My research at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI) examines how technological advances over the past century—most recently innovations in communications and computing—have transformed work, organizational practices, and social patterns.
My work on CCI’s CoLab platforms seeks to harness the collective intelligence of large numbers of people, from all around the world, to address big, complex problems. Among the challenges addressed have been:
- Making progress on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,
- The COVID-19 pandemic,
- The future of health care,
- Developing novel approaches to tackle climate change.
I have also worked on projects that have:
- Designed a supermind—a novel combination of people and computers—to address depression in Japan,
- Identified the underlying building blocks—the genes—of collective intelligence.
I came to MIT in the late 1990s to join the Initiative on Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century (21C), which examined how information technology was transforming business organizations and how those changes were reshaping employment arrangements.
I subsequently worked on project that examined the mechanisms by which information technology generates organizational benefits and how the structure of social networks affects the performance of work groups.
I’ve published articles based on my research in Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, Financial Times, Boston Globe, pbs.org, and many academic journals. I co-edited a collection of articles published by MIT Press, Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century (2003). My work has also been featured by National Public Radio and in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company.
While at MIT, I served as Executive Producer of Home Before Dark, named best American independent film at the 1997 Hamptons International Film Festival and recipient of critical acclaim in Variety, the New York Times, and Boston Globe.
I have an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in American Studies and earned a Master’s degree in modern history from Harvard, where I also completed doctoral coursework.
- Thomas Malone, Daniela Rus, and Robert Laubacher. Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work, MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future Research Brief, December 2020.
- Laubacher and Jonathan Star, Trust or Consequences 2040: Will innovations in health and medicine deliver? US Pharmacopeia, May 2020.
- Robert Laubacher, Gianni Giacomelli, Kathleen Kennedy, David Sun Kong, Annalyn Bachmann, Katharina Kramer, Paul Schlag, and Thomas W. Malone, Using a supermind to design a supermind: A case study of university researchers and corporate executives co-designing an innovative healthcare concept, MIT Sloan Working Paper, March 2020.
- Henner Gimpel, Valerie Graf-Drasch, Robert Laubacher, Moritz Wöhl, Facilitating like Darwin: Supporting cross-fertilisation in crowdsourcing, Decision Support Systems, March 2020.
Selected Prior Publications
- Thomas W. Malone, Jeffrey V. Nickerson, Robert Laubacher, Laur Hesse Fisher, Patrick de Boer, Yue Han, and W. Ben Towne, Putting the Pieces Back Together Again: Contest Webs for Large-Scale Problem Solving, Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW), March 2017.
- Robert Laubacher, Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital in the Age of Collective Intelligence, in Chance and Intent: Managing the Risks of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, edited by David L. Bodde and Caron H. St. John, New York: Routledge, 2012.
- Thomas W. Malone, Robert Laubacher, and Tammy Johns. The Age of Hyperspecialization. Harvard Business Review, July-August 2011.
- Thomas W. Malone, Robert Laubacher, Chrysanthos Dellarocas. The Collective Intelligence Genome. Sloan Management Review, Spring 2010.
- Robert Laubacher, S. P. Kothari, Thomas W. Malone and S.P. Kothari. What is RFID Worth to Your Company? Measuring Performance at the Activity Level. MIT Center for Coordination Science Working Paper, 2005.
- Thomas W. Malone, Robert Laubacher, Michael S. Scott Morton, eds. Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century. MIT Press, 2003.
- Robert Laubacher and Thomas Malone. Retreat of the Firm and the Rise of Guilds: The Employment Relationship in an Age of Virtual Business, chapter 16 in Malone, Laubacher, and Scott Morton, eds. Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century. MIT Press, 2003.
- Thomas Malone and Robert Laubacher. The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy. Harvard Business Review, Sept-Oct 1998.
- Laur Fisher, Robert Laubacher, and Thomas Malone. How Millions of People Can Help Solve Climate Change. Nova Next, pbs.org, January 2014.
- Robert Laubacher, Can the College premium withstand hyperspecialization? Harvard Business Review, August 2011.
- Thomas Malone and Robert Laubacher. Viewpoint: The Rebirth of the Guild. Boston Globe, August 24, 2000.
- Thomas Malone and Robert Laubacher. All change for the e-lance economy. Financial Times, March 1, 1999.
Interviews and Press Mentions
- SEI, Q&A: How collective intelligence can contribute to the SDGs, March 9, 2021
- Jilian Mincer, Instead of Offshore, Call Centers Start to Move to U.S. Kitchens, Wall Street Journal, November 2005.
- Jill Rosenfeld. Free Agents in the Olde World. Fast Company, May 2001.
- David Molpus. E-Work. All Things Considered, National Public Radio, August 2000.
- Don Clark, Start-Up Web Sites Help Find Free-Lancers Jobs on the Web, Wall Street Journal, May 2000.
MIT Sloan School of Management
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