Latest Seminars

Separated by a common language: Code clashes and convergence in organizations

Members of an organization are better able to coordinate when they share communication codes—associations between stimuli and labels. Since groups develop their own unique codes, collaboration across groups is often difficult. The familiar complaints about “silos” and “the lack of a common language” arise from these differences, in a range of contexts. But differences in codes affect communication difficulties, and the ability to eventually develop a shared code, to different degrees. Using computational models, we develop a theory about differences in initial communication codes and how they affect convergence on a common code. Our results show that the difficulty of code convergence lies not only in learning new codes but also in unlearning existing ones. The most severe challenges to communication stem from code clashes that arise when individuals have developed their distinctive codes in different task environments but draw on a common set of labels. We also find that asymmetries in adaptability among the interacting parties—produced by differences in incentives, authority, power, or status—can be useful for producing rapid code convergence in such situations, but are harmful for other forms of code clashes.


Speaker :
Prof. Phanish Puranam, INSEAD
Venue :
via Zoom
Date :
Time :