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Groups in Organizations: Fads, Findings, Frontiers Robert Dipboye Rice University.

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Presentation on theme: "Groups in Organizations: Fads, Findings, Frontiers Robert Dipboye Rice University."— Presentation transcript:


2 Groups in Organizations: Fads, Findings, Frontiers Robert Dipboye Rice University

3 Fads: Teams were Once Ignored But Are Now “All the Rage” 1

4 A Recent “Nonscientific” Survey of Executives 5




8 What is This Thing Called “Group”?  “Groups are open and complex systems that interact with the smaller systems (I.e., the members) embedded within them and the larger systems (e.g., organizations) within which they are embedded. Groups have fuzzy boundaries that both distinguish them from and connect them to their members and their embedding contexts.”  Arrow, McGrath, and Berdahl, 2000, p. 34 6

9 What Are the Types of Groups?  Work groups u Task forces u Crews u Teams  Clubs u Economic clubs u Social clubs u Activity clubs 7

10 How Do Groups Perform? u Group Productivity = Group Potential - Process Loss  Ivan Steiner

11 Example From an Interview Study  Validity of interviewer 2: r (118) =.25, p <.01  Validity of panels: u With interviewer 2: r (118) =.24, p <.01 u Without interviewer 2: r (299) =.05, ns.

12 Why Might Groups Fail to Meet Their Potential?

13  Technical knowledge, skills, and abilities  Interpersonal knowledge, skills, and abilities Problems of KSAOs that Members Bring to Task

14  Groups are prone to jump immediately to solutions without defining the problem, setting objectives, generating alternatives, planning task strategies, or assessing the resources they can apply to the problem Problems of Group Strategy

15  Social loafing/free riding  Focused too much on self and not enough on task  Negative attitudes toward groups and lack of motivation to work in groups Problems of Member Motivation

16  Analyzed 61 estimates of effect of group heterogeneity on group performance  Overall correlation of.0758 (SER =.0149)  Evidence that task type and heterogeneity type moderated the relationship Meta-Analysis of the Effect of Group Heterogeneity on Group Performance

17 Findings for Personal Heterogeneity  Performance tasks: u r =.0186  Intellective tasks: u r =.1324  Decision making u r =.1269  Creative u r =.1660  Mixed motive u r =.1565

18 Findings for Technical Heterogeneity  Intellective tasks: u r =.0501  Decision making u r =  Creative u r =.1596

19 Size Moderated Effects of Heterogeneity  Large groups, technical heterogeneity: u r =.2961  Small groups, technical heterogeneity: u r =  Large groups, personal heterogeneity: u r =.0348  Small groups, personal heterogeneity u r =.0800

20 Heterogeneity and Top Management Team Performance  Firm performance and technical heterogeneity: u r =  Firm performance and personal heterogeneity: u r =  Firm creativity and technical heterogeneity: u r =.1185  Firm creativity and personal heterogeneity: u r =

21  Groups of three performed three tasks: history, sports, literature  Half groups spent about five minutes discussing and ranking the relative expertise of members: Expert Identification  Other half spent five minutes discussing why they came to Rice: No expert identification An Experimental Evaluation of a Simple Intervention to Improve Group Assessment of Resources

22  With expert identification u M = 5.19  Without expert identification u M = 4.82  F (1,58) = 4.12, p <.05 Effects of Expert Identification on Satisfaction of Group Members with Group’s Decision

23  With expert identification u M = 2.26 (range: -2 to +8)  Without expert identification u M =.84 (range: - 5 to +8)  F (1,58) = 5.29, p <.05 Effects of Expert Identification on Performance Gain of Group Over Potential Performance

24 An Experimental Evaluation of Holding Members Accountable

25 Participants were Assigned to One Cell of a 2 X 2 Factorial u Group vs Individual Condition: Believed they were part of a group or performed alone u High vs. Low accountability: Performance visibility and justification of the performance or anonymous performance and no justification

26  Task ability: High vs. low, participants above median were high task ability and those at or below the median were low task ability  Based on performance of the task prior to the experiment. A Third Measured Factor

27 Findings  Main effect of ability; high ability members performed better than low ability members (F (1,56) = 14.49, p <.001)  Main effect of accountability ;accountable members had higher performance (F(1,56) = 5.08, p <.05)  3 way interaction of ability X accountability X ind vs group (F(1, 56) = 6.21, p <.05).

28 Three Way Interaction Suggests Use of Accountability as a Means of Reducing Social Loafing  Evidence of social loafing when people felt they were part of a group  Accountability eliminated social loafing in high ability group and led to social facilitation effect  Accountability did not affect social loafing in low ability group

29 An Experimental Evaluation of Focusing Attention on Task vs. Focusing Attention on Self  Participants assigned to 3 to 5 person groups  Performed Desert Survival Problem alone on three different trials  After each trial members received feedback of their total performance on the task after trials 1 and 2  After receiving individual feedback the members met as a group to discuss their answers  Participants assigned to task or ego-involvement condition

30 Ego-Involvement:  We will evaluate you on the basis of your interactions in the group. Among the personal characteristics that we will assess are decision making ability, social skill, and general leadership capabilities….We are interested in how well you do relative to others in the group. Try to do as well as you can in your performance of the task and in the group sessions.

31 Task-Involvement  We know that everyone is capable of doing well on this task if they are given sufficient time and opportunity to learn. We will ask you to perform this task several times, and we would like you to improve your performance... How well you do relative to others is not important...we are mainly concerned with how you personally improve in your performance over trials…Try to improve your performance as much as you can.

32 Findings.. Same Effects Were Found at Individual and Group Levels.  Task-involved participants performed better than ego- involved participants and improved to a greater extent across trials (F(2,40) = 4.08, p <.024.

33  The proportion of ego-involved participants who derogated the feedback (.23) was larger than the proportion of task involved participants who derogated the feedback (.02),  2 (1, 20) = 9.51, p <.01. Derogation of Feedback

34 Relationship of Perceived and Actual Performance  There was a statistically significant relationship between perceived and actual performance for task-involved participants (r (47) =.377, p <.01) but not for ego-involved participants (r(47) =.067, p <.70).

35 Satisfaction with Performance  “How satisfied would you be if you personally attained the same level of performance in the next session?” u Task-involved participants said they would be less satisfied (M = 2.94) than ego- involved participants (M = 3.60), F(1,20) = 7.89, p <.05.

36  Interaction of goal-orientation and performance (F (1,81) = 3.88, p <.05).  Good performers talked a larger proportion of time (M =.29) than poor performers (M =.20) in task-involved conditions.  Poor performers talked about the same (M =.25) as good performers (M =.22) in the ego- involved conditions. Time Spent Talking

37 Are These Process - Performance Linkages Limited to the Lab?

38  “Former theories may have been adequate for simple laboratory tasks, they are not adequate for the more complex, interdependent tasks in the organization….Group leaders may be focusing on internal variables like cohesiveness when they should be allocating more time to negotiating favorable objectives or promoting group outputs to top management.”  Gladstein, ASQ, 1984

39 Limitations of Previous Field Research on Process - Performance Linkages  The measure of group performance is often far removed from group process  Performance measures are often subjective  Group size in some studies is very small  Very little attention to possible moderating influence of group size… more often seen as a nuisance variable

40  Conducted with groups involved in an employee involvement program in a large utility  Objective of EIP was to generate ideas to improve productivity and reduce costs  Over 60 groups were formed and were trained in group problem solving A Field Exploration that Improved on these Neglects

41 Variables Measured with Questionnaire  Internal Group Process: 35 items - strategy, effort, utilization, etc.  Success/Satisfaction: 10 items - self-perceived success, potency  Personal Benefits: 6 items - member evaluations of personal benefits from group  Management support: 4 items - support of group’s efforts

42  Group size: 56 groups ranging in size from  Functional area of group: line vs. support  Number of approved ideas: ideas were approved by management at the end of the yearafter the survey was completed  Technical Heterogeneity: diversity of functional representation in the group Other Variables

43 Return Rate  383 of 448 group members surveyed returned questionnaire for an 85% return rate  56 of 59 groups surveyed returned questionnaires for a 94% return rate

44 Regression of the Number of Approved Ideas on  Group size  Technical Heterogeneity  Perceived Management Support  Perceived Personal Benefits of Group Participation  Internal Group Process

45 R square =.3693, p <.001  Group size: Beta =.2413, p <.10  Heterogeneity: Beta =.3987**, p <.01  Perceived management support: Beta = , ns  Perceived personal benefits: Beta = *, p <.05  Internal group process: Beta =.2024, ns

46 Group Size Moderated the Relation of Process to Productivity  The product of internal process and size was added at the sixth and last step of the above regression Rsquare =.4172, p <.001  Beta for product of internal process and size: Beta = *, p <.05.

47  The number of approved ideas generated increased with improved internal process to a much greater extent in larger groups  Correlation of internal process with number of approved ideas was r =.53 (p<.01) in large groups; r =.12 (ns) in small groups. Interpretation of this moderating effect

48  Personal Benefits to Productivity  Management Support to Productivity Group Size Also Moderated the Relation of

49  As Group Size increased, the perceived benefits of the group was more strongly predictive of group productivity  As Group Size increased, the perceived management support was more strongly predictive of group productivity The Nature of the Moderating Effects was Similar to that Found for Internal Process

50  Fads…  Findings...  Frontiers… Conclusions

51 Fads  They are annoying but can be a source of knowledge and insight  We need research of all types to determine whether there is substance underlying what’s currently hot.

52  Group Process matters in predicting performance but perhaps not as much as perceived personal benefits  Greater technical heterogeneity of the group is conducive to higher group productivity  Group size is a crucial moderator of the effects of process, perceived benefits, and perceived management support Findings

53  Taking seriously the fact that groups are systems  Identifying, measuring, and understanding group types and the types of group tasks and tools  The relationship is the ground, all else is figure. Frontiers of Group Research

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