Organizational Behavior - Students
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Chapter Resources: Guide to the Text

Chapter 10

Glossary
activities

An organization's formal requirements for group members such as job duties and responsibilities; similar to required behavior.

adjustment

The third phase of workgroup socialization; new group member has successfully adapted to the workgroup, and the group has successfully adapted to the new member.

anticipation

The first phase of workgroup socialization; occurs before person joins a workgroup; develops image of participation in the group.

bases of attraction

Factors that explain why people who can potentially interact are sufficiently attracted to each other to form a cohesive group; e.g., similarities in age, attitudes, or ethnic background.

cohesive group

A group where its members are attracted to its task, to its norms, and to other members of the group. cohesive group formation, organizational factors that affect Include factors in the physical work area, the work processes, or the organizational design that encourage or restrict social interaction; e.g., proximity of people and the noise level.

communication network

In groups and intergroup processes, part of a group's social structure; each member has a position in the network; varies in degree of centrality to group functioning.

compatibility of group members

A factor that can affect group effectiveness; less conflict when group members are compatible in needs and personality.

compliance conformity

Occurs when a person goes along with the group's norms without accepting those norms.

conformity

Acceptance of a group's norms; two types of conformity: compliance and personal acceptance.

dysfunctional consequences of groups

Negative aspects of groups; include taking more time to accomplish tasks, loss of individual identity for members, free-rider effects, groupthink, and pressure for conformity to group norms.

electronic meeting systems (EMS)

Computer software that helps virtual groups function.

emergent behavior

Behavior that grows from interactions among group members; can focus on work tasks or be purely social.

encounter

The second phase of workgroup socialization; occurs after person joins a workgroup and begins to learn her role in it.

factors affecting cohesive group formation

Aspects of the physical layout of work areas, work processes, organizational design, and job design that affect the formation of cohesive groups.

factors affecting group effectiveness

Factors that enhance group members' satisfaction and increase the group's ability to meet goals. Include the physical environment, size and type of work area, group size, member compatibility, and the group's goals.

formal groups

Functional or task groups within an organization. Functional groups are formed by the organization's design; departments; task groups are formed temporarily to perform a specific duty, e.g., committees.

functions of groups

The good results of groups in organizations; include socialization of group members, a source of rewards for group members, and support of members, especially in hazardous work.

group

An interdependent set of people doing a task or trying to reach a common goal.

group cohesion stage (norming)

A stage of group development; group has defined its roles and role relationship; agrees about correct member behavior.

group decision support systems (GDSSs)

Computer software that supports a virtual group's problem-solving or decision-making processes.

group effectiveness, factors affecting

Factors that enhance the group members' satisfaction and increase the group's ability to meet goals; include the physical environment, social environment, and the group's size and task.

group formation stage (forming)

A stage of group development; group members meet each other for the first time and learn about the group's task.

group goals

Factors that can affect group effectiveness; groups with specific, clear goals outperform those with less clear and specific goals.

group size

A factor that can affect group effectiveness; associated with several effects, including decreased satisfaction and member participation, as group size increases.

groupthink

A dysfunctional consequence of groups that affects cohesive decision-making groups. Such groups strive for consensus and consider only a few decision alternatives.

individual roles

Part of the social structure of groups; a set of roles that focus on member needs and behavior that often have little to do with the group.

informal groups

Groups formed within and across formal groups in organizations; not formally established; may be based on shared interests or friendship.

interaction

Social interaction between two or more people; includes face-to-face interaction or through written materials or telecommunication devices.

intergroup processes

Social interactions at the interfaces of groups; members of different groups interact to complete a task; can feature intergroup conflict.

intragroup conflict stage (storming)

A stage of group development; discussions focus on behavior, roles, and social relationships that are right for the group's task.

maintenance roles

Part of the social structure of groups; a set of roles that focus on behavioral processes within the group that help reach group goals.

majority group members

Hold strongly to a group's norm or position; pressure minority group members to conform to the norm.

minority group members

Deviant group members who do not accept the group's dominant position.

norms

Unwritten rules of behavior for members of a cohesive group; define acceptable behavior and roles of group members.

personal acceptance conformity

Occurs when a group member goes along with the group's norms because her beliefs and attitudes are congruent with those norms.

physical environment

A factor that can affect group effectiveness; affects interaction within the group by allowing or restricting social interaction.

power and influence patterns

Part of the social structure of a group; patterns of authority and influence within a group of formal and informal leaders.

required behavior

What a person must do because of organizational membership and as part of a person's role in the formal group.

self-managing teams

Work units that have the authority to make decisions about product design, process design, and customer service; also known as self-managing workgroups.

sentiments

Attitudes, beliefs, and feelings about those with whom one interacts.

size and type of work area

A factor that can affect group effectiveness; a crowded work area can prevent people from working comfortably; a defined group boundary can help a group become cohesive.

social loafing

A dysfunctional consequence of groups. Can occur within groups; also called the free-rider effect. Can develop when a person perceives her effort in the group as unimportant or not easily observed by others. Reduces effort toward group's goals, often lowering overall group performance. See also sucker effects.

social structure of groups

The social arrangement of a group; includes several dimensions such as group member roles, status structure, the group's communication network, and power and influence patterns within the group.

stages of group development

Include group formation (forming), intragroup conflict (storming), group cohesion(norming), task orientation (performing), and termination; mark plateaus in group evolution, not discrete and clearly identifiable states.

status structure

Part of the social structure of a group; defines the relative position of each role in a group and the relationships among roles.

sucker effects

A dysfunctional consequence of groups. Happen when other group members perceive a free rider and reduce effort to remedy feelings of inequity; often lower overall group performance. See also social loafing.

task orientation stage (performing)

A stage of group development; group members are comfortable with each other and have accepted the group's norms.

task roles

Part of the social structure of groups; a set of roles that focus on the group's tasks, issues, and problems.

termination or adjourning stage

A stage of group development; group has reached its goals and disbands or redefines task and group membership.

virtual groups

Human groups that use computer systems to link group members; computer networks linked by an organization's intranet or over the Internet.

workgroup socialization

The process by which people learn their role in a workgroup; has three phases: anticipation, encounter, and adjustment. See also organizational socialization (Chapter 6).

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Chapter Overview

Chapter 10 describes group and intergroup processes in organizations. The chapter focuses on the role of groups in organizations and distinguishes formal groups from informal groups. Descriptions follow about the functions and dysfunctions of groups in organizations and why people join groups. The chapter develops a model of cohesive group formation and discussion of group development stages. It then describes the growing use of virtual groups and self-managing teams in modern organizations. Two sections describe majority and minority influences in groups and workgroup socialization processes. The chapter discusses workforce diversity effects on group development and functioning. The chapter also discusses intergroup processes in organizations.

Learning Goals

After reading this chapter, the reader should be able to

  • Distinguish between formal and informal groups.
  • Define the basic conceptual tools for understanding groups.
  • Compare the functions and dysfunctions of groups in organizations.
  • Describe how and why cohesive groups form in organizations.
  • Discuss the role of activities, interactions, and sentiments in cohesive group formation.
  • List the stages of group development and the behavior that likely occurs in each stage.
  • Define factors that affect group effectiveness, including minority influence in groups.
  • Discuss the functioning of virtual groups in organizations and some characteristics of virtual group technology.
  • Explain the emergence and use of self-managing teams in organizations.
  • Discuss the management roles required by self-managing teams.
  • Describe workgroup socialization processes.
  • Explain intergroup processes in organizations.
  • Appreciate some international and ethical issues that surround group and intergroup processes in organizations.

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Chapter Outline
Introduction
  1. Groups, group dynamics, intergroup processes: inevitable and critical aspects of organizations and their management
  2. Group: an interdependent set of people doing a task or trying to reach a common goal
  3. A group is a complex, adaptive system that can change its membership, goals, and structure over time
  4. Groups can powerfully affect people's behavior
  5. Knowledge of group dynamics can help you function better within a group or manage group activities
Formal and Informal Groups
  1. Formal groups
    1. Functional groups. Created by the formal organization structure. Permanent: departments, work units
    2. Task groups. Created to do a specific task or solve a specific problem. Temporary: task forces, project teams, or committees
    3. Self-managing teams. A growing use in many organizations. Autonomy is a major feature
  2. Informal groups. Interest groups and friendship groups. Emerge within and across the formal groups. Powerful — the shadow organization
  3. Membership in informal groups is voluntary. Membership in formal groups is required by employer. Attraction to members of the group. Similarity in attitudes, beliefs, and opinions
Basic Concepts for Understanding Groups in Organizations
  1. Norms
  2. Cohesiveness
  3. Conformity
    1. Compliance: goes along with the group's norms, but does not personally accept those norms
    2. Personal acceptance: individual's beliefs and attitudes are congruent with the group's norms. The more powerful of the two forms of conformity — greater control
    3. Conformity is not necessarily bad. Gives order to the group's activities. Individual members know what to expect from each other. Conformity often leads to effective group performance
  4. Required and emergent behaviors
Functions of Groups in Organizations
  1. Socialization of members
  2. Motivation system
  3. Support members while doing the work. Especially important for hazardous work
  4. Informal social behavior. Adds a purely social dimension to working
Dysfunctions of Groups in Organizations
  1. Groups do not always produce positive results for either the individual or the organization
  2. Groups take more time than individuals
    1. Group structure takes time to develop
    2. Roles, statuses, and norms take time to specify
    3. Conflict within the group takes time to settle
  3. Social loafing, free-rider, and sucker effects
  4. People who are members of cohesive informal groups can experience some loss of their individual identity. Being able to hide in a group may lead a person to behave in ways atypical for the individual. Responsibility for negative results of the group's action can become diffused among group members. No single person takes responsibility for a bad decision
  5. Pressures toward uniformity. Groupthink. Discussed more fully in Chapter 14, “Decision-Making and Problem-Solving Processes”
Model of Cohesive Group Formation
  1. Activities, interactions, and sentiments
  2. Organizational factors affecting cohesive group formation
    1. Proximity
    2. Physical isolation
    3. Ambient noise level
    4. Required interaction
    5. Incomplete job descriptions
    6. Free time at work
    7. Physically tied to workstation
    8. Attention required by work
    9. Absenteeism and turnover
  3. Bases of attraction
Stages of Group Development
  1. Important because productivity is not always highest in the early group development stages
    1. Group formation (forming). Orienting the members of the group to the group's task and to each other
    2. Intragroup conflict (storming). Emergence of status structure of the group. Interpersonal conflict
    3. Group cohesion (norming). Development of group norms. Cohesiveness
    4. Task orientation (performing). Maturity. Social issues settled. Now focus on the task
    5. Termination
    6. Repetition of the stages. Redevelopment of group when a new member joins. Relationship to socialization (Chapter 6, “Organizational Socialization”).
Social Structure of Groups
  1. Social structure
    1. Prescribed by the organization for formal groups such as functional and task groups
    2. Emerges within an informal group. Members often know what that structure is and can describe it. Or the informal group decides to formalize and specify its structure in writing or by any device it considers appropriate
    3. Once a group has matured and established its norms, the structure can persist even as group membership changes
  2. Dimensions of group structure
    1. Roles, norms, status
      1. Expected behavior of role occupant
      2. Changes made by person who takes on the role
    2. Status: rank and place
    3. Norms
    4. Communication network: person's position within it
      1. Central: connected to everyone in the group
      2. Peripheral: removed from other group members
      3. Positioned between two other members. Communication must go through the connecting role. Can be a bottleneck to communication
      4. More in Chapter 13, “Communication Processes”
    5. Power and influence
      1. Individual needs. Needs for dominance, affiliation, autonomy, security, structure, order (Murray, Chapter 7, “Motivation: Need Theories”)
      2. Individual abilities. Have the only resource that is important to achieving the group's goals (expertise, laptop computer). Or several people have the resource that must be pooled to reach the group's goals
  3. Group structure effects
    1. Individual needs, satisfaction, behavior, influence. Need for affiliation, need for power, need for dominance
    2. Behavior differences from group to group. Different status position and roles in different groups
    3. Role conflict
    4. Achieving group goals. Group performance. More detail in the next section
Factors that Affect Group Effectiveness
  1. Physical environment
    1. Seating arrangement. People at ends of a rectangular table participate more in group activities than those in other positions
    2. Those across from each other interact more than with others in different positions
    3. Those who know each other well tend to sit next to each other
    4. Leaders emerge from the head positions of a rectangular table. More difficult to predict in a circular arrangement
    5. Effect of physical setting. Crowding
  2. Social environment
    1. Compatibility of members leads to higher group productivity. Enjoy the company of others in the group
    2. If the task requires variations in people's performance, then variations in members' characteristics lead to higher group performance. If the task requires similarities in people's performance, similarities in members' characteristics lead to higher performance
    3. Members with special skills that apply to the group's task will be the more active participants and more strongly affect the group's decisions
    4. More communication within a cohesive group
    5. Members of cohesive groups are more cooperative with each other and more satisfied with the group and its task
    6. Highly cohesive groups more strongly affect members' behavior than less cohesive groups. Nature of norms, of course, are important here
    7. Groups with members having diverse abilities that apply to the task of the group are more effective
  3. Group size
    1. Small refers to groups with seven or fewer members
    2. As size increases, satisfaction with the group's activities decreases
    3. Participation of members drops as size of the group increases
    4. Communication difficulty in large groups
    5. Individuals more likely to conform to group norms in small groups
    6. Larger groups have more resources to work on the group's task. Can have difficulty in reaching agreement
    7. Discussion and problem-solving groups should be five people to get best performance
    8. Leader is more likely to emerge as group size increases
    9. Odd-even effects
  4. Task
    1. Cooperation requirements. Interdependence. Highly cooperative tasks are better done in smaller groups
    2. Task difficulty and feedback within the group while doing the task
    3. Complex: decentralized group structure
    4. Simple: centralized group structure
    5. Implications for designing groups
Virtual Groups
  1. Definition
    1. Interactive computer-based systems
    2. Uses communication, computer, and decision support technologies
    3. Technologies support problem-solving and decision-making groups
    4. Goal is to support group processes that increase decision effectiveness and quality
    5. Temporal and physical configurations range across meeting in real time and asynchronously
    6. Names of some systems in use
      1. GroupSystems
      2. Cisco Systems WebEx
  2. Technologies' features and characteristics
    1. Decision tools. Software that supports a problem-solving or decision-making task. Example: stakeholder analysis tool
    2. Process tools. Software that supports a particular approach to a group's task. Example: electronic brainstorming tool
    3. Parallel communication. Ability of group members to communicate with everyone in the group
    4. Anonymous communication. No identification attached to a person's message
    5. Shared software. Available equally to all group members. Allows joint tasks
    6. Shared view. All group members have the same view of the group's work
    7. Communication
      1. Synchronous: chat rooms and other direct computer-to-computer communication
      2. Asynchronous: e-mail, bulletin boards for threaded discussions
  3. Challenges presented to organizations and management
    1. Building trust among group members
    2. Building group cohesiveness
    3. Reducing feelings of member isolation and detachment
    4. Balancing member interpersonal and technical skill requirements
    5. Recognizing group and member performance
Self-Managing Teams
  1. Definition
  2. Distinguishing features. Use for interdependent tasks
  3. Composition and size
  4. Team processes
    1. Cooperative behavior
    2. Interdependent with each other to get task done
    3. Synergy
    4. Conflict management
    5. Interactions, activities, and sentiments view applies here. Want cohesiveness
  5. Team leader
  6. Links to customers and suppliers. Links inside and outside the organization
  7. Managing self-managing teams
  8. Empirical research results
Workgroup Socialization
  1. Similar to the organizational socialization process discussed in Chapter 6
  2. Unfolds in three related phases
    1. Phase 1: Anticipation
    2. Phase 2: Encounter
    3. Phase 3: Adjustment
  3. Features that distinguish workgroup socialization from organizational socialization
    1. New member's entry can strongly affect processes and structure. Smaller than an entire organization
    2. Forming new groups of any type starts the process of socializing the entire workgroup
    3. Group member departure
      1. Group member can want to leave
      2. Group can decide it wants a member to leave
      3. Withdrawal process starts; person becomes a marginal group member
Majority and Minority Influences in Groups
  1. Earlier discussion about group norms and group cohesiveness possibly left you with the impression of the absence of deviant behavior in groups
    1. Cohesive groups feature an attachment to a group's norm or position by the majority of group members
    2. Majority group members can pressure minority or deviant members to conform to a group's norm or position
    3. Majority group members outnumber minority members
    4. Hold negative view of minority or deviant members
    5. Research shows positive group performance effects of minority group member influence
    6. Group could perform at a lower level because members ignore information from one or more nonconforming members
  2. Minority group members
    1. Do not endorse the prevailing group opinion on an issue, problem, or decision. Oppose the group's prevailing position
    2. Minority members bring alternative views to a problem or decision faced by the group
    3. Increase conflict within the group (see Chapter 11, “Conflict in Organizations”)
    4. Promote divergent thinking among majority members. Attend to new information that can lead to better decisions or problem solutions
    5. Minority group members' effects on majority opinion
      1. Consistent statements of opinion
      2. Confidence in position
      3. Repeated statements of opinion (persistence)
      4. Timing of statements. For example, an increase in workplace accidents and pressing for better health insurance coverage
Effects of Workforce Diversity
  1. Positive effects
    1. Diverse outlooks can potentially help create more solutions to problems
    2. Find better ways of doing group's work
    3. Especially useful to organizations that use teams to analyze work
    4. Successful management
      1. Knowledge of group dynamics
      2. Knowledge of conflict management
      3. Understand and accept differences
  2. Negative effects
    1. Misinterpretation of group members' intentions because of different worldviews
    2. Especially likely to happen when people hold stereotypes about other members
    3. Communication difficulties if members do not have a common first language
    4. Distrust may exist because group members fear the new and unknown
    5. High conflict potential
  3. Other effects
    1. Takes longer to pass through early stages of group formation and become cohesive
    2. Introduce wide variation in bases of attraction
    3. Make the process of becoming cohesive longer, more complex, more difficult
    4. Although the empirical research is mixed, results support the above statements
Intergroup Processes in Organizations
  1. Behavior among groups. Interactions among members of different groups in an organization. Groups such as manufacturing, quality assurance, finance, marketing, design engineering, and the like
  2. Interdependence in organizations. The necessary connections among people that result from the design of the organization and its work processes. Growing use of cross-functional teams, especially in modern manufacturing's use of concurrent engineering and the worldwide press to manage for quality. The basic management issue is the coordination of activities that require contributions from people in different groups
  3. People from different groups can have different orientations to tasks, time, and goals
  4. Those interactions can have various qualities. Several social psychological forces shape those qualities. Stereotype, categorization, etc.
  5. Intergroup behavior often results in conflict between groups. That conflict must be managed to maintain it at a functional level so people can reach their work goals. Chapter 11 discusses conflict and conflict management
  6. Workforce diversity, informal groups, and intergroup behavior. Formal groups often mixed, but informal groups can grow around characteristics shared by people and some bases of attraction
International Aspects of Groups in Organizations
  1. Form and character of some group dynamics vary among cultures
  2. Pressures for conformity. The tendency to accept group pressure for conformity to the group's norms varies among cultures. Conformity is high among Japanese to the norms of a group that has the person's primary loyalty. Experimental research with German students showed a low tendency to conform. Conformity was moderate among people in Hong Kong, Brazil, Lebanon, and the U.S. Such evidence implies caution in carrying one's home country view of conformity into other cultures
  3. Treatment of deviants. All societies pressure deviates to conform to norms. The cultural differences center on the strength of the pressure and the intensity of group rejection of a deviate. Some limited experimental evidence showed French, Swedish, and Norwegian groups as highest in pressure to conform and in intensity of rejection of a deviate. German and British groups much lower in those pressures. Implies importance of such group processes within organizations operating in various countries
  4. Intergroup behavior
    1. Little cross-cultural research done. Major cultural distinction along an individualism-collectivism dimension. Collectivism emphasizes the goals of the group over those of the individual; asks loyalty to the group and emphasizes cooperation among group members. Individualism focuses on the person, not the group
    2. Collectivistic cultures expect little expression of conflict during intergroup interactions. A suppression of it with little discussion about the feelings of the members of the different groups that come into contact with each other. More personalization during the interaction. Focus on the people in the interaction, despite the group they represent. Group membership is more salient during intergroup interactions than in individualistic cultures
  5. The cross-cultural differences in group and intergroup behavior emphasize major areas of cultural diversity for organizations operating in a global environment. Several observations about managing such culturally diverse groups
    1. Select team members of about equal ability, not based on cultural factors only. The manager can also let all members of the team know about the achievements of each person. Try to develop mutual respect among team members and avoid judgments based on cultural or ethnic stereotypes
    2. Recognize differences; do not hide or ignore them. Managers could encourage team members to discuss the cultural differences in the team. Want to discover and use different, and potentially positive, ways of viewing the group's task. A form of cultural synergy that can lead to high group performance
    3. International management observers caution against letting one cultural group dominate another within a team. Such dominance can come from the cultures viewed as most advanced, those from the host country, or those from the home country of the employing organization. The goal is to get the best of the different cultural views focused on the tasks of the team
    4. Actively manage the group processes by giving feedback to each member about the member's contribution. Use this feedback to help all team members understand the contribution to its success from its cultural diversity
Ethical Issues about Groups in Organizations
  1. Similar to those in organizational socialization
  2. Conformity to group norms and the question of informed free choice
  3. Assignment to formal groups is an expected part of the employment contract
  4. No prior knowledge of the presence of informal groups and their norms. Any requirement of full disclosure by managers to recruits?
  5. People with low affiliation needs and assignment to deliberately formed groups
  6. Conflict levels within groups, especially when heterogeneous, either deliberately or from workforce diversity

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Chapter Summary

A group is a collection of people doing a task or trying to reach a goal. Formal groups are either task groups or functional groups, such as departments and work units. Informal groups form within and across formal groups. The basic concepts for understanding groups in organizations are norms, cohesiveness, required behavior, and emergent behavior. People join informal groups for many reasons, such as satisfying social needs. People with strong dominance or power needs can satisfy those needs through leadership roles in groups.

Many factors in the physical layout of work areas and work processes, organizational design, and job design affect the formation of a cohesive group. If such factors allow social interaction and positive feelings emerge among those who interact, a cohesive group should form.

The stages of group development each emphasize something different for group members. Conflict levels typically are high during the early stages of group development. Later stages focus on the group's tasks.

Several factors affect a group's effectiveness. The physical environment, social environment, group size (number of group members), and type of task all influence group effectiveness in different ways. Each factor has implications for designing groups in organizations to get work done.

Virtual groups are human groups using computer systems to link members. They feature an information technology environment using PCs or workstations connected over a network. Such connections allow different temporal and physical patterns, ranging from meeting in a single room simultaneously to meeting at dispersed locations asynchronously. The system's goal is to support group processes that increase decision effectiveness and quality.

Self-managing teams are an emerging, important type of formal group. These teams typically have high internal autonomy. They usually have decision authority on work scheduling, team member assignments, and the choice of a team leader. Empirical research focused on self-managing teams shows that such teams have consistent positive effects.

Workgroup socialization happens in a series of related phases, similar to the organizational socialization phases described in Chapter 6. A major characteristic distinguishing workgroup socialization from organizational socialization is a process of mutual adjustment and adaptation for newcomers and group members.

Cohesive groups feature an attachment to a group's norm or position by most group members. Majority group members can pressure minority or deviant members to conform to a group's norm or position. Majority group members outnumber minority group members and often hold negative views of minority or deviant members. Although minority group members are outnumbered in groups, research shows positive group performance effects of minority group member influence.

Cultural differences in group dynamics suggest one should learn about those differences before taking an assignment in another country. The pressure to conform to group norms and the value placed on conformity to those norms vary from culture to culture. Cultures also differ in how much conflict between groups they will accept.

The major ethical issues about groups in organizations center on conformity to group norms and informed free choice. Cohesive groups develop powerful forces of socialization to their norms. Such groups reject deviant members after unsuccessful efforts to get conformity to norms. Are managers ethically required to tell recruits about all cohesive informal groups in the organization?

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Personal and Management Implications

The implications of groups for you as an individual derive from the ways a cohesive group can affect your behavior. If you like to interact with people, you likely will become a member of an existing informal group. If the group is cohesive, its norms will affect your behavior. Of course, if you do not care to interact with others, you will probably not become a member and the group will have little effect on you.

The norms of a cohesive group do not always accord with the wishes of management and the organization. During your early socialization in an organization, a group may present you with performance norms that contradict the organization's norms. You can experience much internal conflict when trying to decide which performance norms to accept. If you value group membership highly, you will likely accept the group's norms. If those norms also contradict management's performance norms, you may find yourself at odds with the organization.

The positive side of a cohesive group for you is the support it can give its members. If the tasks of the group are interdependent, group support should help you get your job done. The group can also be an important source of information about how to do the tasks. A cohesive group can help you “learn the ropes” quickly.

Recall from text Chapter 6, “Organizational Socialization,” that the early stages of socialization are both important and potentially stressful. The stages of group development you experience when entering groups of varying maturity put pressures upon you along with their socialization efforts.1 Organizations that use temporary teams expose their employees to repeated pressures from both the stages of group development and the socialization process.

You likely will have future chances to participate in virtual groups, as organizations increasingly use them. Reflect on your reaction to technology, especially communication technology. If you have positive reactions, you will likely comfortably fit into a virtual group. If not, your experience could have negative effects on you.

Some management implications derive from two major properties of cohesive groups:

  1. their powerful effect on individual behavior
  2. group norms.

Managers should consider how they can use the positive qualities of cohesive groups. Such groups can support individual performance and help develop innovative solutions to problems.

Deliberately constructing factors that help group formation, or reducing factors that impede group formation, is a major management implication. Managers can affect whether a cohesive group will form. More difficult is getting group norms that accord with your goals and those of your organization. The information in text Chapters 12, “Leadership and Management,” and Chapter 18, “Organizational Change and Development,” should help you create a climate for the development of groups with the norms you want.

When you deliberately use groups in an organization, you need to understand the stages of group development and the effects of those stages on group members. You can help the stages of group development in many ways. Give newcomers an accurate picture of what it is like to work in a group before they join. Anticipatory socialization and realistic job previews, described in text Chapter 6, can inform newcomers about the group before they arrive. The more accurate the information, the more it will help the individuals adjust to the group. Well-informed newcomers will also minimally disturb the existing group's social and task structure.

The growing use of virtual groups in their varying forms should pose some challenges for you in the future. Such groups require that you not only understand the basic knowledge about groups described in text Chapter 10, “Groups and Intergroup Processes,” but also understand the technologies that support virtual groups. Interactions between technology and human behavior should present you with unusual opportunities in the future.

People who choose to work outside their home country will be affected by cultural differences in groups and group dynamics. One simply cannot carry home country assumptions about the right way to behave in groups into another culture. Although our knowledge is still limited, the available evidence suggests you should inquire about cultural differences in such behavior.

Note
  1. Wanous, J. P., A. E. Reichers, and S. D. Malik. 1984. Organizational Socialization and Group Development: Toward an Integrative Perspective. Academy of Management Review 9: 670–83.

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