BU288 Lecture 7 Ch. 7: Groups & Teamwork Thurs. Oct. 4. 2012.
• Roles: positions in a group that have a set of expected behaviours attached to them
• “packages” of norms that apply to particular group members (vs. norms that everyone
1) Assigned roles: formally prescribed by an organization as a means of dividing labour and
responsibility to facilitate task achievement who does what, who can tell others what to do
2) Emergent roles: develop naturally to meet the social-emotional needs of members or to
assist in formal job accomplishment; informal leaders, scapegoats (targets of group hostility)
• Role Ambiguity: lack of clarity of job goals/methods characterized by confusion about how
performance is evaluated or what the limits of one’s authority/responsibility are
o Solutions: managers can provide clear performance expectations & feedback
o Role senders develop role expectations & send roles to focal people, who try to fulfill the
o Organizational factors: some roles are naturally ambiguous because of their function
o Role sender: may have unclear expectations of a focal person, or not clearly
o Focal person: even clear expectations may not be fully digested by them, especially if
• Role Conflict: condition of being faced with incompatible role expectations (but may be
o Solutions: avoid self-contradictory messages, confer with other role senders, fit person to
o Intrasender role conflict: one role sender provides incompatible role expectations to
someone. (ex: manager tells workers to take it easy, but assigns a lot of work) also
o Intersender role conflict: 2 or more role senders provide one person with incompatible
expectations. Workers straddling the line between the firm & its clients encounter this.
o Interrole conflict: several roles held by role occupant involve incompatible expectations.
o Person-role conflict: role calls for behaviour that’s incompatible with their
• Consequences of role ambiguity/conflict: job stress, dissatisfaction, lowered performance,
• Status: rank, social position, or prestige accorded to group members; group’s evaluation of
• What is evaluated depends on the status system, but when a status system works
smoothly, the group will exhibit clear norms about who should be accorded higher or lower
• Formal status systems: management’s attempt to publicly identify those who have higher
o It’s obvious since this identification is implemented by the application of status symbols
(titles, pay packages, etc.) that are tangible indicators of status.
o Criteria can be seniority (may come with privileges) or assigned roles/jobs (secretary vs.
o Status induces members to aspire to higher positions & reinforces authority hierarchy.
• Informal status systems: not well advertised, and may lack visible symbols, but are just as
1 BU288 Lecture 7 Ch. 7: Groups & Teamwork Thurs. Oct. 4. 2012.
o Job performance can be a basis for the acquisition of informal status
o Managers who perform well early in their careers are called “fast trackers” and given
o Gender or race can also be linked to informal status man who takes a day off work to
care for a sick child may be praised, while a woman may be questioned about her work
• Consequences of status differences: communication moves up the status hierarchy as
most people like to communicate with those at their own status or higher. But if status
differences are large, people can be inhibited from communicating upward communication
gest stalled. Also, higher status members talk more and have more influence, when they
may not be the smartest at hand.
• Reducing status barriers: goal=teamwork; firms moderate status difference due to
communication problems. Firms employ misguided attempts to bridge the status barrier. (ex:
Casual Fridays). Also, emails & ways to avoid live confrontation encourage low-status
people to talk directly with VIPs.
Consequences of Cohesiveness
• More participation in group activities: because members want to remain in the group,
voluntary turnover from cohesive groups is low. Also, cohesive group members like being
with each other, so absence is lower in such groups. Participation is reflected in a high
degree of communication within the group as members cooperate/ assist each other.
• More conformity: cohesive groups can easily induce conformity to group norms, as the
members are motivated to keep the group cohesive. (Ex: pressure deviants to get them to
comply with group norms). Over time, if such communication is ineffective in inducing
conformity, it decreases because the group has isolated the deviant to maintain
cohesiveness among the majority.
• More success: better participation and conformity to group norms, ensures agreement
about group goals & methods to achieve the goals. Note that cohesive groups are good at
accomplishing their own goals. If these goals don’t match firm’s goals, company’s
effectiveness may be threatened.
• Cohesiveness improves productivity when group goals match firm’s goals, and with
• In highly cohesive groups, productivity of individual members is fairly similar to that of other
members. In less cohesive groups, there’s more variation in productivity
• Cohesiveness is more likely to pay off when the task requires more interdependence
• Highly cohesive groups tend to be more/less productive than less cohesive groups
• Collective efficacy: shared beliefs that a team can successfully perform a given task self-
efficacy doesn’t necessarily translate into collective efficacy!
• We use the words “group” and “team” interchangeably, but a team is basically when there’s
a strong sense of shared commitment & the group’s efforts are greater than the sum of its
• organizations should pay attention to how work groups are designed and managed
• J. Richard Hackman said a work group is effective when
2 BU288 Lecture 7 Ch. 7: Groups & Teamwork Thurs. Oct. 4. 2012.
1) Its physical/intellectual output is acceptable to management & to other parts of
2) Group members’ needs are satisfied (vs. frustrated) by the group
3) The group experience enables members to continue to work together
• Group effectiveness occurs when high effort is directed towards the group task, when great
knowledge and skill are directed toward the task, and when the group adopts sensible
strategies for accomplishing its goals achieved by self-managed work teams
• **How to design an effective team (by J. Richard Hackman)
1) Make it clear who’s part of the team and who isn’t
2) Give the team a compelling direction
3) Give the team structure, with well-designed tasks & effective norms
4) Have a supportive organization
5) Provide expert coaching and facilitation
Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs)
• SMWTs: work groups that have the opportunity to do challenging work under reduced
• focus on improving coordination, raising collective efficacy, lower social loafing
• (semi) autonomous, and self-directed success depends on task, composition, support
• Tasks for SMWTs: the tasks should be challenging, requiring high interdependence for
o Teams should see the task as significant, perform the task from start to end, and use
o SMWTs must self-manage something useful. Complex tasks capitalize on their diverse
o Theme: breakdown of traditional, conventional, specialized roles in the group. Members
adopt roles will make the group effective, not ones simply related to a narrow specialty.
• Composition of SMWTs: assemble SMWTs in a stable, small, smart way
o Stability: SMWTs need interaction & cohesiveness, & thus understanding & trust. So
membership must be stable. Moving members in/out will cause it to fail to develop a true
o Size: SMWTs should be as small as is feasible. The goal is to keep coordination
problems and social loafing to a minimum. These are especially bad for SMWTs because
of lower supervision.
o Expertise: Everybody does not have to know everything, but the group as a whole
should be knowledgeable about the task. Reduced supervision discourages running to
the boss when issues arise, so everyone should have social skills to resolve conflict in
o Diversity: teams should have members who are similar enough to work well together
and diverse enough to bring a variety of views and skills to the task at hand.
Cultural diversity has greater impact on performance than demographic (age, sex)
Diversity in cultural values affect performance more than having 1 score on a specific
Diversity on various cultural values affect performance differently in different
countries, depending on their dominant cultural orientation