Two or more people acting interdependently to achieve a common objective.
The “strength” of the interaction depends on:
1. The nature of the common objective
2. The context in which it takes place
3. The temperament of the group members.
Kind of groups
Groups can be FORMAL or INFORMAL, the work of the Human Relations School.
FORMAL: In organizations, formal groups are intentionally formed to achieve an objective set by the organization itself.
INFORMAL: In organisations, informal groups emerge spontaneously and reflect the common interests of their members.
Groups are important in OB because they exert an important influence over the conduct of their members.
Role of Groups:
Through interaction with peers we acquire beliefs, attitudes, values, and characteristic behaviours
Hence who we associate with has a crucial impact on our sense of IDENTITY
Groups also create a social setting where we can exert influence on others
Disciplinary Effects of Groups
A group exercises a disciplinary effect on its members to ensure they behave in acceptable ways.
What is acceptable tends to reflect the values of the wider social setting from which the group’s members are drawn.
However, if a group becomes socially isolated it can lose its “moral compass”
A mode of thinking that people engage in when they deeply involved in a cohesive group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative course of action.
1. A feeling of invulnerability creates excessive optimism and encourages risk taking
2. Discounting warnings that might challenge assumptions
3. An unquestioned belief in the group’s morality, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions
4. Stereotyped views of outsiders (enemies).
5. Pressure to conform against members of the group who disagree
6. Shutting down of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus
7. An illusion of unanimity with regard to going along with the group
8. “Mindguards” — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting opinions.
Problems with Teams
The tendency to withhold physical and intellectual contributions/effort to a group, through unconscious decisions (non-intentional)
Social loafing tends to be unconscious but free-riding tends to conscious/deliberate
If this happens and others observe it then others feel less motivation to pull their weight
The Economic Problem of Free-Riding
Free-riding is taking advantage of others to reduce your effort without paying a financially penalty.
Can lead to a situation where everyone in the team decides that it’s not worth working at their full capacity.
The Economic Problem of Shirking
Shirking is subtly different: it can be considered as gaining a non-pecuniary benefit (a form of utility).
You may be exerting effort, but it is not directed toward your colleagues’ or your employer’s advantage (e.g., “surfing the web” at work, speeding up your work so you can go home early, etc.).
Combining the effects of groups with the risks of social loafing, free-riding and shirking, we can draw the following conclusion:
Much of the “maintenance” activities of teams are taken up with policing each other’s behaviour to ensure that loafing, free-riding, and shirking do not take place.
Punctuated Equilibrium Model
Founded by Gersick (1989) Group development takes place as a series of processes where group stability will change
Views group development as a two-phase process with a transition point midway.
Phase one: period of ‘inertia’ in which the group collaborates.
Slowest in terms of progress
But critical in setting a solid foundation for the group.
Midpoint transition takes place halfway through the allocated time.
Midpoint is a period of awareness triggered by an approaching deadline
Group will make