Formalized Dissent and Cognitive Complexity in Group Processes and Performance

Dan N. Stone, Marcos P. Sivitanides, Anne P. Magro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Research suggests that two methods of introducing dissent, the dialectic inquiry (DI) and devil's advocate (DA) methods, show promise for increasing the cognitive complexity of decision makers. We investigated the joint effects of formalized dissent and group cognitive complexity by manipulating the formalized dissent method (DI or DA) used by 25 interacting groups engaged in a complex, ill‐structured planning task. Participants were classified as either high or low cognitive complexity and assigned to stratified groups with members of homogeneous complexity. Results indicated that: (1) DA groups produced higher quality assumptions but took longer to generate plans than did DI groups, (2) high complexity groups generated more recommendations relative to low complexity groups, and (3) DA groups with low complexity members produced lower quality recommendations and participated less equally in decision making than did the other groups. We conclude by discussing the implications of the results for formalized dissent, cognitive complexity, and assessing managerial performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-261
Number of pages19
JournalDecision Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1994


  • Group Decision Processes
  • Human Information Processing
  • Planning and Control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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