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01-12-2021

Human–Algorithm Collaboration Works Best if Humans Lead (Because it is Fair!)

Journal:
Social Justice Research
Authors:
David De Cremer, Jack McGuire
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Abstract

Autonomous algorithms are increasingly being used by organizations to reach ever increasing heights of organizational efficiency. The emerging business model of today therefore appears to be one where autonomous algorithms are gradually expanding their occupation into becoming a leading decision-maker, and humans by default become increasingly more subordinate to such decisions. We address the question of whether this business perspective is consistent with the sort of collaboration employees want to have with algorithms at work. We explored this question by investigating in what way humans preferred to collaborate with algorithms when making decisions. Using two experimental studies (Study 1, n = 237; Study 2, n = 684), we show that humans consider the collaboration with autonomous algorithms as unfair when the algorithm leads decision-making and will even incur high financial costs in order to avoid this. Our results also show that humans do not want to exclude algorithms entirely but seem to prefer a 60–40% human–algorithm partnership. These findings contrast the position taken by today’s emerging business model on the issue of automated organizational decision-making. Our findings also provide support for the existence of an implicit theory—held by both present and future employees—that humans should lead and algorithms follow.

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