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Chapter 7

Chapter 7 summary


Department
Management (MGH)
Course Code
MGHB02H3
Professor
Julie Mc Carthy
Chapter
7

Page:
of 8
Questions and Exercises prepared by Alan Saks.
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.
N
orming. Members resolve the issues that provoked the storming, and they develop social consensus.
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. The punctuated 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
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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
p
erformance 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
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erformance 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
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erformance and sometimes performance is better on tasks that require creativity and problem solving.
C. Group Norms
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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.
N
orm 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 held attitudes.
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:
zDress norms. Social norms frequently dictate the kind of clothing people wear to work.
zReward 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.
zPerformance 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.
D. Roles
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
p
erformance can be achieved, or what the limits of one’s authority and responsibility are. A variety of
elements can lead to ambiguity.
zOrganizational factors. Some roles seem inherently ambiguous because of their function in the
organization.
zThe role sender. Role senders might have unclear expectations of a focal person.
zThe 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
erformance 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.
zIntrasender role conflict occurs when a single role sender provides incompatible role
expectations to a role occupant.
zIntersender role conflict occurs when two or more role senders provide a role occupant with
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