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Collectif flow : sociocognitive model of optimal collaboration

Abstract : With the increasing pressure to innovate, companies are led to find solutions how to increase the creativity of the teams working on innovation projects in a sustainable way. Research has shown that the flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975-2000), the optimal psychological experience of hyperfocused human functioning has benefits on subjective eudaemonic well-being as well as objective performance. However, the topic is poorly explored when it comes to flow experience in social settings. Therefore we decided to address the concept of collective flow. Funded by a French company SBT Human(s) Matter, this research project has also an applicative goal of gathering more knowledge about flow and team creativity in order to improve sustainable well-being and reach optimal collaboration for SBT's clients. We define collective flow as a state manifesting when a group acts as a whole. The members of the group are absorbed in the common activity, are coordinating efficiently and feel good together. Subsequently, we have built a sociocognitive model that conceptualizes collective flow as a process mainly relying on motivational and social identification processes, and triggered by specific preconditions such as team members' empathy, collective ambition and shared group identity. Six laboratory studies and few field tests allowed us to test our theoretical model and therefore test our hypotheses. The research was mainly conducted with French engineering students working on innovation projects. Results of the first study show that average level of Theory of Mind of group members does not predict neither the collective flow nor the creative output of the groups. This challenges previous findings related to collective intelligence of teams. However, analyses indicate that collective flow can be predicted by intrinsic motivation and social identification relative to group membership. Moreover, we have found that creativity of groups is predicted by individual flow experience. Results of the second, experimental study, which manipulated the level of action identification (high versus low) showed that high level action identification boosts social identification, intrinsic motivation, and flow of individual group members. Also, mediation analysis indicates that the effect of action identification on flow experience is mediated by social identification and intrinsic motivation. Third, experimental study testing the impact of social identity showed that, contrary to our expectations, the salience of social identity cues (wearing special T-shirts) neither impacts collective flow nor the creative output of the teams. Just like in the first study we found that intrinsic motivation and social identification are significant predictors of both individual and collective flow. However, collective flow did not seem to be predicted by the individual flow of group members. Finally, the fourth experimental study exploring flow experience in a Computer-Mediated Communication setting, relying on Social Identity model of Deindividuation Effects, tested online group creativity in anonymous, identified, synchronous and asynchronous virtual environment. Our results show that asynchronous mode of collaboration is not a flow-killer and that synchronous mode is not a flow booster. This means that individuals engaged in a collective task can indeed experience flow even when working remotely and asynchronously. Consistent in all four studies, our results show that flow in group settings is predicted by intrinsic motivation and social identification. Collective team ambition is also likely to considerably increase the experience of flow in team context. Lastly, our results concerning the impact of collective flow on creativity are less clear, indicating that in some cases the experience of individual flow boosts the creativity. However, this might be more complex and therefore provides a good reason to seek further refinement and better understanding.
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Milija Šimleša. Collectif flow : sociocognitive model of optimal collaboration. Psychology. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018USPCB203⟩. ⟨tel-02517606⟩

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