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Chapter 7

Chapter 7 - Groups and Teamwork

Management (MGH)
Course Code
Joanna Heathcote

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Chapter 7 – Groups and Teamwork
What is a Group?
-Group – two or more people interacting interdependently to achieve a common goal
- Group memberships are important b/c groups exert a tremendous influence on us, they are the
social mechanisms by which we acquire many beliefs, values and attitudes and behaviours and
also allows us to exert influence on others
-Formal work groups – groups that are established by organizations to facilitate the achievement
of organizational goals
-Intentionally designed to channel individual effort in an appropriate direction
- Other formal work groups include task forces and committees
-Task forces are temporary groups that meet to achieve particular goals or to solve particular
-Committees are usually permanent groups that handle recurrent assignments outside the usual
work group structures
-Informal groups – groups that emerge naturally in response to the common interests of
organizational members
Group Development
Typical Stages of Group Development
-Forming – group members try to orient themselves by testing waters, situation is ambiguous and
members are aware of their dependency on each other
-Storming – 2nd stage – conflict often emerge, confrontation and criticism occur, roles and
responsibilities are sorted out
-Norming – members resolve the issues that provoked the storming and develop social consensus,
compromise is often necessary, group becomes more cohesive, info and opinion flow freely
-Performing – group devotes its energies toward task accomplishment, achievement, creativity and
mutual assistance are prominent themes of this stage
-Adjourning – rites and rituals that affirm the group’s previous successful development are
Punctuated Equilibrium
-Punctuated equilibrium model – a model of group development that describes how groups with
deadlines are affected by their first meetings and crucial midpoint transitions
-Phase 1 – first meeting and continues until midpoint in the group’s existence, critical for setting
the agenda and what will happen in the remainder of phase
-Assumptions, approaches and precedents that member develop end up dominating the first half of
the groups life, makes little visible progress toward the goal
-Midpoint transition – occurs at exactly halfway point in time toward the group’s deadline
-Marks change in group’s approach and how the group manages it is critical for the group to show
-Transition might consolidate previously acquired info, or mark a new approach but it crystallizes
the group’s activities for phase 2
-Phase 2 – decisions and approaches adopted in the midpoint get played out
-Concludes with a final meeting and reveals a burst of acidity and a concern for how outsiders will
evaluate the product
- Advices for group development and work teams
- Prepare carefully for first meeting, what is decided here strongly determine what happens in the
rest of phase 1
- Do not look for radical progress during phase 1

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-Manage the midpoint transition carefully
- Be sure that adequate resources are available to execute phase 2 plan
- Resist deadline changes, could damage midpoint transition
- Applies to groups with deadlines
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, vary in size and member diversity and other factors
Group size
- Smallest size – 2 people, most work groups, including task forces and committees usually have
between 3-20 members
-Size and satisfaction – large groups report less satisfaction with group membership
-Opportunities for friendship increase, chance to work on and develop these opportunities might
decrease owing to the sheer time and energy required
-As group size increase, time available for verbal participation decrease
-In large groups, members identify less easily with the success and accomplishment of the group
-Size and performance – depends on the exact task that the group needs to accomplish and how we
define good performance
-Additive task – tasks in which group performance is dependent on the sum of the performance of
individual group members, i.e. individual efforts of carpenters
-Disjunctive tasks – tasks in which group performance id dependent on the performance of the
best group member
- Potential performance of groups increase with group size b/c probability of the group including a
superior performer increases
-Process losses – group performance difficulties stemming from the problems of motivating and
coordinating larger groups
-Actual performance = potential performance – process losses
- Potential performance and process losses increase with group size for additive and disjunctive
tasks, actual performance increase with size up to a point and then falls off
- The average performance of the group members decreases as seize gets bigger
- Larger groups might perform better as groups but their individual members tend to be less
-Conjunctive tasks – tasks in which group performance is limited by the performance of the
poorest group member, i.e. assembly line limited by weakest link
- Both potential and actual performance would decrease as group size increase b/c the probability
of including a weak link increases
- For additive and disjunctive tasks, larger groups might perform better up to a point but at
increasing costs to the efficiency of individual members
- Performance on purely conjunctive tasks should decrease as group size increases
Diversity of Group Membership
-More diverse groups have a more difficult time communicating effectively and becoming
cohesive, tend to take longer forming, storming, norming, once they develop, equally cohesive
and productive as less diverse groups
-Sometimes perform better when task requires cognitive, creativity, demanding tasks and problem
solving rather than more routine work b/c members consider a boarder array of ideas
- Any negative effects of surface diversity (age, race) wears off over time, deep diversity in
attitudes toward work can badly damage cohesiveness
Group Norms
-Norms – collective expectations that members of social units have regarding the behaviour of
each other
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