Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 11, Iss. 1, January, 2007, pp. 91-117
@2007 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


The Emergence of Leadership in Coordination-intensive Groups

Stephen J. Guastello, Marquette University
Robert W. Bond, Jr., Marquette University

Abstract: lthough group coordination was introduced to psychology in the early 1990s, it was not until the advent of nonlinear dynamical systems (NDS) that it was possible to gain an understanding of how the process of implicit learning and self-organization take place in conditions where no hierarchical (management) influences are involved. This ex¨perimental study examined how leaders might emerge from coordination-intensive task groups where verbal interaction is not possible. NDS and game-theoretical research indicate that the presence of leaders is not required to produce coordination. Thus the question remains as to whether leaders would emerge from coordination-intensive task groups in the similar manner to how they emerge from other types of groups. In the experiment, 13 4-person groups were allowed to discuss the coordination (card game) task while performing it; 13 other groups worked nonverbally. Split-plot ANOVA showed that verbalizing groups performed better than nonverbalizing groups overall and showed more acute coordination learning curves. Nonlinear regression for temporal dynamics within verbalizing and nonverbalizing groups showed asymptotic stability for initial coordination learning and transfer to a coordination rule of equal difficulty, but a chaotic function was observed when the teams switched to a more difficult coordination rule. A questionnaire measured leadership emergence at the end of the game along with other social contributions to the groupsí efforts. The average level of leadership emergence for individuals did not differ between verbal and nonverbal conditions, although differences in other social contributions were observed. This experiment illustrates, furthermore, how the nonlinear science paradigm produces new hypotheses concerning verbalization that would not have been formulated otherwise. New avenues of study concerning coordination, leadership, and hierarchies are also discussed.

Keywords: coordination game, leadership emergence, chaos, self-organization, game theory, intersection