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Groups and Teams in Organizational Behavior

Groups and Teams in Organizational Behavior
1. Distinguish the different types of groups
2. Understand group properties
3. Understand group decision making
4. Analyse the continued popularity of teams in organisations
5. Contrast the five types of team arrangements
Crushed by the Herd [read-only]
What is a group?
- These are two or more individuals, interacting and interdependent, who have come
together to achieve particular objectives
- This could either be formal or informal
Formal group - a designated workgroup defined by an organisation’s structure, intentionally
created by the organisation to accomplish specific objectives or tasks. They have a defined
structure, roles, and responsibilities assigned by the organization. Members of formal groups
are selected based on their skills, qualifications, or job positions. Examples of formal groups
include departments, committees, project teams, or task forces.
Informal group - a group that is neither formally structured nor organizationally determined;
such a group appears in response to the need for social contact. Informal groups emerge
naturally within the organization based on social relationships, shared interests, or common
characteristics among employees. They form spontaneously through interactions and personal
connections. Examples of informal groups include social circles, interest groups, lunch groups,
or support networks.
Why do people form groups?
Social Identity Theory - a perspective that considers when and why individuals consider
themselves as members of groups. Proposes that people have emotional reactions to the
failure or success of their group because their self-esteem gets tied to what happens to the
group with the identities we develop, relational identities and collective identification.
Ingroups and Outgroups
An outgroup is any group that you don’t belong to and are seen as distinct from the
group. Outgroups are often perceived as different or “other” compared to the ingroup.
People may hold different attitudes towards outgroup members which can range from
indifference to negative stereotypes or prejudice. The perception of an outgroup can
contribute to intergroup biases, such as discrimination or intergroup conflict.
An ingroup is a group that you associate yourself with and perceive themselves as
belonging. An ingroup provides a sense of belonging, social identity and self-esteem.
People tend to have positive attitudes towards their ingroup and exhibit favouritism or
bias towards group members.
An in-group favouritism is perspective in which we see we see members of the ingroup as better than other people and people not in our group as all the same.
The foundations of group behaviour (what are the different group properties?)
1. Role
A set of expected behaviour patterns attributed to someone occupying a
given position in a social unit. An example is a group consisting of 4 members
with each unique role to fulfil a software development project. A lead developer, a
quality assurance specialist and a graphic designer. These specific roles are
distinct and specific outlining the responsibilities and expectations associated
with the position.
Role perception is an individual’s view of how he is supposed to act in a given
Role expectations are how others believe a person should act in a given
situation with psychological contracts being unwritten arrangements that set
out what management expects from an employee and vice versa.
Role conflicts are situations in which an individual is confronted by divergent role
expectations. An interrole conflict is a situation in which the expectations of an
individual’s different separate groups are in opposition.
2. Norms
- These are acceptable standards of behaviour within a group that are
shared by the group’s members. Group roles are ground rules that can
encourage a group to work efficiently and discourage behaviours that hinder its
- Despite being unwritten, they govern how group members interact with each
other, work as a team and even how they dress.
- A good example is a sales team with norms of shared expectations and
standards of behaviour such as expectations to promptly follow up leads
generated through marketing efforts, specified time frames, the importance of
consistency within the group and collaboration is encouraged which may benefit
customer satisfaction, team cohesion and improvements in sales performance.
3. Status
- A socially defined position or rank given to groups or group members by others.
- To determine status, we use the Status Characteristics Theory, a theory that
states that differences in status characteristics can create status hierarchies
within groups. The sources of such characteristics are the power a person wields
over others, the ability to contribute to a group’s goals and personal
For example, let's say you are an Executive Vice President, which is a senior
leadership role in an organization, making key organizational decisions, and
driving corporate goals with strategic direction. This position grants an individual
significant influence with the ability to shape policies, allocate resources and
guide the overall direction of the organization. This is a highly regarded position
within the organization that often comes with respect from colleagues,
subordinates and external stakeholders. Often compensated with high salaries,
additional perks and benefits compared to lower-level positions.
4. Size and Dynamics
- Smaller groups tend to develop cohesion more quickly while being more
productive for the completion of a particular task
- Bigger groups are more effective for problem-solving, however, social loafing
may occur when there are more numbers in a group, leading to less individual
effort and the individual becomes a free rider.
5. Cohesiveness
- The degree to which group members are attracted to each other and are
motivated to stay in the group.
- When both the performance norms and cohesiveness are high, the result is high
- When the performance norms are high but the cohesiveness is low, the odds of
productivity are moderate.
- When the performance norms are low but the cohesiveness is high, this may
result in low productivity.
- When both performance norms and cohesiveness are low, expect the
productivity to be moderate to low.
- A good example is a soccer team working on its cohesion with team bonding
activities, which help build trust, have shared experiences with each other, better
communication and collaboration, and a better support system within the team.
6, Diversity
- It refers to the presence of team members from different backgrounds, experiences,
perspectives and identities. A diverse team will have diverse cultural backgrounds,
skillsets, gender and ages, and inclusion, which makes collaboration more effective
thanks to its diversity,
Group Decision Making
- Strengths
1. Generates more complete information and knowledge
2. By aggregating the resources of several individuals, groups bring more input as
well as heterogeneity into the decision process.
3. They offer an increased diversity of views. This opens up the opportunity to
consider more approaches and alternatives.
4. It leads to an increased acceptance of a solution as group members who
participate in making a decision are more likely to enthusiastically support and
encourage others to accept it later.
1. Group decisions are time-consuming because groups typically take more time to
reach a solution
2. There are conformity pressures. The desire by group members to be accepted
and considered an asset to the group can squash any disagreement.
3. Group discussions can be dominated by one of a few members
4. Group decisions may suffer from ambiguous responsibility
Byproducts of group decision making
a. A phenomenon in which the norm for consensus overrides the realistic appraisal
of alternative courses of action
a. a change between a group’s decision and an individual decision that a member
within the group would make; the shift can be toward either conservatism or
greater risk but it generally is toward a more extreme version of the group’s
original position.
Group Decision Techniques
1. Interacting groups - members interact face to face
2. Brainstorming - an idea generation process that specifically encourages any and all
alternatives while withholding any criticism of those alternatives
3. Nominal group technique - a group decision-making technique in which individual
members meet face to face to pool their judgments in a systematic but independent
Why have teams become popular?
- They are simply effective, a team of people happily committed to the project and to one
another will outperform a brilliant individual every time,
Differences between a group and a team
a. A workgroup is a group that interacts primarily to share information and make
decisions to help each member perform within his/her area of responsibility
Work team
b. A work team is a group whose individual efforts result in performance that is
greater than the sum of the individual inputs. It generates positive synergy
through coordination
Different types of teams
- Problem-solving teams
a. groups of 5 to 12 employees from the same department who meet for a few
hours each week to discuss ways of improving quality, efficiency, and the work
.self-managed work teams
a. groups of 10 to 15 people who take on the responsibilities of their former
supervisors.(e.g. planning, scheduling of works, etc.)
Cross-functional teams
a. employees from about the same hierarchical level, but from different work areas,
who come together to accomplish a task (production, finance, marketing, etc.)
Multiteam system
a. a collection of two or more interdependent teams that share a superordinate
goal; a team of team
How do we create effective teams?
- Many people have tried to identify factors related to team effectiveness. The model
shows that for a team to be effective, there should be the presence of context,
composition and process
Team Compositions
- The team composition category includes variables that relate to how the team should be staffed:
- abilities of members
- personality of members
- allocation of roles
- diversity of members' cultural differences
- size of teams
- member preferences
Team processes
- Common plan
- Specific goals
- Team efficacy
- Team identity
- Team cohesion
- Mental models
- Conflict levels
- Social loafing
How do we turn individuals into team players?
1. Selecting team players - be sure candidates can fulfil their team roles as well as the technical
2. Training - training specialists conduct exercises that allow employees to experience the
satisfaction teamwork can provide. Workshops help employees improve their problem-solving,
communication, negotiation, conflict-management, and coaching skills.
3. Rewarding - – a traditional organization’s reward system must be reworked to encourage
cooperative efforts rather than competitive ones.
- Promotions, pay raises, and other forms of recognition should be given to individuals who
work effectively as team members.
- Do not forget the intrinsic rewards such as camaraderie, that employees can receive from
- The opportunity for personal development of self and teammates can be a very satisfying
and rewarding experience.
However, Teams are not always the answer
- Teamwork takes more time and often more resources than individual work
- Teams have increased communication demand, conflicts to manage, and meetings to run
- The benefits of using the team must exceed the cost and that is not always possible
- Three tests to know if work is better done with teams:
1. Can work be done better by more than one person?
2. Does the work create a common purpose or goals for the people that is more than an
aggregate of individual goals?
3. Are members of the team interdependent?