An Analytical Model of Collaboration Between Engineers Working on Team and on Individual Projects


Collaboration of engineers with diverse technical background such as those found in cross-functional teams has been addressed as a key for successful system development. Similarly, the benefit of team-based-project class is increasingly emphasized in curriculum development. In a team project, however, there is always a temptation for a team member to free-ride on other team members' efforts (i.e., receive the same credit without contributing to the project). This paper presents an analytical model in which two engineers work on a team project, as well as individually on separate projects. The engineers receive the same performance evaluation on their team project (whether they actually contribute to the project or not), but independent evaluations on their individual projects. This paper uses the model to identify conditions that discourage free-riding and encourage collaboration between two engineers. The results of the analysis and implications to team projects in industry and in curriculum are discussed. Copyright © 2008 by ASME.

Meeting Name

2008 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE 2008


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Collaboration; Prisoner's Dilemma

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2009 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2009