I. What Is a Group?
A group consists of two or more people interacting interdependently to achieve a
common goal. Interaction is the most basic aspect of a group as it suggests who is in the
group and who is not. Groups exert tremendous influence on us. They are social
mechanisms by which we acquire many beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviours.
Formal work groups are established by organizations to facilitate the achievement of
organizational goals. The most common formal group consists of a manager and those
employees who report to that manager.
Informal groups are groups that emerge naturally in response to the common interests of
organizational members. Informal groups can either help or hurt an organization,
depending on their norms for behaviour.
II. Group Development
While employees often know each other before new groups are formed, simple
familiarity does not replace the necessity for team development.
A. Typical Stages of Group Development
Leaders and trainers have observed that many groups develop through a series of stages
over time. Each stage presents the members with a series of challenges they must master
in order to achieve the next stage. These stages are forming, storming, norming,
performing, and adjourning.
Forming. Group members try to orient themselves by “testing the waters”.
Storming. Confrontation and criticism occur as members determine whether they will go
along with the way the group is developing.
Norming. Members resolve the issues that provoked the storming, and they develop
Performing. The group devotes its energies toward task accomplishment.
Adjourning. Rites and rituals that affirm the group’s previous successful development are
common. Members often exhibit emotional support for each other.
B. Punctuated Equilibrium
When groups have a specific deadline by which to complete some problem-solving task,
we often observe a very different development sequence from that described above. Thepunctuated equilibrium model is a model of group development that describes how
groups with deadlines are affected by their first meetings and crucial midpoint transitions.
Phase 1. Phase 1 begins with the first meeting and continues until the midpoint in the
group’s existence. Although it gathers information and holds meetings, the group makes
little visible progress toward the goal.
Midpoint Transition. The midpoint transition occurs at almost exactly the halfway point
in time toward the group’s deadline. The transition marks a change in the group’s
approach, and how the group manages it is critical for the group to show progress.
Phase 2. Decisions and approaches adopted at the midpoint get played out in Phase 2. It
concludes with a final meeting that reveals a burst of activity and a concern for how
outsiders will evaluate the product.
III. Group Structure and Its Consequences
Group structure refers to the characteristics of the stable social organization of a group,
the way a group is “put together.” The most basic structural characteristics along which
groups vary are size and member diversity.
A. Group Size
Although the smallest possible group would consist of two people, most work groups,
including task forces and committees usually have between three and twenty members.
Size and Satisfaction. In general, members of larger groups report less satisfaction with
group membership than those who find themselves in smaller groups. Increased potential
for conflict, reduced opportunity for participation, inhibition, and inability to identify
contributions to the group are among the reasons for this phenomenon.
Size and Performance. Different types of tasks are performed by groups where
performance could depend upon the type of task and the number of individuals involved.
For some tasks, like moving a heavy rock, the potential performance of the group
increases with group size. These are additive tasks in which group performance is
dependent on the sum of the performance of individual group members.
Other tasks, like searching for a single error in a complicated computer program, also
may show performance gains as group size increases, but that is because the chance of
including a crucial problem solver is greater.
Disjunctive tasks are tasks in which performance is dependent on the performance of the
best group member.
However, as groups get larger, performance may also decrease as a function of process
losses. Process losses are group performance difficulties stemming from the problems of motivating and coordinating larger groups. Thus, actual performance = potential
performance – process losses. Finally, group performance on conjunctive tasks, like
assembly line work, decreases as group size increases. Conjunctive tasks are tasks in
which group performance is limited by the performance of the poorest group member.
B. Diversity of Group Membership
Research suggests that heterogeneous or diverse groups have a more difficult time
communicating and becoming cohesive, so group development takes longer. Once
developed, diversity has little impact on performance and sometimes performance is
better on tasks that require creativity and problem solving.
C. Group Norms
Social norms are collective expectations that members of social units have regarding the
behaviour of each other. They are codes of conduct that specify what individuals should
do and not do and standards against which we evaluate the appropriateness of behaviour.
All of us are influenced by norms which regulate many of our daily activities.
Norm Development. Norms develop to provide regularity and predictability to behaviour.
They develop to regulate behaviours that are considered at least marginally important.
Individuals comply with these norms because the norms often correspond to privately
Some Typical Norms. There are different types of norms in organizations which affect
the behaviour of members. Norms that seem to crop up in most organizations and affect
the behaviour of members include the following:
• Dress norms. Social norms frequently dictate the kind of clothing people wear to
• Reward allocation norms. There are at least four norms that might dictate how
rewards, such as pay, promotions, and informal favours, could be allocated in
organizations: equity, equality, reciprocity, and social responsibility.
• Performance norms. The performance of organizational members might be as
much a function of social expectations as it is of inherent ability, personal
motivation, or technology.
Roles are positions in a group that have a set of expected behaviours attached to them.
Roles represent “packages” of norms that apply to particular group members. In
organizations, there are two basic kinds of roles. First, there are designated or assigned
roles that are formally prescribed by an organization to facilitate task achievement.
Assigned roles indicate "who does what." and "who can tell others what to do." In
addition, there are also emergent roles which are roles that develop naturally to meet the
social-emotional needs of group members or to assist in formal job accomplishment. Role Ambiguity. Role ambiguity exists when the goals of one's job or the methods of
performing it are unclear. Ambiguity might be characterized by confusion about how
performance is evaluated, how good performance can be achieved, or what the limits of
one’s authority and responsibility are. A variety of elements can lead to ambiguity.
• Organizational factors. Some roles seem inherently ambiguous because of their
function in the organization.
• The role sender. Role senders might have unclear expectations of a focal person.
• The focal person. Even role expectations that are clearly developed and sent
might not be fully digested by the focal person.
The practical consequences of role ambiguity include job stress, dissatisfaction, reduced
organizational commitment, and intentions to quit. Managers can reduce role ambiguity
by providing clear performance expectations and performance feedback.
Role Conflict. Role conflict exists when an individual is faced with incompatible role
expectations. There are several different types of role conflict.
• Intrasender role conflict occurs when a single role sender provides incompatible
role expectations to a role occupant.
• Intersender role conflict occurs when two or more role senders provide a role
occupant with incompatible expectations.
• Interrole conflict occurs when several roles held by a role occupant involve
• Person-role conflict occurs when role demands call for behaviour that is
incompatible with the personality or skills of the role occupant.
The most consistent consequences of role conflict are job dissatisfaction, stress reactions,
lowered organizational commitment, and turnover intentions. Managers can help prevent
role conflict by avoiding self-contradictory messages, conferring with other role senders,
being sensitive to multiple role demands, and fitting the right person to the right role.
Status is the rank, social position, or prestige accorded to group members. It represents
the group’s evaluation of a member. Organizations have both formal and informal status
Formal Status Systems. The formal status system represents management’s attempt to
publicly identify those people who have higher status than others. This is accomplished
by the application of status symbols. Status symbols are tangible indicators of status.
Status symbols might include titles, particular working relationships, the pay package, the
work schedule, and the physical working environment. The criteria for achieving formal
organizational status includes seniority in one’s work group and one’s assigned role in
the organization. Informal Status Systems. Informal status symbols also exist in organizations and can
operate just as effectively. Sometimes, job performance is a basis for the acquisition of
informal status. So a good hitter or a good performer will be accorded status, although
status symbols might be lacking.
Consequences of Status Differences. Status affects the ways in which people
communicate with each other. Most people like to communicate with others at their own
status or higher, rather than with people who are below them. As a result, communication
is likely to move up the status hierarchy in organizations. As well, higher status people do
more talking and have more influence.
Reducing Status Barriers. Although status differences can be powerful motivators, status
differences also tend to inhibit the free flow of communication in organizations and can
make it more difficult to foster a culture of teamwork and cooperation. As a result, many
organizations are doing away with status symbols such as executive dining rooms, and
reserved parking in an attempt to foster a culture of teamwork and cooperation across the
ranks. The use of e-mail has also been found to level status barriers, thus facilitating
communication between people at all levels of the organization.
IV. Group Cohesiveness
Group cohesiveness is a critical property of groups. Cohesive groups are those that are
especially attractive to their members. Members are especially desirous of staying in the
group and tend to describe the group in favourable terms.
A. Factors Influencing Cohesiveness
There are several important factors which might make one group more cohesive than
Threat and Competition. External threat and competition can force members to work
together when group goals are in danger. External threats to survive have often resulted
in greater cohesiveness.
Success. When a group accomplishes a goal, members feel pride and tend to become
more cooperative with each other as the group becomes more attractive to its members.
Member Diversity. Task accomplishment will be a more important factor than member
similarities in determining cohesiveness.
Size. Larger groups have a more difficult time in becoming and staying cohesive.
Toughness of Initiation. Groups that are tough to get into are more attractive than those
that are easy to join.
B. Consequences of Cohesiveness There are a number of consequences of group cohesiveness.
More Participation in Group Activities. Because cohesive groups are attractive to their
members, they should be especially motivated to participate in group activities.
More Conformity. Because they are so attractive and coordinated, cohesive groups are
well equipped to supply information, rewards, and punishment to individuals. Thus,
highly cohesive groups are in a superb position to induce conformity to group norms.
More Success. Cohesiveness contributes to group success. In general, cohesive groups
are good at achieving their goals. That is, cohesive groups tend to be successful in
accomplishing what they wish to accomplish. In a good labour relations climate, group
cohesiveness should foster high productivity. In a climate marked by tension and
disagreement, cohesive groups might pursue goals that result in low productivity. Thus,
cohesive groups tend to produce more or less than non-cohesive groups. In addition, there
is less variability in the productivity of members of cohesive groups.
V. Social Loafing
Social loafing is the tendency to withhold physical or intellectual effort when performing
a group task. It is one of the reasons for process losses in large groups and takes two
forms. In the free rider effect, people lower their effort to get a free ride at the expense of
other group members. This is the phenomenon of others not pulling their weight on a
group project. In the sucker effect, people lower their effort because of the feeling that
others are free riding. That is, they are trying to restore equity in the group.
There are a number of ways to counteract social loafing.
• Make individual performance more visible. The simplest way to do this is to keep
the group small.
• Make sure that the work is interesting. If the work is involving, intrinsic
motivation should counteract social loafing.
• Increase feelings of indispensability. Training and the status system can provide
group members with unique inputs.
• Increase performance feedback. Increased feedback from the boss, peers, and
customers should encourage self-correction.
• Reward group performance. Members are more likely to monitor and maximize
their own performance when the group receives rewards for effectiveness.
VI. What Is a Team?
Some writers have suggested that a “team” is different from a “group” because in a team
a synergy develops such that the group’s efforts are greater than the sum of its parts.
However, the term “team” is more generally used to describe “groups” in organizational
settings and the terms can be used interchangeably. Many organizations now use team- based work arrangements in an attempt to improve efficiency, quality, customer
satisfaction, innovation, and/or the speed of production.
VII. Designing Effective Work Teams
According to J. Richard Hackman, a work group is effective when (1) its physical or
intellectual output is acceptable to management and to the other parts of the organization
that use this output, (2) group members’ needs are satisfied rather than frustrated by the
group, and (3) the group experience enables members to continue to work together.
Group effectiveness occurs when high effort is directed toward the group’s task, when
great knowledge and skill are directed toward the task, and when the group adopts
sensible strategies for accomplishing its goals.
A. Self-Managed Work Teams
Self-managed work teams are work groups that have the opportunity to do challenging
work under reduced supervision. The general idea is that the group regulates much of its
own members’ behaviour. Critical to the success of self-managed teams are the nature of
the task, the composition of the group, and various support mechanisms.
Tasks for Self-Managed Teams. Tasks for self-managed teams should be complex and
challenging and require high interdependence among team members for task
accomplishment. Group members adopt roles that will make the group effective, not ones
that are simply related to a narrow specialty.
Composition of Self-Managed Teams. A fast answer to how organizations should design
effective self-managed teams is that they should be stable, small and smart. The
composition of self-managed teams needs to consider a number of factors.
• Stability. Self-managed teams require considerable interaction and high
cohesiveness among their members. To achieve this, group membership must be
• Size. The team should be as small as is feasible. The goal is to keep coordination
problems and social loafing to a minimum.
• Expertise. Team members should have a high level of expertise about the task at
hand. The group as a whole should be very knowledgeable about the task. All
members should possess some degree of social skills.
• Diversity. The team should have members who are similar enough to work well
together with enough diversity to bring a variety of perspectives and skills to the
Supporting Self-Managed Teams. A number of support factors can assist self-managed
teams in becoming and staying effective. • Training. To insure the effectiveness of self-managed teams, organizations need
to provide extensive training in areas such as technical skills, social skills,
language skills, and business training.
• Rewards. The general rule here is to try to tie rewards to team accomplishment
rather than to individual accomplishment while still providing team members with
some individual performance feedback.
• Management. The most effective managers in a self-management environment
encourage groups to observe, evaluate, and reinforce their own task behaviour.
Research has found that the task characteristics are related to group effectiveness. In
terms of group composition, teams perceived as too large for their tasks were rated as less
effective than teams perceived as an appropriate size or too small. Managerial support
and group processes have been found to be the best predictors of group effectiveness.
Overall, research has shown improvements in team productivity, quality, customer
satisfaction, and safety following the implementation of self-managed work teams.
B. Cross-Functional Teams
Another kind of team that contemporary organizations are using with increasing
frequency is the cross-functional team. Cross-functional teams bring people with
different functional specialties together to better invent, design, or deliver a product or
service. The general goals of cross-functional teams include some combination of
innovation, speed, and quality that come from early coordination among the various
Principles for Effectiveness. Research has discovered a number of factors that contribute
to the effectiveness of cross-functional teams.
• Composition. All relevant specialties must be part of the team, including labour
representatives or suppliers where appropriate.
• Superordinate goals. Conflict may sometimes arise from the colliding cultures of
different functions. Superordinate goals are attractive outcomes that can only be
achieved by collaboration. They help to override potential functional level
• Physical proximity. Team members must be located close to one another to
facilitate informal contact.
• Autonomy. Cross-functional teams need some autonomy from the larger
organization, and functional specialties need some authority to commit their
function to project decisions.
• Rules and procedures. Some basic decision procedures must be laid down to
• Leadership. Because of the potential for conflict, cross-functional team leaders
need especially strong people skills in addition to task expertise.
C. Virtual Teams Virtual teams are work groups that use technology to communicate and collaborate
across time, space, and organizational boundaries. Along with their reliance on computer
and electronic technology, the primary feature of these teams is the lack of face-to-face
contact between team members due to geographic dispersion.
Advantages of Virtual Teams. Virtual teams have a number of advantages.
• Around-the-clock work. Globally, using a virtual team can create a 24-hour team
that never sleeps.
• Reduced travel time and cost. Virtual teaming reduces travel costs associated with
• Larger talent pool. Virtual teams allow companies to expand their potential labour
markets and to go after the best people, even if they have no interest in relocating.
Challenges of Virtual Teams. Virtual teams also face several challenges.
• Miscommunication. The loss of face-to-face communication presents certain risks
for virtual teams.
• Trust. Trust is difficult to develop between virtual team members.
• Isolation. The lack of casual interactions with co-workers can lead to team
members having feelings of isolation and detachment.
• High costs. Savings in areas such as travel must be weighed against the costs of
cutting-edge technology. Initial set-up costs can be substantial.
• Management issues. For managers, virtual teams create new challenges in terms
of dealing with employees who are no longer in view.
A study of 65 virtual teams at Sabre Inc., concluded that trust was still possible through
team member responsiveness, consistency, and reliability. Training and team building
exercises were also found to be helpful to build trust and clarify communication
standards. Virtual communication reduced instances of stereotyping, discrimination,
personality conflicts, and the formation of cliques.
Lessons Concerning Virtual Teams. A number of lessons are beginning to emerge about
what managers must do or keep watch for when developing virtual teams.
• Recruitment. Choose team members carefully in terms of attitude and personality.
Find people with good interpersonal skills, not just technical skills.
• Training. Invest in training for both technical and interpersonal skills.
• Personalization. Encourage team members to get to know each other, either
through informal communication using technology or by arranging face-to-face
• Goals and ground rules. Virtual team leaders should define goals clearly, set rules
for communication standards and responses, and provide feedback to keep team
members informed of progress and the big picture.
VIII. A Word of Caution: Teams as a Panacea Switching from a traditional structure to a team-based configuration is not a cure-all for
an organization’s problems. Many organizations have rushed to deploy teams with little
planning, often resulting in confusion and contradictory signals to employees. Good
planning and continuing support are necessary for the effective use of teams.
I. Social Influence in Organizations
People often feel or act differently from how they would as independent operators as a
result of social influence. This is because in many social settings, and especially in
groups, people are highly dependent on others. This dependence sets the stage for
influence to occur.
A. Information Dependence and Effect Dependence
All of us need information from others and we are frequently highly dependent on others
for information about the adequacy and appropriateness of our behaviour, thoughts, and
feelings. Information dependence refers to our reliance on others for information about
how to think, feel, and act. It gives others the opportunity to influence our thoughts,
feelings, and actions via the signals they send to us.
Individuals are also dependent on the effects of their behaviour as determined by the
rewards and punishments provided by others. This effect dependence is the reliance on
others due to their capacity to provide rewards and punishment. It occurs because the
group has a vested interest in how individual members think and act, and the member
desires the approval of the group.
II. Social Influence in Action
One of the most obvious consequences of information and effect dependence is the
tendency for group members to conform to the social norms that have been established by
A. Motives for Social Conformity
Conformity is the tendency for group members to conform to the norms that have been
established by the group. There are a number of different motives for conformity.
Compliance. Members might conform because of compliance which is the simplest,
most direct motive for conformity to group norms. It occurs because a member wishes to
acquire rewards from the group and avoid punishment. As such, it primarily involves
Identification. Some individuals conform because they find other supporters of the norm
attractive. In this case, the individual identifies with these supporters and sees himself or herself as similar to them. Identification as a motive for conformity is often revealed by
an imitation process in which established members serve as models for the behaviour of
Internalization. Some conformity to norms occurs because individuals have truly and
wholly accepted the beliefs, values, and attitudes that underlie the
norm. Internalization occurs when individuals have truly and wholly accepted the
beliefs, values, and attitudes that underlie the norm.
B. The Subtle Power of Compliance
In some cases, individuals conform to norms which they do not support. Much of this
occurs because of social pressures and the desire to please others. But compliance often
sets the stage for the more complete involvement with organizational norms and roles
implicit in the stages of identification and internalization.
III. Organizational Socialization
Socialization is the process by which people learn the norms and roles that are necessary
to function in a group or organization. Socialization methods (realistic job previews,
employee orientation programs, socialization tactics, mentoring, proactive tactics)
influence immediate or proximal socialization outcomes such as learning, task mastery,
social integration, role conflict, role ambiguity, and person–job and person–organization
fit. Proximal outcomes lead to distal or longer-term outcomes such as job satisfaction,
organizational commitment, organizational identification, organizational citizenship
behaviour, job performance, stress, and turnover.
An important goal of socialization is to help newcomers assimilate and fit into the
organization. Person-job fit refers to the match between an employee’s knowledge,
skills, and abilities and the requirements of a job. Person-organization fit refers to the
match between an employee’s personal values and the values of an organization.
Research has found that both P-J and P-O fit are strongly related to the work adjustment
of new hires.
Socialization is an ongoing process by virtue of continuous interaction with others in the
workplace. However, socialization is most potent during periods of membership
transition, such as when one joins a new organization.
A. Stages of Socialization
Since organizational socialization is an ongoing process, it is useful to divide this process
into three stages. One of these stages occurs before entry, another immediately follows
entry, and the last occurs after one has been a member for some period of time. Anticipatory Socialization. A considerable amount of socialization occurs even before a
person joins an organization. This process is called anticipatory socialization. However,
not all anticipatory socialization is accurate and useful for the new member.
Encounter. In the encounter stage, the new recruit encounters the day-to-day reality of
organizational life. At this stage, the organization and its experienced members are
looking for an acceptable degree of conformity to organizational norms and the gradual
acquisition of appropriate role behaviour. Recruits are interested in having their personal
needs and expectations fulfilled.
Role Management. Having survived the encounter stage and acquired basic role
behaviours, the member's attention shifts to fine-tuning and actively managing his or her
role in the organization. This stage is referred to as role management. The role occupants
might now begin to internalize the norms and values that are prominent in the
B. Unrealistic Expectations and the Psychological Contract
People join organizations with expectations about what membership will be like and what
they expect to receive in return for their efforts. Unfortunately, these expectations are
often unrealistic and obligations between new members and organizations are often
Unrealistic Expectations. Although people have expectations about their jobs in
organizations, many such expectations held by entering members are inaccurate and often
unrealistically high. At times, the media is responsible. At other times corporate
recruiters paint rosy pictures in order to attract job candidates to the organization.
Psychological Contract. When people join organizations, they also have ideas about what
they expect to receive from the organization and what they plan to give the organization
in return. Such perceptions form what is known as the psychological contract and refers
to beliefs held by employees concerning their reciprocal obligations between them and
their organization. Unfortunately, psychological contract breach appears to be a common
occurrence in organizations. Perceptions of psychological contract breach occur when an
employee perceives that his or her organization has failed to fulfill one or more promised
obligations of the psychological contract. This often results in feelings of anger and
betrayal and can have a negative effect on employees’ work attitudes and behaviour.
IV. Methods of Socialization
Organizations differ in the extent to which they make use of other organizations to help
socialize their members. The strategy of reliance on external agents is often used by
organizations to help socialize their members. Thus, hospitals rely on medical schools to
socialize doctors, while business firms rely on business schools to send them recruits who
think and act in a business-like manner. On the other hand, organizations such as police
forces, the military, and religious institutions are less likely to rely on external socializers. Organizations that handle their own socialization are especially interested in maintaining
the continuity and stability of job behaviours over a period of time. Thus, organizations
differ in terms of who does the socializing, how it is done, and how much is done.
A. Realistic Job Previews
Realistic job previews provide a balanced, realistic picture of the positive and negative
aspects of the job to job applicants. When used properly, these previews can reduce
unrealistic expectations on the part of new organizational members, reduce turnover, and
improve job performance.
B. Employee Orientation Programs
Employee orientation programs are designed to introduce new employees to their job, the
people they will be working with, and the organization. The main content of most
orientation programs consists of health and safety issues, terms and conditions of
employment, and information about the organization, such as its history and traditions.
Another purpose of new employee orientation programs is to convey and form the
psychological contract, and to teach newcomers how to cope with stressful work
situations. Orientation programs can have a lasting effect on the job attitudes and
behaviours of new hires and they can also lower turnover.
C. Socialization Tactics
Socialization tactics refer to the manner in which organizations structure the early work
experiences of new members. There are six socialization tactics that vary on a bipolar
continuum and include:
Collective versus Individual Tactics. A number of new members are socialized as a
group, going through the same experiences and facing the same challenges.
Formal versus Informal Tactics. Formal tactics involve segregating newcomers from
regular organizational members and providing them with formal learning experiences
during the period of socialization.
Sequential versus Random Tactics. The sequential tactic involves a fixed sequence of
steps leading to the assumption of the role, compared with the random tactic in which
there is an ambiguous or changing sequence.
Fixed versus Variable Tactics. Fixed socialization consists of a timetable for the
assumption of the role.
Serial versus Disjunctive Tactics. The serial tactic refers to a process where newcomers
are socialized by experienced members of the organization. Investiture versus Divestiture Tactics. Divestiture tactics refer to what is also known as
debasement and hazing. Organizations put new members through a series of experiences
that are designed to humble them and strip away some of their initial self-confidence.
Institutionalized versus Individualized Socialization. The six socialization tactics can be
grouped into two separate patterns of socialization. Institutionalized socialization consists
of collective, formal, sequential, fixed, serial, and investiture tactics. Individualized
socialization consists of individual, informal, random, variable, disjunctive, and
divestiture tactics. Institutionalized socialization reflects a more structured program of
socialization and reduces newcomers’ feelings of uncertainty. Individualized
socialization reflects a relative absence of structure and so the early work experiences of
newcomers are somewhat uncertain. The tactics can also been distinguished in terms of
the context in which information is presented to new hires, the content provided to new
hires, and the social aspects of socialization.
Institutionalized socialization tactics are effective in promoting organizational loyalty,
esprit de corps, and uniformity of behaviour among those being socialized. When
socialization is individualized, new members are more likely to take on the particular
characteristics and style of their socializers. Therefore, uniformity is less likely under
Research Evidence. Institutionalized socialization tactics have been found to be related to
proximal outcomes, such as lower role ambiguity and conflict and more positive
perceptions of P–J and P–O fit, as well as more distal outcomes, such as more positive
job satisfaction and organizational commitment and lower stress and turnover. In
addition, the institutionalized socialization tactics result in a more custodial role
orientation in which new hires accept the status quo and the requirements of their tasks
and roles. The social tactics (serial-disjunctive and investiture-divestiture) have been
found to be the most strongly related to socialization outcomes.
A mentor is an experienced or more senior person in the organization who gives a junior
person special attention, such as giving advice and creating opportunities to assist them
during the early stages of his or her career. To be effective, mentors must perform career
and psychosocial functions.
Career Functions of Mentoring. A mentor provides a number of career enhancing
benefits. The career functions of mentoring include:
• Sponsorship. The mentor might nominate the apprentice for advantageous
transfers and promotions.
• Exposure and visibility. The mentor might provide opportunities to work with key
people and see other parts of the organization.
• Coaching and feedback. The mentor might suggest work strategies and identify
strengths and weaknesses in the apprentice’s performance. • Developmental assignments. Challenging work assignments a mentor can provide
will help develop key skills and knowledge that are crucial to career progress.
Psychosocial Functions of Mentoring. Mentors can also provide certain psychosocial
functions that are helpful in developing the apprentice's self-confidence, sense of identity,
and ability to cope with emotional traumas that can damage a person’s effectiveness.
• Role-modeling. This provides a set of attitudes, values, and behaviours for the
junior person to imitate.
• Acceptance and confirmation. The mentor can also provide encouragement and
support and help the apprentice gain self-confidence.
• Counseling. This provides an opportunity to discuss personal concerns and
anxieties concerning career prospects, work-family conflicts, and so on.
Research Evidence. Mentored individuals have been found to have higher objective
career outcomes (compensation and the number of promotions), as well as higher
subjective outcomes (greater satisfaction with one’s job and career and greater career
commitment), and they were more likely to believe that they will advance in their career.
Mentoring tends to be more strongly related to subjective than the objective career
outcomes. The psychosocial function is more strongly related to satisfaction with the
mentoring relationship while the career function is more strongly related to compensation
and advancement. Both functions are just as important in generating positive attitudes
toward one’s job and career.
Formal Mentoring Programs. Formal mentoring programs have been found to be just as
beneficial as informal relationships. Formal mentoring programs are most effective when
the mentor and protégé have input into the matching process and when they receive
training prior to the mentoring relationship, especially training that is perceived to be of a
Women and Mentors. Women face a particular problem when dealing with mentors. As
women in executive positions remain in relative short supply, there are fewer female role
models and most possible mentors are men. Men are often less helpful as mentors in such
relationships as they have little experience with women in roles other than wife, mother,
or daughter. Mixed gender mentoring relationships can also be undermined by rumors of
sexual behaviour and research demonstrates that the often important informal after-work
social activities that normally build such relationships are much less in evidence for that
reason. Because of these concerns, the prospective female apprentice faces more
constraints than her male counterpart. This is problematic given that mentoring is even
more critical to women’s career success then it is to men’s.
Race, Ethnicity, and Mentoring. Limited racial and ethnic diversity at the top of
organizations similarly constrains the mentoring opportunities available to younger
minority group employees. Minority apprentices in cross-ethnic group mentoring
relationships tend to report less assistance compared with those with same-race mentors. Such relationships tend to focus more on the career functions of mentoring and provide
less psychosocial support functions than in same-race dyads.
E. Proactive Socialization: What Newcomers Can Do To Socialize Themselves
Proactive socialization refers to the process in which newcomers play an active role in
their own socialization through the use of a number of proactive socialization tactics. One
of the most important tactics that newcomers can employ is to request feedback and seek
information. Other proactive tactics include socializing, networking, building
relationships with co-workers and members of the organization, negotiating job changes,
career planning, and finding a mentor. These tactics have been found to have a positive
influence on newcomers’ socialization. However, newcomers rely primarily on
observation followed by interpersonal sources. Supervisors are the information source
most strongly related to positive socialization outcomes.
One of the primary goals of organizational socialization is for individuals to define
themselves in terms of the organization and what it is perceived to represent. This is
known asorganizational identification and reflects an individual’s learning and
acceptance of an organization’s culture. It is positively related to work attitudes,
intentions, and behaviours.
V. Organizational Culture
To a large degree, the course of socialization both depends on and shapes the culture of
A. What is Organizational Culture?
Organizational culture consists of the shared beliefs, values, and assumptions that exist
in an organization. These beliefs, values, and assumptions determine the norms that
develop and the patterns of behaviour that emerge from these norms. The term "shared"
means that all members have had uniform exposure to these elements and have some
minimum common understanding of them. Organizational members often take the
influence of culture for granted. Culture tends to be stable, providing social continuity
and may influence behaviours both inside and outside the organization. Culture has a
strong impact on both organizational performance and member satisfaction.
Subcultures are smaller cultures that develop within a larger organizational culture that
reflect departmental differences in training, occupation, or departmental goals.
B. The "Strong Culture" Concept
In a strong culture, the beliefs, values and assumptions that make up the culture are both
intense and pervasive across the organization. The majority of the firm's members
support the culture which provides great consensus concerning what the organization is
about and what it stands for. In weak cultures, the beliefs, values, and assumptions are less strongly ingrained and/or less widely shared across the organization. Thus, they are
fragmented and have less impact on organizational members.
C. Assets of Strong Cultures
Organizations with strong cultures have several potential advantages.
Coordination. The overarching values and assumptions facilitate the coordination of
different parts of the organization and communication.
Conflict Resolution. Sharing core values can also facilitate conflict resolution.
Financial Success. Strong cultures contribute to financial success and other indicators of
organizational effectiveness when the culture supports the mission, strategy and goals of
D. Liabilities of Strong Cultures
Strong cultures can also be a liability under some circumstances.
Resistance to Change. The same strong consensus about common values and appropriate
behaviour that gives an organization a strong culture can also make it resistant to change.
This means that a strong culture can damage a firm’s ability to innovate.
Culture Clash. Strong cultures pushed together in a joint venture or merger can result in a
Pathology. Some cultures are based on beliefs, values, and assumptions that support a
pathology of infighting, secrecy, and paranoia that leaves little time to do business. Such
cultures can threaten organizational effectiveness.
E. Contributors to the Culture
Two key factors that contribute to the foundation and continuation of organizational
cultures are the founder’s role and socialization.
The Founder’s Role. Many strong cultures reflect the values of an organization’s founder.
Walt Disney of the Disney Company, Sam Walton of Wal-Mart, Ray Kroc of
McDonald's, T. J. Watson of IBM, Frank Stronach of Magna International, and Bill Gates
of Microsoft are all examples of the imprint of founders on a company's culture. Such
imprint is often kept alive through a series of stories about the founder passed on to
successive generations of new employees. This provides continuing reinforcements of the
firm’s core values.
Socialization. The precise nature of the socialization process is a key to the culture that
emerges in an organization because socialization is the means by which the culture's beliefs, values, and assumptions are learned. Research shows that organizations with
strong cultures expose employees to a careful step-by-step socialization process:
• Step 1 - Selecting Employees. New employees are carefully selected to obtain
those who will be able to adapt to the existing culture.
• Step 2 - Debasement and Hazing. Debasement and hazing provoke humility in
new hires so that they are open to the norms of the organization.
• Step 3 - Training “in the Trenches.” Training begins “in the trenches” so that
employees begin to master one of the core areas of the organization.
• Step 4 - Reward and Promotion. The reward and promotion system is carefully
used to reinforce those employees who perform well in areas that support the
goals of the organization.
• Step 5 - Exposure to Core Culture. Again and again, the culture’s core beliefs,
values, and assumptions are asserted to provide guidance for member behaviour.
• Step 6 - Organizational Folklore. Members are exposed to folklore about the
organization, stories that reinforce the nature of the culture.
• Step 7 - Role Models. Identifying people as “fast trackers” provides new members
with role models whose actions and views are consistent with the culture.
What is most important about this process is the consistency among these steps and their
mutually reinforcing properties that make for a strong culture.
E. Diagnosing a Culture
One way of learning about a culture is to examine the symbols, rituals, and stones that
characterize the organization's way of life. For insiders, these symbols, rituals, and stories
are mechanisms that teach and reinforce the culture.
Symbols. Symbols such as a corporate motto or mascot provide common meaning and
reinforce cultural values and what the company considers important.
Rituals. Rituals and ceremonies such as parties and gatherings are expressive events that
define and build the culture. They send a cultural message and convey the essence of a
Stories. The folklore of organizations – stories about past organizational events – is a
common aspect of culture. Stories and anecdotes, both pleasant and unpleasant, are told
repeatedly across generations of employees to communicate informally “how things
work”. Such stories reflect the uniqueness of organizational cultures. Researchers have
identified several common themes that appear to underline many organizational stories.
I. What is Leadership? Leadership is the influence that particular individuals exert on the goal achievement of
others in an organizational context. Although any organizational member can influence
other members, individuals with titles such as manager, executive supervisor, and
department head are in assigned leadership roles and are expected to exert formal
leadership and influence others.
II. Are Leaders Born? The Search for Leadership Traits
Throughout history, social observers have been fascinated by obvious examples of
successful interpersonal influence. The implicit assumption is that those who become
leaders and do a good job of it possess a special set of traits that distinguish them from
the masses of followers. Trait theories of leadership, however, did not receive serious
scientific attention until the 1900s.
A. Research on Leadership Traits
During World War I, the US military began to search for those traits which would help in
identifying future officers. Traits are individual characteristics such as physical
characteristics, intellectual ability, and personality. While many traits are not related to
leadership, research shows some traits are associated with leadership although the
connections are not very strong.
In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the study of leadership traits, and a
number of studies have shown that certain traits are closely linked to leadership including
emotional intelligence and several of the “Big Five” personality dimensions
(agreeableness, extraversion, and openness to experience). However, the usefulness of
these findings and the trait approach is questionable.
B. Limitations of the Trait Approach
There are several reasons why the trait approach is not the best means of understanding
and improving leadership. First, it is difficult to determine if traits make the leader or if
opportunity for leadership produces the traits. Second, we have few clues about what
leaders actually do to influence others successfully. Third, the most crucial problem of
the trait approach to leadership is its failure to take into account the situation in which
leadership occurs. However, traits are a precondition for certain actions that a leader must
take in order to be successful.
III. Lessons from Emergent Leadership
Following the discouragement with the trait approach, psychologists began to investigate
what leaders do in group settings. These studies concentrated on emergent leadership or
the behaviours in which certain group members exhibit that cause them to become
leaders. Two leadership roles were apparent. The task leader is a leader who is concerned with
accomplishing a task by organizing others, planning strategy, and dividing labour.
The social-emotional leader is a leader who is concerned with reducing tension,
patching up disagreements, settling arguments, and maintaining morale. Both of these
functions are important leadership roles. Thus, in general, leaders must be concerned with
both the social-emotional and task functions.
IV. The Behaviour of Assigned Leaders
What are the crucial behaviours that leaders engage in, and how do these behaviours
influence subordinate performance and satisfaction?
A. Consideration and Initiating Structure
The most involved, systematic study of leadership began at Ohio State University . This
research had employees describe their superiors along a number of behavioural
dimensions. This revealed two basic types of leadership
behaviour. Consideration involves the extent to which the leader is approachable and
shows personal concern for employees. Initiating structure involves the degree to which
the leader concentrates on group goal attainment.
B. The Consequences of Consideration and Structure
Research shows that consideration and initiating structure both contribute positively to
employees’ motivation, job satisfaction, and leader effectiveness. However, consideration
is more strongly related to follower satisfaction (leader satisfaction and job satisfaction),
motivation, and leader effectiveness, while initiating structure is slightly more strongly
related to leader job performance and group performance.There is some evidence that the
relative importance of consideration and initiating structure varies according to the nature
of the leadership situation. In general, the effects of consideration and initiating structure
depend on characteristics of the task, the employee, and the setting in which the work is
performed. These contingencies will determine which behaviour is most appropriate and
when it is to be employed.
C. Leader Reward and Punishment Behaviours
Leader reward behaviour provides employees with compliments, tangible benefits, and
deserved special treatment. Leader punishment behaviour involves the use of
reprimands or unfavourable task assignments and the active withholding of raises,
promotions, and other rewards. Contingent leader reward and punishment behaviour is
positively related to employees’ perceptions (e.g., trust in supervisor), attitudes (e.g., job
satisfaction and organizational commitment), and behaviour (e.g., effort, performance,
organizational citizenship behaviour). Noncontingent punishment behaviour is negatively
related to these outcomes.
V. Situational Theories of Leadership The situation refers to the setting in which influence attempts occur. The setting includes
the characteristics of the employees, the nature of the task they are performing, and
characteristics of the organization. Two of the best known and most studied leadership
theories are Fiedler’s Contingency Theory and House’s Path-Goal Theory.
A. Fiedler's Contingency Theory
Fred Fiedler has developed a situational theory of leadership called Contingency
Theory. According to the theory, the association between leadership orientation and
group effectiveness is contingent on (depends on) the extent to which the situation is
favourable for the exertion of influence.
Leadership Orientation. Fiedler has measured leadership orientation by having leaders
describe their Least Preferred Co-worker (LPC), a current or past co-worker with
whom the leader has had a difficult time accomplishing a task. Fiedler has argued that the
LPC score reveals a personality trait that reflects the leader's motivational structure. The
leader who describes the LPC relatively favourably (a high LPC score) can be considered
relationship oriented. The leader who describes the LPC unfavourably (a low LPC score)
can be considered task oriented.
Situational Favourableness. This is the "contingency" part of Contingency Theory.
Factors affecting situational favourableness include: leader-member relations, task
structure, and position power. In general, the situation is most favourable for leadership
when leader-member relations are good, the task is structured, and the leader has strong
The Contingency Model. According to the theory, a task orientation (low LPC) is most
effective when the leadership situation is very favourable or when it is very unfavourable.
A relationship orientation (high LPC) is most effective in conditions of medium
Evidence and Criticism. Although there is reasonable support for Fiedler's Contingency
Theory, several studies have found some evidence to be contradictory suggesting that
theory needs some adjustment.
B. House's Path-Goal Theory
House's Path-Goal Theory is concerned with the situations under which various leader
behaviours (directive, supportive, participative, achievement-oriented) are most effective.
The Theory. According to House, effective leaders form a connection between employee
goals and organizational goals. In order to provide job satisfaction and leader acceptance,
leader behaviour must be perceived as immediately satisfying or as leading to future
satisfaction. Leader Behavior. Path-Goal Theory is concerned with four specific kinds of leader
Directive behaviour. Directive leaders schedule work, maintain performance standards,
and let employees know what is expected of them.
Supportive behaviour. Supportive leaders are friendly, approachable, and concerned with
pleasant interpersonal relationships.
Participative behaviour. Participative leaders consult with employees about work-related
matters and consider their opinions.
Achievement-oriented behaviour. Achievement-oriented leaders encourage employees to
strive for a high level of goal accomplishment.
Situational Factors. Path-Goal Theory is concerned with two primary classes of
situational factors: employee characteristics and environmental factors. Different types of
employees need or prefer different forms of leadership. Thus, employees who are for
example, high need achievers, prefer to be told what to do, or who feel that they have low
task abilities will each respond best to certain types of leadership.
Also, according to the theory, the effectiveness of leadership depends on the particular
work environment. Thus, routine tasks, challenging but ambiguous tasks, and frustrating,
dissatisfying jobs each require specific leader behaviours for leadership to be effective.
Effective leaders should take advantage of the motivating and satisfying aspects of jobs
while offsetting or compensating for those job aspects that demotivate or dissatisfy.
Evidence and Criticism. In general, there is some research support for the situational
propositions of the theory. Supportive or considerate leader behaviour is most beneficial
in supervising routine, frustrating, or dissatisfying jobs. Directive or structuring leader
behaviour is most effective on ambiguous, less structured jobs. As well, the theory is
more effective in predicting employee job satisfaction and acceptance of the leader than
in predicting employee performance.
VI. Participative Leadership: Involving Employees in Decisions
An important topic of leadership is participative leadership.
A. What is Participation?
Participative leadership involves employees in making work-related decisions. Leaders
can vary in the extent to which they involve employees in decision- making. Participative
leadership should not, however, be confused with abdication of leadership, which is
almost always ineffective. Participation can involve individual employees or the entire
group of employees that reports to the leader. B. Potential Advantages of Participative Leadership
There are several advantages of participative leadership.
Motivation. Participation can increase the motivation of employees. Participation leads to
the establishment of work goals and can increase intrinsic motivation by enriching
Quality. Participation can lead to higher-quality decisions and empower employees to
take direct action to solve problems.
Acceptance. Participation can increase employees’ acceptance of decisions especially
when issues of fairness are involved.
C. Potential Problems of Participative Leadership
There are several difficulties associated with participation.
Time and Energy. Participation involves specific behaviours on the part of the leader and
these behaviours use time and energy.
Loss of Power. Some leaders feel that a participative style will reduce their power and
Lack of Receptivity or Knowledge. Employees might not be receptive to participation or
might lack the knowledge to contribute effectively to decisions.
D. A Situational Model of Participation
Victor Vroom and Arthur Jago have developed a model that attempts to specify in a
practical manner when leaders should use participation and to what extent they should
This model takes into account various degrees of participation that can be exhibited by
the leader including autocratic, consultative, and group consensus. The most effective
strategy depends on the situation or problem at hand. In general, the leader’s goal should
be to make high-quality decisions to which employees will be adequately committed
without undue delay. To do this, he or she must consider a number of questions in a
decision tree. By taking a problem through the decision tree, the leader can determine the
correct degree of participation for the problem solving situation. Following the model’s
prescriptions is more likely to lead to successful managerial decisions than unsuccessful
decisions. The model has been used frequently in management development seminars.
E. Does Participation Work? In general, employees who participate in job-related decisions are more satisfied than
those who do not. Thus, most workers seem to prefer a participative work environment.
However, the effects of participation on productivity are still open to question.
Participation should work best when employees feel favourably toward it, when they are
intelligent and knowledgeable about the issue at hand, and when the task is complex
enough to make participation useful.
VII. Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) Theory
Leader Member Exchange or LMX Theory is a theory of leadership that focuses on
the quality of the relationship between a leader and an employee. High quality
relationships or high LMX involve a high degree of mutual influence and obligation as
well as trust, loyalty, and respect between a leader and an employee. Low-quality
relationships or low LMX is characterized by low trust, respect, obligation, and mutual
support. The quality of LMX is related to employee job performance, overall satisfaction,
satisfaction with supervision, commitment, role conflict, role clarity, and turnover
VIII. Transformational and Transactional Leadership
Traditional theories of le