Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 9, Iss. 3, July, 2005, pp. 297-333
@2005 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


A Rugged Landscape Model for Self-Organization and Emergent Leadership in Creative Problem Solving and Production Groups

Stephen J. Guastello, Marquette University
Joanna Craven, Marquette University
Karen M. Zygowicz, Marquette University
Benjamin R. Bock, Marquette University

Abstract: The process by which an initially leaderless group differentiates into one containing leadership and secondary role structures was examined using the swallowtail catastrophe model and principles of selforganization. The objectives were to identify the control variables in the process of leadership emergence in creative problem solving groups and production groups. In the first of two experiments, groups of university students (total N = 114) played a creative problem solving game. Participants later rated each other on leadership behavior, styles, and variables related to the process of conversation. A performance quality measure was included also. Control parameters in the swallowtail catastrophe model were identified through a combination of factor analysis and nonlinear regression. Leaders displayed a broad spectrum of behaviors in the general categories of Controlling the Conversation and Creativity in their role-play. In the second experiment, groups of university students (total N = 197) engaged in a laboratory work experiment that had a substantial production goal component. The same system of ratings and modeling strategy was used along with a work production measure. Leaders in the production task emerged to the extent that they exhibited control over both the creative and production aspects of the task, they could keep tension low, and the externally imposed production goals were realistic.

Keywords: leadership, emergence, swallowtail catastrophe, creative problem solving, group productivity, self-organization