Hidden Knowledge

Despite the obvious utility of a divide and conquer approach to information exchange and division of knowledge among team members, it is often the case that the processes of information sharing and discussion within a team will focus on information that is shared among team members, rather than that which is unique, and potentially significant, to individual team members. A phenomena described by Stasser & Titus (1985) as hidden knowledge profiles, is one in which the “information that supports the optimal decision alternative is largely unshared, whereas information that supports the less desirable option is mostly shared” (Bowman & Wittenbaum, 2012, p. 296). The presence of these hidden knowledge profiles can significantly restrict a team’s ability to develop a COP, as important and relevant information key to fostering success goes unshared. In fact, as Stasser & Titus (1987) state, “the way in which unshared information was distributed among members could significantly bias their pre-discussion preferences and that discussion in their groups rarely countered or corrected this initial bias” (p. 82), leading to nonoptimal decision making, and failure to successfully complete tasks and goals. In a crisis setting, this can be disastrous. The impacts of hidden knowledge on information sharing in teams can be compounded further by the influence of other contextual factors. Distribution of teams, national culture, and time pressure, among other things can compound the impacts of hidden knowledge and influence the kind of information that team members share.

Cultural Composition

At a basic level, diversity within a team impacts the levels of information that is shared among team members (Mesmer-Magnus & DeChurch, 2009) with higher levels of homogeneity paving the way for more cohesive interactions; however, this can lead to a lack of richness in problem solving a decision making. In crisis management, appropriate consideration of the cultural perspectives of team members represents an area in need of significant growth; the high-stakes nature of crisis response is not forgiving to errors that might arise from cultural misunderstandings on multicultural teams or from ingrained perspectives that disallow important information to be conveyed in a timely and articulated manner.

 
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