Learning for win-win collaboration

Jiin Song Tsai, Cheryl S.F. Chi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents how people achieve win-win outcomes through learning via a sequence of episodes between two rival parties in an experimental study. The win-win outcomes include consequences of these episodes for both task accomplishment and for trust building. Shaped by structural conditions, an in-field learning process was tested in a classroom environment, encouraging students to practice the win-win strategy by resolving difficulties and disputes within and between small groups. In total, 64 students were divided in half and teamed up in groups of four for both experimental and control groups. Participants of the experimental group were asked to accomplish designated tasks in three episodes: (1) intragroup joint decision making to deal with a pending natural disaster; (2) negotiation between two groups to address intergroup competition; and (3) collaboration with a competitor group to achieve intergroup mutual gains through a proactive win-win strategy. The implementation of episodes is intended to explore two types of learning mechanisms: single-loop and double-loop learning models. The control group joined the experiment in the third episode. The specific goals for the experimental group to achieve are (1) in the first episode, to develop patterns of joint decision making; (2) in the second episode, to learn the consequences of zero-sum competition under the structural condition of the prisoner's dilemma; and (3) in the third episode, to perform collaborative action with the control group under the same condition. Our findings indicate (1) positive outcomes of group learning were generated through the experiment; (2) single-loop learning was repeated multiple times in the trap of the prisoner's dilemma; and (3) double-loop learning was driven by a realized need to escape the paradoxical trap and newfound understanding to achieve mutual gains. This study explores the role of learning in collaboration and sheds lights on the transformation process in which individuals' behavior is shaped towards win-win collaboration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4015013
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jul 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management

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