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Are Cohesive Groups More Effective in Organisations?

Are Cohesive Groups More Effective in Organisations?

Intuitively, it makes sense that groups that experience a lot of internal disagreement and lack of cooperation are less effective than are groups in which individuals generally agree, cooperate, and like each other. Research has looked at group cohesiveness, the degree to which members are attracted to one another and share the group’s goals. The more that members are attracted to one another and the more that a group’s goals align with each in- dividual’s goals, the greater the group’s cohesiveness.

Previous research has generally shown that highly cohesive groups are more effec- tive than are those with less cohesiveness, but the relationship between cohesiveness and effectiveness is more complex.10 A key moderating variable is the degree to which the group’s attitude aligns with its formal goals or those of the larger organization.11

The more cohesive a group is, the more its members will follow its goals. If these goals are favorable (for instance, high output, quality work, cooperation with individuals out- side the group), a cohesive group is more productive than a less cohesive group. But if cohesiveness is high and attitudes are unfavorable, productivity decreases. If cohesive- ness is low and goals are supported, productivity increases, but not as much as when both cohesiveness and support are high. When cohesiveness is low and goals are not supported, cohesiveness has no significant effect on productivity. These conclusions are summarized in Exhibit 9-4.

How Are Groups Turned into Effective Teams? When companies like W. L. Gore, Volvo, and Kraft Foods introduced teams into their production processes, it made news because no one else was doing it. Today, it’s just the opposite—the organization that doesn’t use teams would be newsworthy. It’s estimated that some 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies have at least half of their employees on teams.

And over 70 percent of U.S. manufacturers use work teams.12 Teams are likely to continue to be popular. Why? Research suggests that teams typi-

cally outperform individuals when the tasks being done require multiple skills, judgment, and experience.13 Organizations are using team-based structures

because they’ve found that teams are more flexible and responsive to changing events than are traditional departments or other permanent work groups. Teams have the abil- ity to quickly assemble, deploy, refocus, and disband. In this section, we’ll discuss what a work team is, the different types of teams that organizations might use, and how to develop and manage work teams.


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