Cognitive Challenges in Human–Artificial Intelligence Collaboration: Investigating the Path Toward Productive Delegation

Andreas Fügener, Jörn Grahl, Alok Gupta, Wolfgang Ketter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


We study how humans make decisions when they collaborate with an artificial intelligence (AI) in a setting where humans and the AI perform classification tasks. Our experimental results suggest that humans and AI who work together can outperform the AI that outperforms humans when it works on its own. However, the combined performance improves only when the AI delegates work to humans but not when humans delegate work to the AI. The AI’s delegation performance improved even when it delegated to low-performing subjects; by contrast, humans did not delegate well and did not benefit from delegation to the AI. This bad delegation performance cannot be explained with some kind of algorithm aversion. On the contrary, subjects acted rationally in an internally consistent manner by trying to follow a proven delegation strategy and appeared to appreciate the AI support. However, human performance suffered as a result of a lack of metaknowledge—that is, humans were not able to assess their own capabilities correctly, which in turn led to poor delegation decisions. Lacking metaknowledge, in contrast to reluctance to use AI, is an unconscious trait. It fundamentally limits how well human decision makers can collaborate with AI and other algorithms. The results have implications for the future of work, the design of human–AI collaborative environments, and education in the digital age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)678-696
Number of pages19
JournalInformation Systems Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge and appreciate the assistance of Fabian Lorson for helping to develop the initial research infrastructure for this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)


  • artificial intelligence
  • delegation
  • future of work
  • human–AI collaboration
  • machine learning
  • metaknowledge


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