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Understanding Groups and Teams. Chapter fifteen. Group. Two or more interacting and interdependent individuals who come together to achieve particular goals. Formal group—work groups defined by the organization’s structure that have designated work assignments.

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Understanding Groups and Teams

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Understanding groups and teams l.jpg

Understanding Groups and Teams

Chapter fifteen

Group l.jpg


  • Two or more interacting and interdependent individuals who come together to achieve particular goals.

    • Formal group—work groups defined by the organization’s structure that have designated work assignments.

    • Informal group—social groups that form around friendships and common interests.

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Examples of Formal Groups

  • Command groups—determined by the organizational chart; composed of individuals who report directly to a given manager.

  • Task groups—composed of individuals brought together to complete a specific job task; temporary in nature.

  • Cross-functional teams—bring together knowledge and skills of individuals from various work areas.

  • Self-directed teams—essentially independent; take on managerial responsibilities such as planning, hiring, scheduling, and performance evaluations.

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Stages of Group Development






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Stage 1: Forming

  • People join the group and then define the group’s purpose, structure, and leadership.

  • Strong need for acceptance and conflict avoidance.

  • Avoid serious issues and feelings, focus on simple tasks like when to meet, who does what.

  • Individuals are gathering information and impressions about each other and the task at hand.

  • Moving from this stage requires a willingness to move from comfort zone and start discussing topics that could produce conflict.

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Stage 2: Storming

  • Characterized by competition and conflict among members.

  • Accept membership in the group, but resist control that group imposes on individuality.

  • Questions arise regarding leadership, structure, rules, rewards, and evaluations.

  • Moving from this stage requires that the “rules for engagement” have been established and the tasks or responsibilities are clear and agreed.

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Stage 3: Norming

  • Characterized by close relationships and cohesiveness.

  • Members understand each other better and appreciate each others’ skills and experiences.

  • Listening is high.

    • Lots of data flow and creativity.

  • Hard work to get to this stage; members may resist any changes to group.

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Stage 4: Performing

  • Moved from getting to know and understand each other.

  • Characterized by interdependence and flexibility.

  • Everyone is task-oriented and people-oriented.

  • Support for experimentation in problem solving with emphasis on achievement.

  • Group identity, loyalty, and morale are high.

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Stage 5: Adjourning

  • For temporary groups, when members are concerned with wrapping up activities rather than task performance.

  • About completion and disengagement from group tasks and group members.

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Class Activity

  • Trace the development of your project team’s development through the stages of group development.

  • How closely did it parallel the group development model?

  • How might the group development model have been used to improve the group’s effectiveness?

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Explaining Work Group Behavior

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Group Behavior Model








Imposed on

the Group




and Satisfaction



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External Conditions Imposed on the Group

  • Organization’s overall strategy

  • Authority structures

  • Formal regulations

  • Availability or absence of resources

  • Employee selection criteria

  • Organization’s performance management system

  • Organization’s culture

  • Physical layout of the group’s work space

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Group Member Resources

  • Members’ knowledge, abilities, and skills

  • Interpersonal skills

    • Conflict management and resolution

    • Collaborative problem solving

    • Communication

  • Members’ personality characteristics

    • Sociability, self-reliance, and independence tend to be positively related to productivity and morale.

    • Authoritarianism and unconventionality tend to be negatively related to productivity and morale.

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Group Structure

  • Group structure influences members’ behavior.

  • Defines member roles, norms, conformity, status systems, group size, group cohesiveness, and formal leadership positions.

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Group Structure: Roles

  • A set of behavior patterns expected of someone occupying a given position in a social unit.

  • Informal roles

    • Keeping group focused

    • Encouraging all members to contribute ideas

  • Role conflict

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Group Structure: Norms

  • Acceptable standards or expectations shared by a group’s members.

  • Impacts work output levels, promptness, absenteeism, and socializing.

  • Effort and performance

  • Dress

  • Loyalty

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Group Structure: Conformity

  • Higher in collectivist cultures than in individualistic cultures.

  • Conformity to norms is high even in US.

  • Groupthink—when members feel pressure to align their opinions with others’ opinions.

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Group Structure: Status

  • Status is a prestige position.

  • Informally conferred by education, age, skill, or experience.

  • Formally conferred by organization.

    • Pay rate, office, other perks

  • Employees expect congruence between a person’s status and perks.

  • Impacts motivation.

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Group Structure: Size

  • Large groups (more than a dozen members) get better results for problem solving.

  • If goal of group is fact finding, then a larger group is more effective.

  • Small groups are faster at completing tasks than larger ones.

  • Smaller group would be better at doing something useful with the results from a fact finding group.

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Group Structure: Size (continued….)

  • Social loafing—tendency for individuals to expend less effort when working collectively than when working individually.

  • Happens in societies with individualistic cultures, not collectivism cultures.

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Group Structure: Cohesiveness

  • Degree to which members are attracted to the group and share the group’s goals.

  • Relationship between cohesiveness and effectiveness is complex.

  • Cohesive groups are more aligned to the group’s goals than the organization’s goals.

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Group Processes

  • Include communication patterns, group decision processes, and power dynamics, conflict interactions.

  • Group’s potential is defined by its constraints, resources, and structure.

  • Add in positive and negative process factors.

    • Positive—synergistic idea generation

    • Negative—social loafing, poor communication

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Two Important Group Processes

  • Group decision making

  • Conflict management

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Decision Making Process

  • Identify a Problem/Opportunity

  • Identify Decision Criteria

  • Allocate Weights to Criteria

  • List Alternatives

  • Analyze Alternatives

  • Make a Decision

  • Implement Decision

  • Evaluate Decision Effectiveness

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Advantages of Group Decision Making

  • Generate more complete information and knowledge.

  • Generate more diverse alternatives.

  • Increase acceptance of the solution.

  • Increase legitimacy.

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Disadvantages of Group Decision Making

  • Time consuming

  • Minority domination

  • Pressure to conform

  • Ambiguous responsibility

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Group Versus Individual Decision Making

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Group Decision Making and Group Size

  • Groups of five, and to a lesser extent, seven, are most effective.

  • Odd number helps to avoid deadlocks.

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Techniques for More Creative Decision Making

  • Brainstorming

    • Idea generating process that encourages alternatives while withholding criticism.

  • Nominal Group Technique

    • Each member writes down his or her ideas about the problem.

    • Each member presents one idea to the group until all ideas have been presented.

    • No discussion takes place until all ideas have been presented.

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Group Process: Conflict Management

  • Conflict—perceived differences that result in interference or opposition.

  • Human relations view of conflict

    • Natural and inevitable

    • Not necessarily negative

    • Potential to be a positive force

  • Interactionist view of conflict

    • Some conflict is necessary for optimal performance

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Interactionist View of Conflict

  • Functional conflicts—support a group’s goals and improve its performance.

  • Dysfunctional conflicts—prevent a group from achieving its goals.

  • Look at type of conflict to differentiate functional conflict from dysfunctional conflict.

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Types of Conflict

  • Task conflict—relates to content and goals of the work.

  • Relationship conflict—focuses on interpersonal relationships.

  • Process conflict—refers to how work gets done.

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Conflict Resolution Techniques


one’s own needs


an advantageous

solution for all



party giving up

something of value



placing another’s

needs above your own


from conflict





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Group Tasks

  • Complexity and interdependence of tasks influence the group’s effectiveness.

  • Simple tasks are routine and standardized.

  • Complex tasks tend to be novel.

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Turning Groups into Effective Teams

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Work Team

  • Groups whose members work intensely on a specific common goal using their positive synergy, individual and mutual accountability, and complementary skills.

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Types of Teams

  • Problem-solving team

  • Self-managed team

  • Cross-functional team

  • Virtual team

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Creating Effective Teams

  • Clear goals

  • Relevant skills

  • Mutual trust

  • Unified commitment

  • Good communication

  • Negotiating skills

  • Appropriate leadership

  • Internal and external support

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