity requirement, but with few exceptions corporate cultures work against the sharing of dissimilar ideas. In the competing schools of thought on culture — team versus competitive — both models embody elements that undermine collective intelligence. The team concept, based on fostering familiarity and friendly cooperation between employees, often results in congeniality taking precedence over the introduction of ideas that might prove unpopular. In an environment that values teamwork as the top priority, employees hesitate to do anything that might cause tension or question the status quo. Harmony and established procedures prevail over legitimate open discussion. When this happens, action takes a back seat to talk, and meetings become less about solving problems than about finding agreement. By putting the team above all else, this type of culture undermines the diversity of thought necessary for effective group decision-making.

On the other end of the spectrum is the culture of competition. The reasoning here is to treat the entire company as a microcosm of the free-market economy…But intra-corporate competition can easily backfire: Individual units of a company are interdependent and must share internal information, while companies competing against each other in the broad market do not. When performance is measured as a competition with winners and losers, individual achievement takes precedence over company goals, and withholding knowledge becomes unavoidable…In direct contrast to the team culture, the competitive culture succeeds in creating independent and diverse thinking — but makes it impossible to aggregate that knowledge because people are unwilling to share.

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