When more of the same is better
Instituto de Física de São Carlos, Universidade de São Paulo - Caixa Postal 369, 13560-970 São Carlos, São Paulo, Brazil
Received: 3 January 2016
Accepted: 8 February 2016
Problem solving (e.g., drug design, traffic engineering, software development) by task forces represents a substantial portion of the economy of developed countries. Here we use an agent-based model of cooperative problem-solving systems to study the influence of diversity on the performance of a task force. We assume that agents cooperate by exchanging information on their partial success and use that information to imitate the more successful agent in the system —the model. The agents differ only in their propensities to copy the model. We find that, for easy tasks, the optimal organization is a homogeneous system composed of agents with the highest possible copy propensities. For difficult tasks, we find that diversity can prevent the system from being trapped in sub-optimal solutions. However, when the system size is adjusted to maximize the performance the homogeneous systems outperform the heterogeneous systems, i.e., for optimal performance, sameness should be preferred to diversity.
PACS: 89.75.Fb – Structures and organization in complex systems / 87.23.Ge – Dynamics of social systems / 89.65.Gh – Economics; econophysics, financial markets, business and management
© EPLA, 2016