Textbook Notes - Chapter 7

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10 Nov 2010
MGTB27 / 01 Week 10
What is a Group?
- A group consists of two or more people interacting interdependently to achieve a common
- Interaction does not have to take place face-to-face or have to be verbal as members of a
group could telecommute part of their work (e.g. email)
- Interdependence means that group members rely to some degree on each other to
accomplish goals
- Group memberships are important because groups exert a tremendous influence on us and it
provides a context in which we are able to exert influence on others
- Formal work groups are groups that are established by organizations to facilitate the
achievement of organizational goals
- Designed to channel individual effort in an appropriate direction (e.g. managers/supervisors
where employees report to)
- The hierarchy of most organizations is a series of formal, interlocked work groups
- Other formal work groups include:
o Task forces ± temporary groups that meet to achieve particular goals or to solve
particular problems
o Committees ± permanent groups that handle recurrent assignments outside the usual
work group structures
- Informal groups are groups that emerge naturally in response to the common interests of
organizational members (membership often cuts across formal groups)
- Informal groups can help or hurt an organization depending on their norms for behaviour
Group Development
- Even relatively simple groups require a fair amount of negotiation and trial and error before
individual members begin to function as a true group
Typical Stages of Group Development
- Leaders and trainers notice that there are a series of stages that many groups develop and
they must master the challenges in each stage before proceeding to the next stage:
o Forming
Group members try to orient themselves E\³WHVWLQJWKHZDWHUV´
Situation is often ambiguous and members are not aware of their dependency
on others
o Storming
Conflict emerges where confrontation and criticism occurs as members
determine whether they will go along with the way the group is developing
o Norming
Members resolve issues provoked in storming and develop social consensus
Compromise is necessary, interdependence is recognized, norms are agreed
to, and group becomes more cohesive
o Performing
With the social structure is sorted out, group focuses on accomplishment,
achievement, creativity, and mutual assistance
o Adjourning
Some groups such as task forces have limited life span so disperses after
achieving goals
Chapter 7 ± Group Teamwork (pg. 216 ± 243)
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MGTB27 / 02 Week 10
Rites and rituals can take place (e.g. ceremonies, parties, and emotional
- Not all groups go through all stages
o E.g. well-acquainted task forces and committees can skip some stages when they
have a new problem to work out
- Process applies mainly to new groups who have never met before
Punctuated Equilibrium
- When groups have a specific deadline to complete some problem-solving tasks, the
development sequence may be quite different to the one mentioned above
- 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
o Begins with the first meeting and continues until the midpoint RIWKHJURXS¶V
o The first meeting is crucial since it sets the agenda for assumptions, approaches, and
precedents that members follow until the midpoint
o Group gathers information and holds meetings but makes little visible progress
toward the goal
- Midpoint Transition
o Transition marks a change in the JURXS¶VDSSURDFKDQGKRZWKHJURXSPDQDJHVWKH
change shows how the group is processing
o May consolidate previously acquired information or a completely new approach
- Phase 2
o Concludes with final meetings that reveals a burst of activity and concern for how
outsiders will evaluate the product
- What advice does the punctuated equilibrium model offer?
o Prepare carefully for the first meeting since what is decided here will strongly
determine what happens in the rest of Phase 1
o As long as people are working, do not look for radical progress during Phase 1
o Manage the midpoint transition carefully by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses
of ideas generated in Phase 1
o Be sure that you have adequate resources to execute Phase 2
o Resist deadline changes which may damage the midpoint transition
Group Structures and Its Consequences
- Basic structural characteristics along which groups vary are size and member diversity
- Other characteristics are the expectations WKDWPHPEHUVKDYHDERXWRWKHVEHKDYLRXU
(norms), agreement on the roles, group member status, and their cohesiveness
Group Size
- One thing is certain, the smallest possible group consists of two people and there is no
particular limit as to the maximum number of members in a group (parliamentary size is
300-400 members and task forces/committees usually have between 3-20 members)
- Size and Satisfaction
o Members of larger groups consistently report less satisfaction with group
membership than those who find themselves in smaller groups
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MGTB27 / 03 Week 10
o As opportunities for friendship increase, the chance to work on and develop these
opportunities decrease (time permitting)
o When incorporating more members with different viewpoints, this may cause
conflict which works against member satisfaction
o The time available for verbal participation of each individual are reduced
o When groups are large, individual members identify less easily with the success and
accomplishments of the group
- Size and Performance
o The size of groups depends on the exact task that the group needs to accomplish and
on how we define good performance
o Additive tasks are tasks in which group performance is dependent on the sum of the
performance of individual group members
E.g. building a house is an additive task where the potential performance of
the group increases with group size (hiring more carpenters)
o Disjunctive tasks are tasks in which group performance is dependent on the
performance of the best group member
E.g. a research team is looking for a single complicated error and hinges on at
least one bright logical minded person to solve the task
o When groups get larger, they tend to suffer from group process loss which are group
performance difficulties stemming from the problems of motivating and coordinating
larger groups
o Actual performance = Potential performance ± Process losses
o Potential performance and process losses increase with group size for both tasks
o Actual performance increases with size up to a point then falls off
o The average performance of group members decreases as size gets bigger
o Up to a point, larger groups might perform better as groups but their individual
members tend to be less efficient
o Conjunctive tasks are tasks in which group performance is limited by the
performance of the poorest group member
E.g. an assembly line operation is limited by its weakest link
Both the potential and actual performance of conjunctive tasks would
decrease as group size increases since there is a larger probability of
including a weak link in the group
Diversity of Group Membership
- Homogenous in its membership: 8 members of 30 something years old white males
- Heterogeneous (diverse) in its membership: 50% males and 50% females all from 8
different ethnic or racial backgrounds ranging between 25-55 years old
- More diverse groups have a more difficult time communicating effectively and becoming
cohesive since it takes them longer to do their forming, storming, and norming
- Diverse groups perform better when the task requires cognitive, creativity-demanding tasks
and problem solving rather than routine work
considered harmful and damages cohesiveness
Group Norms
- Norms are collective expectations that members of social units have regarding the
behaviour of each other (similar to codes of conduct/standards)
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