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Diversity Leads to Better Decisions

March 25, 2014, 5:29 PM
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There are obvious reasons why diversity is important to an organization. Economist Tim Harford, who has been called "Britain's Malcolm Gladwell," discusses the surprising benefits of diversity in the latest installment of Big Think's Edge.

Effective Decision Making:

"We often hear people singing the praises of diversity, and there are lots of good reasons why we should have diversity: to correct historic injustices and to be fair to all sorts of different kinds of people. Less often we hear the benefit of diversity because it just helps groups of people make better decisions," says Harford, a regular contributor to The Financial Times and the author of multiple books, including his latest, The Undercover Economist.

The Psychology of Non-Conformity:  

Harford cites a study by psychologist Solomon Asch from the 1950s that explored social pressure. The study clearly exposed the power of conformity. Test subjects chose the obviously wrong answer after the group--played by hired actors--had made the same wrong choice.

Resist Conformity:

As the Solomon Asch study also showed, Harford points out, just one lone voice is enough to inspire others to speak-up and break the chains of conformity. The pressure of conformity can indeed prevent productive discourse. Therefore, effective decision making relies on a diversity of voices. Does your organization generate diverse discussions?

Listen to Harford explain the power of diversity in the latest installment of Edge. 

 

More from the Big Idea for Monday, June 23 2014

Diversity

Are there common differences between letters of recommendation written for men versus those written for women? One would think not. If the experiences are similar and the job is the same, why shou... Read More…

 

Diversity Leads to Better D...

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