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NULab Co-Director David Lazer Receives 2020 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize

NULab co-director David Lazer, University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer Sciences, was recently awarded the 2020 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize from the editorial board of MIT Sloan Management Review. The editors selected “the most outstanding article on planned change and organizational development” from the issues they published in 2019. Lazer co-authored “Improving the Rhythm of Your Collaboration” with Ethan Bernstein, Edward W. Conard Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and Jesse Shore, Assistant Professor of Information Systems at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

The article recommends that in problem-solving teams using collaborative software, leaders should allow team members to alternate between the “heads-down focus” of individual work and the “always-on connectivity” of group work. While big data and artificial intelligence have produced technologies that can improve teamwork, too much connectivity makes it harder for human beings to process information and make effective decisions. Lazer, Bernstein, and Shore envision “rhythmic collaboration” as the effective balance of connection with ‘down time.’

In addition to receiving the Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize, Lazer was lead author in a newly published Science article, “Computational social science: Obstacles and opportunities.” Lazer and his expert co-authors survey the recent expansion of computational social science (CSS) in the academy and examine opportunities in CSS for new standards on “research ethics, pedagogy, and data infrastructure.”

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