Final Paper
In Week One, you will choose a generic organization (manufacturing plant.). Assume that you are a hired consultant for this organization. You have been asked by the president of the organization to prepare a background paper on the results of your research and to make recommendations to improve group productivity in the organization.
Your research has identified the following problems:
•Role conflicts within groups
•Communication problems among group members
•Lack of cohesiveness in groups with diverse members
•Excessive intergroup conflict
In an eight- to ten-page paper, include the following:
•Introduction – clear explanation of the type of organization
•Explanation of how each problem could impact a group’s productivity (use examples to illustrate points)
•Recommendations to resolve each problem
•Suggestions, based on your knowledge of group dynamics, for a company-wide training program on best practices for group productivity
Writing the Final Paper
The Final Paper:
•Must be eight to ten double-spaced pages in length, and formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center.
•Must include a title page with the following:◦Title of paper
◦Student’s name
◦Course name and number
◦Instructor’s name
◦Date submitted
•Must begin with an introductory paragraph that has a succinct thesis statement.
•Must address the topic of the paper with critical thought.
•Must end with a conclusion that reaffirms your thesis.
•Must document all sources in APA style, as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center.
•Must include a separate reference page, formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center.
•Must use at least six scholarly sources.6
Group Cohesiveness
Learning Objectives
What We Will Be Investigating
• What are some of the ways members of groups identify with each other?
• What helps foster the effectiveness of teams?
• What are some of the obstacles to groups working well together?
• What specific differences are there between a mere group and a genuine team?
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Chapter Outline
6.1 Togetherness
Interpersonal Factors
Structural Factors
Organizational Factors
6.3 Cohesion Outcomes: “The Good Stuff”
6.2 Teams
Ways to Foster Team Cohesion
Detriments to Team Cohesion
6.4 Cohesion Outcomes: “The Bad Stuff”
Pluralistic Ignorance
Scapegoating and Aggression
Cohesion and Productivity: Another Look
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together
is progress. Working together is success.”
—Henry Ford
Before we begin to examine causes and consequences of group cohesion, let’s consider the
following questions:

What has been your most stellar group experience?
What were the qualities or events that made it such a good experience?
What has been a negative group experience you’ve had?
What were the qualities or events that made it a negative experience?
Was there anything that could have been done to improve that experience?
It’s very likely that the quality of the interpersonal relations that you had with other members, the attraction you had to the group itself, or the efforts made by the larger organization to make the group attractive to you played important roles in your overall assessment
of your group experience.
Cohesion has probably been studied more than any other feature of group dynamics.
Recall from Chapter 5 that group cohesion is defined as the degree to which a group exists
or operates as a unified entity. This definition can refer to attraction to the other group
members and to the larger collectivity itself. In this chapter, we examine the many causes
of group cohesiveness as well as several outcomes of belonging to a cohesive group. We
start by looking at togetherness and the three primary factors associated with it. Then the
focus turns to the dynamics of teams. The chapter concludes with a closer look at the pros,
as well as the cons, of cohesion.
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6.1 Togetherness
There are positive and negative examples of togetherness. First we’ll discuss negative
examples to help illustrate that togetherness can occur in all types of group contexts—
good, bad, and traumatic. During World War II, the German army, or Wehrmacht, was
famous for its national and internal loyalty. Even when outnumbered and outarmed by
Allied Forces, ill fed and in rags, German soldier brigades often literally fought to the last
man without surrender. Japanese pilots in World War II deliberately crashed their planes
into enemy targets, committing suicide in the process (Janowitz, 1948). More recently,
followers of the Reverend Jim Jones first trailed their leader to Guyana, and then committed mass suicide at his apparent request. Several years later, Heaven’s Gate commune
members committed mass suicide in California, apparently believing that space aliens
would whisk them away in the process. Even more recently, suicide bombers have killed
thousands of people (including, obviously enough, themselves). Worldwide, there are
hundreds, maybe even thousands, of young persons who are apparently willing to die for
their cause, including jihad. Such willingness to sacrifice everything, including one’s life,
for the larger collectivity demands our attention.
But what builds and nourishes this kind of loyalty? Many would argue that members of
highly cohesive groups are more willing to sacrifice for the sake of the collectivity, even
if it means their lives. Thus, this chapter combines the earlier material on attraction to
groups with research on cohesiveness to examine several of the determinants and outcomes of group cohesion.
There’s a special something about a group that functions well together. Yet you may recall
that attempts to define cohesion frequently break down into either vague or overly restrictive terms. Part of the problem is failing to consider the many dimensions of group cohesion. What makes up the group is a significant factor in how that group does its work.
Indeed, the very transition from a mere group to a genuine team can often be the result of
the characteristics of those who make up the group. At the same time, the goals of a group,
and its success in meeting those goals, provides another way of evaluating its performance
and effectiveness. And these
are just two important factors to consider in evaluating
how well a group performs
its functions. A unified sports
team is not a neighborhood
after-school friendship group.
Different bases for group
cohesion depend on the type
of group and on the resources
that the group and members
can offer one another. Similarly, the dimension of cohesion that may work well for
one type of task (providing
Working together as a unified team is often the cornerstone of
success in business, academics, sports, and indeed any context. emotional support in a drug
recovery group) may work
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Section 6.1 Togetherness
poorly in another (assembling a car in a garage). This chapter will start by explaining the
three main factors of togetherness: interpersonal, structural, and organizational.
Interpersonal Factors
There are several possible sources of group cohesion. Some sources are more interpersonal, while others are structural in nature. Of course, more than one source can operate
simultaneously for a particular group.
Interpersonal sources of group cohesion depend on the characteristics of individual
members. The group is cohesive because members like and are attracted to one another.
Some major sources include member similarity and member attractiveness.
Member similarity, which is probably the number one factor in interpersonal attraction
(Chapter 5), includes demographic factors, such as age and gender; similarity in attitudes,
such as values and beliefs; and situational similarity, such as travelers in a foreign country
or employees in danger of being laid off or fired.
Member attractiveness is an interpersonal resource that can induce group cohesion. It is
very often characteristic of an informal group because informal groups frequently have
Management Connections
Diversity and Cohesion
Most research studies, especially laboratory experiments that examine the influence of member characteristics
on interpersonal ties, use groups of strangers. Other “members” of these experimental groups can immediately
know information about these individuals only from superficial observation or because the experimenters provide
selected, often bogus information about them.
(See McGrath, 1984.)
How do you think the results might differ if we
studied intact groups instead? Might an oral history of the group or a longitudinal, natural setting
design such as Newcomb’s scholarship house for
students (Chapter 4) yield different data?
Consider a small company of 30 or so employees:
25 are male, five are female. Two of the women are
Latinas, two of the males are African American, and
the rest are White. A new manager is employed,
who is a Chinese American female. What characteristics might the new manager have that provides
some common ground with the other employees? What characteristics might be seen by some
employees as obstacles to the group’s cohesion?
What kind of strategies might the owner of the
company develop to help the new manager feel
part of the group, and as adding to group cohesion,
rather than subtracting from it?
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Diversity adds tremendous value in terms of
achieving a company’s goals. But bringing
diverse backgrounds and perspectives together
in a cohesive, focused way also can create challenges for those in leadership positions.
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Section 6.1 Togetherness
more limited structural resources that they can use to recruit appealing members. Interpersonal attraction can come from various sources. The prestige or social class of individual
members (irrespective of the status of the group itself), member physical attractiveness,
and supportive warm personalities of members can all be attractive forces.
Structural Factors
A large company can only do so much about the personal characteristics of the people
who work there and the effects those characteristics may have within the company. However, large companies do typically have control over all kinds of structural properties,
from salary schedules to attractive physical décor. For example, someone may wish to
work at IBM because it produces a well-known product and has a good reputation for
treating its employees well, irrespective of what the other workers may be like. Structural
sources of cohesion refer to properties in the group’s physical or social environment or
regular, systematic rewards that a group can offer to its members. Structural sources of
cohesion center more around attraction to the group itself or aspects related to group tasks
than they do around the positive characteristics of individual members as is the case with
interpersonal sources of cohesion. Structural cohesion thus is usually more apparent in
formal than in informal groups.
One very basic structural element of cohesion is propinquity, or spatial proximity to others. This can be an important structural property because people interact more with individuals who are next to them, regardless of how they feel towards those individuals. By
seeing the same people in the elevator every day, standing in line in the cafeteria with the
same individuals, or always being seated next to the same person in a training workshop,
those persons become familiar to us. Other things equal, Zajonc (2000) found that we like
familiar objects, even familiar nonsense syllables, better than unfamiliar ones. There is,
presumably, sufficient stress within a workplace already, due to deadlines, production
schedules, meetings, and other work-related obligations. Familiarity can help with this
Business in the Real World
Fostering Teamwork
Consider a job you have had, or a job you currently have. How many of the people with whom you work do you
know well? Do you know the names of their spouses and children? Do you know what they do for fun, or where
they went on vacation? Have you ever been to their house, or they to yours? Have you gone out with them after
work? On the weekend?
Are there people you see every day at work you don’t have any interaction with other than to say hello? What, if
anything, characterizes generally those you do know well? What, if anything, characterizes generally those you do
not know well?
What kinds of things might you do to increase your interaction with fellow workers, particularly with those you do
not know very well? Is such interaction an important goal? How can it improve your work environment? How can
it improve the other person’s work environment? How can it help improve the effectiveness of the company for
which you work?
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Section 6.1 Togetherness
stress. Simply put, we are more comfortable with those things we are more used to. In
time, we may come to enjoy the unfamiliar thing—we may even enjoy it a great deal more
than the familiar—but given the alternatives of the familiar and the unfamiliar, most of us
gravitate toward that to which we are accustomed.
Emotional and Physical Arousal
Group leaders generally have more potential power to influence structural sources of
cohesion than they do interpersonal sources. Leaders can generate creative and appealing group tasks or engender a group enemy. They may have a budget to improve the
group’s immediate physical surroundings. The group may have rewards, such as a raise
or promotion, that it can distribute to loyal members. Structural sources of cohesion may
emphasize collective or group identity. Some possible bases that can help create structural
cohesion are to follow. Businesses may be able to unobtrusively manipulate several of
these bases to facilitate team spirit.
Various forms of arousal can generate group cohesiveness. Emotional arousal and
its physiological components, such as heightened heart rate or blood pressure, tend to
strengthen affiliative needs. On a structural level, group symbols, spirited music, or even
bright colors may increase emotional arousal among members. A company may expect
its employees to wear a uniform, or at least a badge, identifying them as members of
the company. Some American companies, following a practice more traditional in Japan,
start the workday with a set of exercises, done as a group. These are examples of the
kind of thing companies can do to provide a positive emotional aspect for employees. On
the other hand, a frightening experience, including a scary movie or a potential takeover
by another company, can provide a negative emotional arousal that is also conducive to
group unity. A common enemy can increase emotional arousal too, and sometimes group
leaders can use this basis as a way to foster greater group cohesion. As noted in an article
profiling Jim Sinegal, chief executive of Costco, on Costco’s chief competitor Wal-Mart:
“There is little love lost between Wal-Mart and Costco. Wal-Mart, for example, boasts that
its Sam’s Club division has the lowest prices of any retailer. Mr. Sinegal emphatically dismissed that assertion with a one-word barnyard epithet” (Greenhouse, 2005, para. 28). No
doubt Sinegal’s attitude is well-known to, and quite possibly shared by, his employees.
On the other hand, slight overcrowding, which, among other things raises temperature,
can increase physical arousal. An extreme example of this might be found among the first
responders to the 9/11 terrorist attack. In extremely dangerous conditions, people who
were, in many cases, total strangers worked effectively together. The physical closeness and
the shared danger certainly contributed to their cohesiveness. In less dire circumstances,
however, managers need to be mindful of not creating such a condition among employees
so as not to inadvertently strain cohesion; striking the balance between employees feeling
too crowded and feeling too isolated presents a challenge to an effective manager.
Common group goals are another way to increase structural cohesion in a group. Common goals typically occur when official group goals coincide with goals that most of the
membership holds. For example, a class wants to win the joint science fair project or a
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sales team wants to set a new district record. Achieving group goals generates a sense of
accomplishment. All else equal, people are more satisfied with membership in successful
than in unsuccessful groups (Seta & Seta, 1996). If group goals are also very attractive to
aspiring members, a group may use its goal achievements to appeal to new recruits.
In Chapter 10, we’ll learn more about the camp experiences that Muzafer Sherif and his
colleagues (Sherif et al., 1988) created that brought two teams of boys to continuing conflict as sworn enemies. In Sherif’s studies, only the engineered construction of goals that
required the groups to cooperate with each other in order to repair the camp truck or fix
the camp water tower got the two groups talking and working together.
Group goals may include defeating a common enemy, or a common enemy may arise after
individuals have been members for some time. Neighborhood youth gangs and college or
business rivalries remind us that enemies can occur (or can be created) in both formal and
informal groups. Research (Castano & Serone, 2002) shows that the presence of a group
enemy strengthens in-group identification and makes that collective identity more salient
to members. The increased arousal in the group motivate them to more goal-oriented
You are probably familiar with companies identifying their main competition as such an
enemy; indeed, some companies (consider Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Verizon and AT&T, or
Direct TV and Dish Network) make that identification as part of their marketing campaign. If a company advertises that its product is superior to a competing product, it is
safe to assume that this claim functions to organize and unify employees to help “defeat”
their common enemy.
For the last 10 years, at different times Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives and in the Senate have shared the common goal of capturing Osama bin Laden.
Often the members of the two political parties are at odds with one another and have
very different goals. Capturing Osama bin Laden was a unifying goal. In 2011, a U.S.
special forces military unit captured Osama bin Laden. Both Republicans and Democrats
in Congress and in the rest
of the United States had
positive feelings about the
A common enemy can increase emotional arousal. Group
leaders can use this arousal to foster greater group cohesion.
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Interdependent goals in
particular can join a group
together. When group goals
are interdependent, this typically implies a specialized
division of labor. Each member must be able to perform
his or her unique assigned
task in the correct sequence
in order for the group to
complete its assignment. For
example, when he was on the
faculty of University of Texas,
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Section 6.1 Togetherness
Eliot Aronson (with Patnoe, 1997) created the “jigsaw puzzle classroom” in order to ensure
that all public school students, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or ability level, were included
in classroom problem solving. Each student had to share his or her unique information in
order for the class to complete the task.
Shared Identity
A group is also in a position to emphasize a shared identity. Shared identity has an influence on behavior and individual identity. For example, college students who identified
highly with their university and read a statement evaluating their university badly in
comparison to a rival university showed a decrease in self-esteem and an increase in
favoritism toward their university. A bias toward their own university related to a later
rise in self-esteem (Smurda, Wittig, & Gokalp, 2006). Avis, the second largest car-rental
company at the time, used its threatened identity as a sales tool. Avis used the slogan “We
Try Harder,” suggesting that employees had to work together to challenge leader Hertz.
Groups that emphasize group cohesion often have resources to offer to members such as
incentives to keep them in the group and to attract new potential associates. These structural incentives can include

Prestige or social status.
Material resources, including money.
Knowledge and skill. The specialized skills that members can offer one another.
Historical appeal. The college with attractive old buildings and a reputation in
folklore and the legendary company whose brand is immediately and positively
recognizable, such as Coca-Cola, are prominent examples of historic appeal. The
recognition factor alone can mean these entities have an easier time attracting students or employees.
• Opportunity. The group may give the individual the chance to share, develop, or
demonstrate a special skill. Perhaps the company provides unique training opportunities or a showcase for the member’s achievements.
• Food/comfort. As a short-term measure, serving food can promote group cohesion.
Members generally are more satisfied when they are fed.
• Security. Financial and sometimes emotional security often provides a comfort
zone that promotes group cohesion.
Organizational Factors
Finally, organizational factors affect cohesion. A group may be part of a larger formal
organization or it may exist as an entire formal organization on its own. Although an individual’s feelings about group members in general may be neutral or even hostile rather
than positive, the formal organization in which the group is embedded can be very attractive. This continues to focus our attention on what the group itself (rather than individual
members) can offer as opposed to interpersonal attraction. As you recall from Chapter 3,
because of their history, formal organizations frequently can offer members resources of
various kinds that a more informal group cannot.
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Section 6.1 Togetherness
Many people join an organization because it has high status or prestige. As noted above,
certain companies may have cachet because they produce or sell high-status merchandise,
such as Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue. The members of a particular social club
may be highly educated or hold prestigious jobs. In addition to status or prestige, a group
may appear to have sufficient power in its environment that joining it suggests that the
group will help advance individual goals. For example, the Harvard graduate is confident
she will find a good job; the Microsoft executive feels secure that he will be approved for a
home mortgage. Organizations that have considerable resources often may be persuaded
to share some of these with new recruits.
The display of tradition and pageantry that an organization can support frequently attract
members. School songs, fraternity symbols, or time-honored religious liturgy are examples of symbols that can contribute to a sense of collective identity, make a group more
attractive to potential members, and thereby instill pride in current members. Likewise,
a company’s headquarters in a thriving downtown metropolis or office space on the top
floors of a beautiful building may serve as a sign of its power and prestige and therefore
serve as an attraction to employees. People enjoy the prestige of being associated with
a successful company; this feature, naturally, helps attract good employees. A well-run
and highly regarded organization thus generates something of a feedback mechanism: A
high-quality organization attracts high-quality employees, who contribute to the kind of
success that will allow the organization to continue to attract that kind of employee.
A large formal organization will also create and maintain smaller groups within it, preferably subgroups composed of individuals who share a variety of commonalities. Recall that
people are more satisfied with their membership in smaller than in larger groups. Then,
this astute company will directly tie these smaller groups to the larger organization to create a network of interlocking loyalties. Thus, the individual becomes not only committed
to the immediate subgroup in
which he or she is located, but
comes to feel a kinship with
the larger school, the company, or the neighborhood
(see also Lawler, 2008).
For example, research conducted on religious congregations (Losh, 1992) found
that socioemotional support
groups formed there gathered
together people who were
initially strangers but who
had common interests. For
example, they were all young
mothers or they were all interested in Bible study. In this
way, the congregation created
new social ties among parishioners, which fostered the
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The location of an organization can serve as a powerful
force in attracting workers. The allure of being located in a
major city, for example, may be one of a company’s biggest
recruiting tools.
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Section 6.1 Togetherness
overall cohesion of the entire congregation. In contrast, congregations that were characterized by high levels of informal verbal interaction tended to form cliques. Clique members
continually reinforced their relations with one another but did not tend to reach out to new
members and did not create ties with other congregational subgroups.
The degree to which organizational cohesion was found to contribute to a congregation’s
moving toward its goal was impressive. Congregations with greater numbers of support groups also created more ties with other congregations, regardless of denomination.
Groups enmeshed in a network with other churches and synagogues engaged more often
in organized social and political action, such as establishing a homeless shelter, an organization that provided emergency health care, or a series of interfaith celebration services.
In contrast, high levels of social interaction were unrelated to congregational insularity or
to any kind of organized social and political action. It is as if the skills used to build and
maintain support groups—or the skills learned through participation in such groups—
generalize to other types of organization-building skills, making these congregations
more effective.
Many start-up businesses also feature this kind of skill development. A company that
starts with just a few, very committed people requires long hours, a fair amount of risk,
and sacrificing time spent with family and friends. As new employees are introduced
into the organization, they need to develop the kind of skills that allow them to become
integrated into this sort of work environment. At the same time, the original employees
(often the owners) of the company cannot rely on their intimate interpersonal understanding of each other that was there at the start of the company. Consequently, new interpersonal skills are demanded from both those who helped start the company and from those
needed to help the company develop and grow. A well-known example of this kind of
situation is Apple Inc.; Microsoft is another celebrated example.
In organizations it is possible to establish a state of cohesion in departments, work pods,
or throughout the company. The first place that cohesion can begin is in training. Often
employers train new employees in groups. Goals are set for training. The goals are discussed with the trainees. The trainees discuss the goals with one another and check on
each other’s progress toward achieving the goals.
More cohesion can be obtained as the company grows and groups of employees establish longevity and have more shared experiences. Thus time together, shared experiences,
shared meanings from shared experiences, and propinquity, or spatial proximity to other
employees, can combine to create a very strong state of cohesion. This can be true not only
for employees but also for the families of those employees. Family members attend company parties, picnics, and celebrations and, over time, form bonds.
In the popular cable television show Army Wives, the wives and husbands of military
members share pregnancies, childrearing, schooling, victories, homecomings, and losses.
These common experiences help them to experience cohesion much like what their
spouses experience within their military units. There are, of course, a number of such
situations, where common challenges, similar problems, and various other shared experiences generate this kind of cohesion among a group of people who might otherwise not
recognize that they even form a coherent group.
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Section 6.2 Teams
6.2 Teams
What are some of the factors that distinguish a team from a group? What fosters team
unity? What is detrimental to team unity? This section looks closer at each dynamic.
It is important to recognize that there are significant differences between groups and
teams. All teams are groups, but not all groups are teams. An effective manager will need
to develop effective procedures to make her groups and subgroups of employees become
teams. As standardly understood, a group is a relatively small number of people who
have various skills—ideally skills that complement each other—and are committed to a
set of goals specified by an identified leader (such as the boss). A team is also a relatively
small group of people, but one whose complementary skills are geared toward a common
goal, and whose members hold each other accountable for helping reach that goal. The
following table helps bring out the difference here:
Table 6.1: Comparing groups and teams
Small group of people
Small group of people
Possesses complementary skills and abilities
Possesses complementary skills and abilities
Committed to leader’s goal
Committed to a common goal
Held accountable to leader
Hold each other accountable
Leadership held by one person
Shared leadership
Single viewpoint dominates
Diverse viewpoints shared
This is not to say that teams are better than groups (or that groups are better than teams).
It depends on what the collection of people seeks to accomplish. Are shared responsibility
and hearing a multiplicity of views important goals? If so, the team concept seems to be
the better approach. On the other hand, if the goal is to accomplish a specific task that has
already been established, and the responsibility clearly falls on just one person, the group
may be more appropriate. How people work together, and the structure of that work, is
often a function of what that group needs to accomplish and what the best way to accomplish it is.
Ways to Foster Team Cohesion
Very often, a team shares a mental model of the team goals and the steps that are needed
to accomplish them (e.g. Hu & Liden, 2011; Mehta, 2009). This shared vision provides a
roadmap and a set of directions that team members endorse and it can help boost team
One way in which a successful team can differ from a group in general is in the collective
behaviors that members must master and display in order for the team to operate effectively. On-site team member training with the intact group is typically the most effective.
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Section 6.2 Teams
Although challenge activities, such as Outward Bound activities or whitewater rafting,
may seem intuitively useful and can be fun for participants, such planned activities typically do not increase team productivity (Jones & Oswick, 2007). As part of training in team
skills, it is more important for members to learn to discard “bad habits” that may have
carried over from earlier group experiences than to share exciting adventures.
One of the advantages of the team concept—in contrast to the group concept—is that
members of the team take responsibility for problems that arise: Rather than reporting
some type of problem of conflict to a superior, team members will address those involved
in the conflict directly, and attempt to resolve it within the team structure.
Detriments to Team Cohesion
Highly competitive behaviors internal to the group can destroy team unity. Consider two
very competitive agents working for a large real estate firm. In aggressively pursuing
sales against each other, they may end up doing damage to the firm and its reputation.
Furthermore, the temptation to violate moral and even legal principles becomes greater
within such a competitive environment. And finally, this kind of competitiveness can harm
morale in the work place, making it ultimately a less productive environment. A manager,
of course, does not want employees to lose their aggressiveness, but needs to understand
how to channel it appropriately, to generate a more cohesive and, consequently, effective workplace. When members of a group begin to recognize that all of its members do
better when they work together—and when managers identify ways of helping employees make
that recognition—the group starts functioning
as a team. Such a team can lead to greater results
precisely by developing cooperation rather than
Social loafing, in which some members contribute little but take at least their share of collective
rewards, can damage team motivation. If some
employees come in late, take a longer lunch break,
and leave earlier than others, but still expect to be
paid the same, this attitude may infect the others
as well. Group moral can plummet and productivity will drop along with it.
Social loafers can damage group
morale and thereby diminish group
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A judgmental, intolerant atmosphere or members
who are difficult to work with can also impede
team functioning. An environment that makes
some members feel uncomfortable prevents them
from fully participating in the group; if their skills
are necessary for the group, this lessens the ability of the group to function as well as it can. Most
teams work better when mutual respect is shown
among all the team members, and when that
respect is lacking, the work environment suffers.
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Section 6.3 Cohesion Outcomes: “The Good Stuff”
In terms of structural components, a system that rewards individual standouts or “stars”
can undermine team spirit and makes members less likely to want to cooperate. For example, giving a raise to the top salesperson in a computer components division, but neglecting to reward the office and support staff that made that star performance possible, will
make many team members angry and less likely to provide stellar support in the future.
Without staunch background support, the star may no longer appear so outstanding.
Teams tell us a lot about how a group of people can come together in a cohesive and productive way (although, of course, there are no guarantees here). For example, are team
goals compatible with those of the larger group? If so, cohesive teams can top the list on
productivity. If team goals are opposed to those of the larger organization—for example,
if team members believe their company does not treat them equitably—they may emphasize social relations over task completion. In such cases cohesive teams can be the least
productive of all.
6.3 Cohesion Outcomes: “The Good Stuff”
Because companies believe that group cohesion creates a more congenial and productive
workforce, many encourage positive social relations among their employees. They may
hold group picnics or holiday parties with the hope of creating team spirit. Moreover, larger
divisions within a company often splinter into smaller, friendly subgroups, frequently
along the lines of geographic layout, such as building floors or wings, or disciplinary similarities, such as subgroups of engineers or marketers. Social relations among these discipline or geographic subgroups are commonly very cordial too. As long as norms in these
larger and smaller groups solidly align with the norms of the larger company, attempts
to foster social togetherness are worthwhile because in such cases, cohesive teams will
out-produce less cohesive collectivities. On balance, recent analyses using a statistically
sophisticated technique called meta analysis, in which the results from several independent studies are analyzed together, do suggest that in general cohesive groups are more
productive than the average group (Evans & Dion, 1991). There are several reasons why
this may be so.
There are many possible positive outcomes of high group cohesion. For example, group
members definitely have higher satisfaction in cohesive groups (Dobbins & Zaccaro,
1986). Members choose to remain in cohesive groups longer than in less cohesive groups
when a choice is available (Dobbins & Zaccaro, 1986). This is important news for companies that wish to lower expensive turnover or for school districts that want to minimize
teacher attrition.
Members of cohesive groups less often report feeling lonely or isolated (Toseland & Rivas,
2005). Cohesive groups appear to provide a buffer against stress and thus may improve
individual mental and physical health. Collective identity is stronger in more cohesive
groups than in less cohesive groups too (Dobbins & Zaccaro, 1986; Toseland & Rivas,
2005). It is unclear which dimensions of cohesion—interpersonal, structural, or organizational—are responsible for many of these positive outcomes. The increases in feelings of
security and attachment among members suggest that the dimension of interpersonal ties
plays an important role here.
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Section 6.3 Cohesion Outcomes: “The Good Stuff”
If a group is cohesive and its norms align with the larger organization, that group tends to be
productive. The critical question is: How can companies achieve this winning combination?
Research on influence and persuasion (Cialdini, 1998) indicates that if groups are allowed
some choice in setting their own goals, their commitment to the organization is higher
than if decisions are made top-down about group tasks. Providing input also raises a
group’s commitment to the larger collectivity. When Marathon Oil rebranded, for
instance, employees were consulted about the new logo’s appearance and what it stood
for. This engages these employees in such a way that they have a stake in that brand and,
of course, its success. Marathon not only demonstrated that it cared what its workers
thought, it recognized that the perspective of those workers was a resource of considerable value.
Including representatives of groups in decision making for the entire organization also
builds commitment. It is important to note that group representation and input must
be genuine, and more than simply token. Group representatives must be taken seriously by upper management and must exercise at least some control over decisions
for this kind of participation to work. For instance, upper management may ask its
employees for suggestions about how to save energy in its various operations. Taking those suggestions seriously, and implementing those that are genuinely valuable,
shows employees that they are taken seriously (as well as saves the company energy
costs). Ignoring those suggestions—particularly very good ones—tells employees that
regardless of how valuable their input might be, they will not be listened to, again leading to a more negative attitude among those employees. The next time management
asks for input, its workers may regard the request as mere lip service, and may well
not take it seriously.
Large companies may have many departments such as marketing, advertising, accounting, shipping and receiving, manufacturing, human resources, and strategic planning.
Upper management may decide to allow each department to have more authority and
responsibility for creating budgets, hiring personnel, designing workflow, and acquiring
and allocating resources. In allowing more autonomy within these departments on an
organizational level, management might be able to foster higher levels of cohesion and
greater outcomes.
We might take a midsize tool-making company as an example. Subgroups in this company include those responsible for tool production, tool improvement, research and
development of new products, shipping, accounting, and others. Effectively organized,
each group becomes a team when it is given a large amount of responsibility for its individual operations. As a team, it has a stake in its efficiency and productivity, and shares in
the rewards it receives as a result of its success. This gives each member of the team a stake
in the product and in the both the team and the larger organization, leading to a better
work environment and, quite possibly, a more successful company overall.
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Section 6.4 Cohesion Outcomes: “The Bad Stuff”
Highly cohesive groups can enforce group norms—whatever they may be—far more effectively than less cohesive groups. Individual internal pressures to conform are greater in very
cohesive groups (Reilly, 2001). Because people value their membership in these groups, they
are willing to adjust their behaviors to group standards. Even if there is initial “storming”
and conflict (Tuckman, 1965), if the group “gels,” a “norming” period follows and members
conform. However, external pressures from the group on the individual are greater too. Cohesive groups put more pressure on deviants to conform to group norms than less cohesive
groups do. We can see this from early on in grade school, by peer pressure on what to wear,
what to eat, who to develop friendships with, and so on. A “tight” group may well exclude
anyone who doesn’t conform to its standards. While the criteria involved may become more
subtle and more sophisticated among adults, the logic of the situation can be quite similar.
Individual identity may be more stifled and restricted in highly cohesive groups. Because
members are typically closer to one another, they may feel an investment in how you look,
dress, or talk. If you try to change aspects of your personal identity—even in a positive
direction, such as becoming more physically fit—you may find to your surprise that other
group members ignore, criticize, or otherwise undermine your attempts at improvement.
This phenomenon is not unusual in families, youth peer groups, or businesses when
members lose weight, change their style of dress, or attend college for more education.
However, once again, if group goals are positive and benefit the larger organization, the
individual who conforms, even if initially uncomfortable about doing so, can benefit. But
as we will see, such conformity can also have significant drawbacks.
6.4 Cohesion Outcomes: “The Bad Stuff”
We already know that particular group goals may be damaging, even deadly, to individual members. Recall from the chapter introduction the loyal German soldiers, the Japanese pilots, and the followers of Jim Jones, who were willing to die for their country or
community. However, the processes of high group cohesion can have harmful effects,
even if the goals of the group are far from deadly.
Despite some very basic negative research findings (Friedman & Jacks, 1969) from as far
back as 50 years ago, there is still a persistent tendency for researchers, coaches, and companies to see the outcomes of group cohesion as almost entirely constructive. It is not clear
why such a positive bias around the concept of group cohesion occurs. Perhaps our own
personal experiences in cohesive groups blur our professional judgment. Perhaps when
positive outcomes occur, they are just so enriching that we overlook the less beneficial
effects of group cohesion. Despite these perceptual blinkers, negative effects of cohesion
are plentiful. Not only that, when the harmful effects of group cohesiveness occur, they
tend to be spectacularly bad.
It’s unfortunate, but almost certainly the identical dynamics that were described above
that produce many of the “good” outcomes in groups also produce the “bad” outcomes
in groups. The major culprits are the desire among group members to remain in the group
and to please one another. These attractions are what give groups an enhanced ability to
influence members and enforce conformity, for good or for ill.
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Section 6.4 Cohesion Outcomes: “The Bad Stuff”
Management Connections
Creating Cohesion
You are in charge of human resources for an engineering company in Georgia that has recently bought out a
small, but valuable, Mexican engineering firm. As part of the buyout arrangement, about a dozen upper-level
managers and 10 workers with a great deal of seniority will be moving to your Georgia office. Most speak English
well; some of them have no accent, some have a more noticeable accent.
Your company has approximately 100 employees, many of whom have worked for you for many years. Your
employees interact well, form a very cohesive group, and have very little conflict.
Your boss has told you that you will need to develop strategies and techniques to make sure the Mexican employees feel comfortable in the workplace, and feel part of the team as quickly as possible. In part, this is to make for
a more comfortable work environment; but these new employees have a great deal of experience and information that is a very valuable resource for your company to access and utilize.
How do you go about doing what your boss wants you to do? Name some specific strategies you might try to
make the new workers feel part of the team. How do you prevent them from detracting from the already-present
employee cohesiveness? How can you develop ways of making sure the new workers add to workplace unity?
What challenges do you foresee having to overcome, in order to satisfy your boss’s demands?
Pluralistic Ignorance
Because individuals want to be liked, to continue to belong, and to get along with other
members, cohesive groups can tend toward surface—sometimes superficial—harmony.
To avoid confrontation and other forms of ill will, members will publicly agree with each
other even when they privately disagree. This apparent accord can lead to a phenomenon
called pluralistic ignorance. Although a group majority may agree with them, the behavior of a vocal minority—with silence from the majority who disagree—means that those
taking what is in fact a majority position may feel outnumbered. Each member believes
that he or she is the lone, quiet dissenter in an otherwise unified collectivity. Group decisions may reflect these misperceptions, leading to decisions that end up rendering most
members silent but unhappy.
Scapegoating and Aggression
Even if a brave member dares to speak up in opposition, cohesive groups can be much crueler toward “deviants” than less unified groups. Scapegoating, hostility, and aggression
are more common and more severe toward deviants in higher cohesion groups. Indeed,
the tighter the group, the more likely those who do not fit the group’s criteria, will be
excluded. In this case, the unity of the group may function to prevent important critical
and dissenting voices from being heard; indeed, such voices may be omitted altogether.
This may well not be to the group’s advantage.
If they remain in the group, deviants tend to become isolated due to the actions of the
other members. One possibility, of course, is that the deviant changes his or her mind
toward the apparent majority opinion and will be welcomed as a “prodigal” (Schachter,
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Section 6.4 Cohesion Outcomes: “The Bad Stuff”
1951). However, deviants may also decide to leave the group (Curseu et al., 2011). When
group members are aware of severe sanctions toward deviants, they may engage in selfcensorship, either avoiding contentious topics entirely or carefully monitoring their verbal
responses. Self-censorship means the group will lose the advantages of potentially useful
For example, suppose a manufacturing team is heavily invested in terms of effort and
resources in a new project. Everyone speaks glowingly of the new product. However,
one of the more experienced designers realizes there are some critical flaws in its design.
Will she speak up? If the consequences of disagreement appear harsh, for example, social
isolation or even a lackluster annual evaluation, our designer may hesitate to make any
comments and the group loses the value of her expertise.
Irving Janis (1996) used the term groupthink to describe a process in which strong group
cohesion can lead to a cycle of bad decision making. Janis proposed that bad decisions
could occur when group members are exposed only to limited and one-sided information,
typically information that supports decisions the group has already decided to take. Due
to strong in-group cohesion, opposition to poor decisions from within may be effectively
stifled. Opposition from outside the group is never examined. Historic disasters such as
the 1986 explosion of the spaceship Challenger occur, leaving group members to shake
their heads, wondering what went wrong.
Janis explored several of the mechanisms he believes contribute to groupthink. The surface harmony resulting from strong cohesion and pluralistic ignorance, especially when
combined with perceptions of group enemies in the environment, can contribute to group
insularity or insulation. In insular groups, members tend to interact primarily with each
other and they avoid cross-group contacts. Once an imposed apparent group homogeneity emerges, the group has closed itself off from cross-fertilization of ideas or corrective
input for its mistakes. Further, since members largely interact with one another, they may
begin to feel invulnerable and superior to those who are not group members. The more
insulated the group, the less corrective feedback they receive, the greater the tendency for
the group to feel invulnerable, and the greater the possibility of poor decisions.
Given these self-protective strategies, members can propose extreme ideas and face neither challenges nor corrections from other group members or from outsiders. Problems
with the group’s proposed solutions may be ignored or glossed over. Group failures
become interpreted as caused by problems in the outside environment or by enemies and
the dismal cycle continues.
Because groupthink has affected policy decisions, such as the 1961 U.S. invasion of the Bay
of Pigs in Cuba or the Challenger explosion in which engineer concerns about the O-rings
in the rocket were minimized by the group, considerable research about it has used creative forms of archival research or content analyses rather than laboratory experiments
with undergraduates. Philip Tetlock’s (1992) research informs us that while strong group
cohesion fosters groupthink, it is not the sole guilty party. An overly directive group leader
can dampen attempts by other group members to point out any problems with the leader’s
course of action. Another critically important aspect is a structure that discourages, or at
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Section 6.4 Cohesion Outcomes: “The Bad Stuff”
least fails to actively encourage, interaction between
the group and its outside
The first sign that groupthink
has caused serious problems
within the collectivity may be
when members begin to leave
the group without signifying
their intentions or even giving an explanation. Fewer and
fewer people attend group
meetings and, in voluntary
organizations, the group cof- Was the stock market crash that set off the Great Recession
fers may begin to dip precipi- a product, in part, of groupthink on the part of investors in
tously low. Group productivity the subprime mortgage market?
may steeply drop, and outside
authorities such as bosses are called in to investigate. In the meantime the remaining members refuse to even admit that there are any problems with the group or its decisions.
Groupthink is a phenomenon that business managers, chief executive officers, and owners
must learn about and guard against. The consequences of this kind of decision making can
not only spell financial doom for a company, but damage it severely enough in reputation
or member attrition that recovery can become exceptionally difficult. A group of investors
may convince each other, for instance, that a given stock is a steal. The members of the
group invest a great deal of money, convincing each other that it is a wise investment. The
groupthink on display here not only motivates each of them to continue to invest, their
mutual commitment prevents them from recognizing as early as they might that the stock
is a terrible investment, something they learn when they lose all their money. Markets have
a remarkable ability, after all, to demonstrate the negative consequences of groupthink.
To combat groupthink means encouraging employees to give honest feedback—and not
penalizing them for it. It means the business must make the effort to become thoroughly
engaged with its environment and to avoid isolation. It should ensure that key employees
are active in civic and professional organizations and stay abreast of new developments.
Cohesion and Productivity: Another Look
As noted earlier, the valences of group cohesion outcomes heavily depend on just what the
group norms are. While studying group productivity after World War II, group dynamicists discovered to their considerable surprise that productivity outcomes for cohesive
groups tended to be polarized, that is, they were either very productive or very unproductive in terms of the standards the experimenters created. Thus they discovered that the
average productivity of cohesive groups was quite close to that of far less cohesive groups
(examples of the diverse findings: Stogdill, 1972; Sypher, 1977; Vaisman, 1977).
In fact, if group goals diverge from organizational goals, not only may the group as a whole
become less productive by organizational standards, it may also reject those members
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Section 6.4 Cohesion Outcomes: “The Bad Stuff”
who are industrious by organizational standards. Students may remember how the “class
brain” could be ostracized in particular courses.
Why have there been such discrepant results of how group cohesion influences productivity? Highly cohesive groups who valued social interaction spent their time on chitchat and
social events, not on the group task imposed by the experimenter. Everyone got along well;
everyone liked everyone else a great deal. Given the interpersonal ties definition of cohesion, these groups were obviously quite cohesive. However, group task generativity was
poor. Haven’t we all experienced work groups like this? The social aspects of the group are
great; the only problem is that not a whole lot of work gets done. A study by
(“Employee engagement,” n.d.) indicates, for instance, these data about productivity losses:
1. Surfing the Internet for personal use accounted for 44.7 percent of all lost
2. Socializing with co-workers accounted for 23.4 percent.
3. Conducting personal business (technical and nontechnical) accounted for
6.8 percent.
4. Spacing out accounted for 3.9 percent.
5. Running errands away from the premises accounted for 3.1 percent.
Certainly 23.4 percent is a significant loss of productivity; an effective manager may want
to develop strategies for minimizing this kind of socializing without lessening the cohesiveness among fellow employees. After what we discussed earlier, this also calls for a
delicate balancing act.
Consider youth gangs as another example. These may be highly cohesive, but their goals
may conflict with those of the larger society including their families, schools, and neighborhoods. If the gang is highly cohesive, the group will be able to enforce its goals even if these
prove deadly (for example, gang warfare) or detrimental to particular individuals, such as
severe injury or even a prison sentence.
As should be clear, just because a group is cohesive and tightly knit does not mean it is
promoting positive outcomes. Other factors must be considered in determining the value
of the group and its potential
for becoming a productive,
effective team. A good manager will develop techniques
to foster unity and cohesiveness among team members
and employees as a whole.
Several such techniques have
been discussed above. At the
same time, the manager must
be aware of some of the drawbacks of cohesion, including
generating a work environment not conducive to proCan cohesion within the group be too much of a good thing?
ductive work, and making it
Some reports say excessive socializing is one of the biggest
difficult to hear valuable but
contributors to productivity losses.
critical dissenting voices.
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What Did We Discover?
Interpersonal, structural, and organizational factors all impact the feelings of cohesion
or togetherness groups experience. Teams and groups are related, but they are not quite
the same thing. Team cohesion can be deliberately fostered, but can also be damaged by
things like social loafing. Cohesion, in general, can have positive outcomes, but also has
the potential for a large number of bad outcomes. Cohesion can result in issues like pluralistic ignorance, scapegoating and aggression, self-censorship, and groupthink.
What Did We Discover?
• Groups and teams can find cohesion on the basis of a number of different factors,
including shared goals and sharing the same physical space.
• A number of things can help reinforce group and team unity, such as members
sharing common goals and being given increased responsibility.
• Any group or team confronts a number of challenges to cohesiveness, including
too much reliance on familiarity and teams becoming unified around their excluding others.
• Teams and groups are distinct in how they are structured and in how the members
of each take responsibility for the goals they seek to accomplish.
Business Application Exercises
1. How can a manager make sure dissenting voices are not excluded as simply
“deviant” and thus not heard?
2. Describe a situation you have been in when critical or dissenting views were a
welcome part of the work environment. What were the benefits of this occurring?
3. Explain why a work environment that is not conducive to dissenting voices may
end up being harmed. If you have been in this situation, describe it.
4. Describe someone you have worked with, or gone to school with, who prevented
a team or group you were in from being as productive as it might have been. What
kinds of things might have been in place to prevent, or at least minimize, this?
5. Describe a collection of people you have worked with before. Would you characterize that collection as a team or a group? Explain why you chose the term you did.
Key Terms
common group goals
group insularity
emotional arousal
interdependent goals
group homogeneity
interpersonal sources of group cohesion
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What Did We Discover?
meta analysis
organizational factors of cohesion
shared identity
physical arousal
social loafing
pluralistic ignorance
structural sources of cohesion
Related Web Links
How Costco Became the Anti-Wal-Mart
Six Ways to Create a More Productive Work Environment
Propinquity: Is the Lack of Propinquity Killing Your Project?
Japanese Work Environment
Creating and Managing Effective Teams in the Workplace
The Origins of Apple Inc.
BrandExtract Partners with Marathon Oil to Launch New Brand and Website
Employee Engagement: Seven Factors to Dissatisfaction, Two Solutions
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Attraction to Groups
Learning Objectives
What We Will Be Investigating
• What makes a group work most efficiently?
• What techniques are available to make group members feel more as if they are
part of the team?
• How can managers avoid making members of an organization feel excluded?
• What are the challenges of measuring how cohesive a group really is?
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Chapter Outline
5.1 Factors of Attraction
Other Factors
5.2 Exchange Theories
5.3 Entering, Maintaining, and Leaving Groups
5.4 C
 reating Productive Groups:
An Introduction to Group Cohesion
What Is Group Cohesion?
How Do We Measure Group Cohesion?
“If you give people tools, [and they use]
their natural ability and their curiosity, they will
develop things in ways that will surprise you
very much beyond what you might have expected.”
—Bill Gates
Businesses, teams, nonprofits, and many other organizations are built around groups. The
success of these organizations often depends on how well groups within the organization
function in order to be more productive and efficient, as well as to be more satisfying to
the members who belong to the organization.
In this chapter, we explore some of the dynamics of how people work together, in order to see
what factors are involved in increasing the effectiveness of groups. We will also look at some
of the challenges organizations encounter, and consider some possible responses to those
challenges in order to avoid them or at least to minimize the potential risks they may pose.
Sit down for a minute and consider all the various groups that you belong to. Now think
back to how and why you joined each of these groups. Recall from Chapter 3 that some
groups, such as your family, are ascriptive, which means you were born or adopted into
that group. You may have joined other groups when you were young because your family belonged to them, such as a particular religious congregation. You may still belong to
that house of worship, or perhaps you have joined a new congregation or even converted
to a different faith. You probably had little choice about which high school you attended,
although you may have voluntarily joined clubs there, such as choir or future engineers.
As you grew older, your choices about your membership groups and aspiring membership groups increased, as did the number of possible available groups. Even during high
school you had preferences about your friends, school clubs, or a romantic partner. You
had considerably more latitude about picking the college you attend than you did about
your high school. You chose your college major. And even when economic times are
tough, you have some options about employment. You’ve probably added new friends,
different romantic partners, and college activities. You also may belong to a professional
association, a neighborhood crime-watch group, or a hobby club. Although virtually all
of us belong to groups, how many and which groups we belong to can show individual
differences as well as differences by our social location.
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Section 5.1 Factors of Attraction
5.1 Factors of Attraction
Individuals join groups for many reasons, some of which bear surprisingly little surface
relationship to the ostensible rationale for the group’s existence. One might think, for
example, that adult parishioners join a particular religious congregation after considerable thought because its doctrine, theology, or liturgy are consistent with the parishioner’s own, or perhaps because the individual finds the services spiritually uplifting. Yet
research has found that of there are other popular reasons to join a specific congregation,
• Location. Place of worship is convenient to the parishioner’s home.
• Belonging. The parishioner’s close friends or neighbors belong to that congregation
and/or it is a great way to become part of the community.
• Inspiration. The preacher delivers really rousing sermons—you don’t fall asleep
during this pastor’s sermons!
• Loyalty. The parishioner grew up in this denomination or even this congregation.
• Economic. This congregation will help the parishioner grow a local real estate or
catering business.
Similarly, a young manager may join a civic business group for several reasons that have
little to do with her or his job or with forging business connections:

It’s a great place to meet potential romantic partners.
The appetizers are consistently delicious.
The young manager lives alone and hates going home to an empty apartment.
Some of his or her best friends from college belong.
The group recruiter made a special effort to sign up the manager.
The first-year membership fees are so low that (especially when the food is considered) it’s practically free!
Situation-specific variations on these reasons (e.g., convenient to work or to a bus/subway line) can also help explain the neighborhoods we choose, the jobs we take, or the
clubs we join.
As you can see, what makes a particular group appealing to a specific potential member is
not always immediately obvious. Attractive features, described in more detail below, can
relate to personality, gender, power and prestige, propinquity, the group’s unconditional
acceptance of a recruit, mere exposure, and similarity.
The negotiation of a personality-oriented perspective versus a situational perspective
emerges frequently in the study of group processes. Which perspective you choose to
believe can determine how you will approach any particular group dynamics topic. For
example, if you take a personality perspective, you might favor individual assertiveness
training to bring shy individuals out of their shell and make them more social, perhaps
even assuming leadership positions. If you take a situational approach you might try to
help your shy members increase their interpersonal interactions by altering aspects of
group interaction, or even redesigning your physical work or living spaces. For example,
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Section 5.1 Factors of Attraction
comfortable sofas, a small refrigerator, and a coffee machine in an employee lounge can invite
workers to cluster there.
Most of the time when we study group processes,
we address the social aspects, such as specific
roles or conformity. However, at times individual
differences or personality variables appear relevant to joining or playing roles in a group. Leadership, of course, is one obvious example in both
the research literature and in popular stereotypes;
we take a thorough look at leadership in Chapter 9. Another issue where personality traits may
be relevant is why we join groups, the kinds of
groups we join, and how many groups we join.
What do we know about personality characteristics that could affect group processes? Many
taxonomies of personality describes an introversion-extroversion dimension, or a “moving
toward” people versus a “moving away” orientation. Scholars such as Jerome Kagan (Kagan,
2004; Rimm-Kaufman & Kagan, 2005) believe that
qualities such extroversion are basic, biologically
influenced individual traits. The general theory
goes that individuals with relatively high internal levels of neural stimulation (introverts) seek
quieter surroundings to dampen down neural
excitement to an optimal level, while those with
relatively low internal levels of neural stimulation (extroverts) seek more exciting surroundings
in order to maintain a comfortable internal equilibrium of neural stimulation. This, of course, is a
predilection only; Kagan points out it is not even
close to “biology is destiny.” Recent research indicates that whatever we wish to call these relatively
constant methods of acting upon and responding
to one’s environment, they can be recognizably
stable for decades.
Negotiating and handling different
personality types is an important part
of any manager’s job.
Recall from the discussion of social facilitation
(Chapter 1) that the mere presence of other people
can be physically arousing. Thus extroverts may
seek out others to raise their levels of arousal. For
extroverts, the mere presence of others can be stimulating and rewarding, so extroverts can
grow to relish life in groups. For introverts, however, the increased arousal levels created
by the presence of others is undesirable. Thus, among introverts the presence of others may
become associated with discomfort and a desire for solitude, making them more likely to
avoid group situations. Introverts enjoy time without the distraction of others. Their best
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Section 5.1 Factors of Attraction
work may come when they are able to work alone. Introversion-extroversion is one of these
trait constellations that is remarkably consistent, although introverts do become somewhat
more sociable over the lifespan and extroverts become somewhat more subdued.
One of your responsibilities as a group leader or facilitator will be to guide members with
introversion and extroversion tendencies. You will need to recognize these traits in your
members and work to establish and maintain group productivity and cohesiveness as
these personalities interact and sometimes clash.
Techniques to deal with some of the personal tendencies you might find in a group can
be simple. Philip Zimbardo (1999) conducted research about shyness with young children at school. His method of overcoming shyness and encouraging these children to
become more sociable has been to drape simple brown lunch bags over their heads, with
holes cuts for eyes, nose, and mouth. Apparently, despite what would seem to be the
conspicuousness of brown bags for heads, hiding one’s face makes timid youngsters less
self-conscious and more outgoing.
Obviously the type of experience one has had in groups counts too. People who have generally had supportive, positive group experiences in the past will seek similar situations
more often. The kind of group may vary as well. Some people are drawn to task-oriented
groups while others join groups that appear to support socioemotional needs.
Our location in the social system or life cycle stage often determines the attractiveness of a
particular group. Someone active in the business world may join a civic group, such as the
local chamber of commerce, to generate a network of professional contacts. A young parent may want assistance or social support from a “mothers’ morning out” club. Teenagers
look to their peers to provide information—and possible mates. Retirees may sign up to
volunteer at local organizations or charities.
Within the world of work, individuals are first attracted to the group because of personal
goals or because the group solicited the help of the individual in order to accomplish group
goals. The individual works overtime to meet personal and group goals. When those goals
Business in the Real World
Dress for Success
Many companies expect their employees to dress in a certain way. Of course, the nature of the work will determine this to some extent: A coal miner is not likely to wear a coat and tie into the mine. Standard office dress
generally is considered to be business suits, dress shirts, and ties for men and skirted suits or tailored pantsuits for
women. The uniformity of dress reduces distractions and helps employees identify with each other.
Some companies have also instituted a “casual” day—often Fridays—as a way of improving worker morale, and
can also help with the cohesiveness of the group. Imagine the employees of Company X going to lunch on “casual
Friday” wearing blue jeans and Hawaiian shirts. They may well see employees from Company Y in business suits;
this allows the employees from Company X another opportunity to see their group as a cohesive unit, and also
helps identify those (the employees of Company Y) who are excluded from that unit. In this way, both kinds of
dress codes can help generate group cohesion and increase organizational unity.
What advantages do you see from a company having a “casual Friday”? What disadvantages might arise?
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Section 5.1 Factors of Attraction
are accomplished or when it becomes evident to the individual that the group no longer
holds the same attractiveness, a breakdown or disintegration of the individual’s relationship with the group may occur. This is something that you must always remember as a
group member or as a group leader.
Although sex differences have been reported in some of the group dynamics research literature, one social source of gender disparities that becomes immediately apparent upon
reflection is life cycle issues. More women than men tend full-time to domestic labor,
including childcare. More men than women are found at the top of business and professional echelons. Increasingly, retirees are disproportionately females, who live alone,
because of current sex differences in life span longevity (see, e.g., Austad, 2011).
Thus, at least part of the greater propensity some researchers find for women to join more
“informal and intimate groups” (Maccoby, 1990; Tiger, 2005) is their location in social
structures and roles that make the “informal trading” of information and social support
more likely—for example, as young mothers or elderly widows. Since men in their middle
years are more likely than women to be engaged full-time in the economic marketplace,
men more often join structured groups such as professional associations or business clubs.
Finally, remember that nature and society may block membership in certain groups by gender. Almost all members of Lamaze breastfeeding classes are female, for obvious reasons.
Some business groups still exclude women from membership or use unwritten sanctions
to make women uncomfortable in largely male groups, so they neither join nor attend.
Often such arrangements are informal; a group of businessmen may conduct important
discussions while golfing at
an all-male golf club, or may
interact after taking part in an
activity that is clearly exclusive, whether a night out at a
“gentleman’s club” or playing in a men’s softball league.
The question then becomes
whether these discussions
function as carrying out an
organization’s business, and
what problems might emerge
from this exclusivity.
Similarity is the number one
factor fostering attraction to
a group (Montoya, Horton,
& Kirchner, 2008) . Similarity
can take several forms. It can
be based on demographics or
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The exclusion of women from workplace environments may
often be subtle—perhaps woven into prior cultural norms
among men rather than a conscious, formal plan. A typical
golf outing among male colleagues may be one such cultural
factor that works to make women feel like outsiders in their
own company.
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Section 5.1 Factors of Attraction
one’s stage in the life cycle (e.g., young mothers). The group may appeal to members of a particular age group, educational type (e.g., college graduates) or occupation (e.g., attorneys).
Recall from Stanley Schacter’s research described in Chapter 4 that similarity also can be
based on specific circumstances, such as waiting for a strong versus a mild electric shock
as part of an experiment. The “American abroad” phenomenon refers to the presumed
similarity upon meeting another person from the United States while visiting a different
country, particularly if the second individual is from the same state or city. Because the two
individuals are in a place foreign to them, they form a group due to the relative similarity
they share in nationality. Yet they may be different in every other way and would not form
a group at all in any other context. Similarity can also occur on values and attitudes, such
as politics or consumer goals, and the group may be seen as one avenue to express these.
Why is similarity so important? First, similarity is comfortable. We find it easier to immediately start a conversation with similar others, because we believe we will have interests and conversational topics in common. The behavior of similar others appears more
predictable, thus lulling our initial social anxieties. Similar others may be able to give us
useful advice that is based on relevant circumstances or dilemmas. Thus, to interact with
similar others can be intrinsically rewarding.
Many group dynamicists go further. Recall that Leon Festinger’s theory of social comparison is now over 50 years old (it appeared in Human Relations in 1954). Festinger and
his contemporaries took a highly cognitive approach to group processes, believing that
similar others were more informative for us than dissimilar others. Similar others tell
us what is reasonable to expect, how well we are performing compared with our peers,
and help us feel less embarrassed about anxiety-provoking situations. A company may,
for example, have a number of employees who went to the same university; this similarity may make these employees feel more comfortable, and each employee thus has others with whom he or she can discuss various work-related issues. The increased comfort
level, based on this similarity, may provide these employees with information they regard
as reliable, and offers an environment where this kind of communication becomes more
frequent. Having access, then, to those who are similar can often make the work environment more comfortable and, consequently, more productive.
The notion that group membership can be rewarding for us spurred the development of
several exchange theories. Rewards for group membership can stem from the benefits
individuals receive. However, we also can invest considerable time, energy, money, and
other resources in groups, thereby incurring personal costs. Further, groups differ in terms
of how much they reward individuals and in what kind of rewards they bestow. Groups that
appear to become too costly ultimately may lose members or have trouble attracting new
For instance, a woman may be offered a very lucrative partnership in a well-known law
firm. The rewards are significant: In addition to the obvious financial gains involved, she
will also receive increased access to important and influential members of her profession, and the position brings with it considerable prestige. At the same time, the position
requires extensive travel, requiring her often to be away from her family. Here, she may
well regard the rewards of this position as not being sufficient to outweigh the costs of
being away from her young children.
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Section 5.2 Exchange Theories
Correctly assessing the costliness of group membership is a very important business and
group application. As you return to the workplace or group participation it is important to
make sure that your group or organization attracts and not repels current and potential members. Managers must develop techniques to achieve this very important strategic initiative.
Other Factors
The potential membership group may offer the new member tangible or intangible
rewards or an ability to meet goals that coincide with the individual’s own values and
standards. For example, joining a particular civic organization may help the new member’s real estate business by providing a ready—and renewable—source of customers. For
many people, the prestige or power of the group can be a very important resource. The
formal versus informal dimension of groups can become important here because formal
groups may be able to provide greater tangible rewards and more prestige to members
more thoroughly and readily than informal groups can. While such intangible benefits
may be difficult to quantify, or to put a price tag on, they can clearly be very significant.
Access to those who can help one advance in his or her career, via networking, is such
an intangible but extremely valuable benefit. Public recognition within the organization
or in the larger community, the personal satisfaction one gains by taking on challenges
and meeting them, and developing a more broadly based and more widely applied set
of skills within one’s profession can all be regarded as such intangible rewards. In some
circumstances, these intangible benefits can be as important to an individual as the more
traditional and quantifiable rewards a position offers.
Another engaging feature of a group can be its acceptance of the individual as a new
member, that is, other people in the group find the member personally attractive and
freely express their feelings. The group may engage in active recruitment. Often active
recruitment occurs because members are people the individual already knows. For example a cult might express unconditional approval for the individual and offer an effusive
welcome with the hope of recruiting that individual to be part of the cult.
Very often we interact continuously with the same people who live or work nearby; thus
propinquity and familiarity can make a group desirable. Although these features could
be a matter of convenience, they need not be. We know from Robert Zajonc’s research
(1968), among others, about the positive effects of repeated mere exposure research that,
other things being equal, means the more we are exposed to something and the more
familiar it is, the more we like it.
5.2 Exchange Theories
When contemplating an expensive purchase, such as a house or a car, individuals often
engage in a cost-benefit analysis; if the total expenditure appears to exceed the rewards
they expect the acquisition to provide, they may consequently either fail to buy that item
or reformulate their wants. A business may decide against hiring new employees if it
believes these workers will not create sufficient new business to justify their cost. This is
commonly known as a return on investment (ROI) in business circles. CEOs, boards of
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Section 5.2 Exchange Theories
directors, and managers carefully track the ROI of strategies, acquisitions, and human
resources. As a group member, consider how you and others in the group enhance the
investment that the group or organization is making. Similarly, there often is a tangible
or psychological benefit for the person wanting to join the group. Social psychologists
have proposed that similar processes may occur when someone considers entering a new
group or creating a new relationship. Individuals weigh the costs of joining a group and
participating in its activities against the rewards they anticipate receiving in return.
The rewards of joining a group or beginning a relationship are diverse and can consist of:
• Group resources can include, among many other things, the feelings of self-satisfaction
that the status and prestige of membership can bestow.
• Socioemotional benefits include the alleviation of loneliness through group interaction, a sense of belonging, and contributions to one’s social or collective identity.
• Rewards can also be more tangible, such as access to Internet technology at a good
university or higher interest rates on savings at a particular bank.
• Advancement goals may be more easily achieved in a group than individually, such
as the opportunity to work with exceptional students or pay lower rates for health
insurance for workers at a particular company.
However, the costs of joining a group or starting a new relationship also can be plenty:
• Financial. Financial investments of various kinds, from initiation fees for a fraternity, sorority, or country club to more expensive clothing for the job to nursery
school costs for employed parents.
• Time. The time required, especially at the beginning of the relationship or group
membership, in addition to time spent in meetings and routine group activities.
• Effort. The amount of effort involved such
as typing meeting minutes, setting up a
new store display, or studying for the state
legal bar exam.
• Regret. Less obvious costs include forgone
opportunities. Generally you can only
attend one university at a time, marry one
person at a time, or work for one company at a time. “Buyer’s remorse” refers
to the feelings of sadness involved after
a purchase that involved a choice among
• Social. Costs can also be social. For example, in the course of working with other
members to set goals or create a course
of action, you may experience unpleasant confrontations with others. Ultimately
such disputes may even become impor- A sense of belonging can be a sociotant enough to split the group.
emotional benefit to group memberSociologist George Homans’s theory of exchange in
groups (1974) emphasized “minimax” principles—
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ship that’s just as powerful and fulfilling as any tangible reward.
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Section 5.2 Exchange Theories
that minimal costs and maximum rewards make a group
more attractive to recruits
or even to current members.
Homans believed that if the
costs of group membership
increased to become greater
than its rewards, or if rewards
dropped or costs increased
during one’s tenure as a member, individuals would begin
to leave the group. Here one
might consider the Internetbased company Google. Its
Like Google, many companies today provide an abundance
business model has been
of attractive features to their employees, such as strong benremarkably successful by
efits plans, free food, and even help with daily chores, like
emphasizing the importance
laundry facilities.
of employees for meeting its
goals. Google insists that its
employees feel part of the organization, and make that clear by emphasizing its innovations,
from its health and retirement plans, to its flexible and generous scheduling options for vacation and maternity leave, and even free laundry facilities. Google’s workers consistently
point out how much time they spend at work, but just as consistently identify it as one of the
best companies to work for in the United States (see”100 Best Companies,” 2011)
Often to gain employment with organizations, applicants must possess a college degree
applicable to the job that is being applied for. The degree represents a personal cost that the
applicant was willing to incur in the hope of future gain or reward. In order to minimize
the costs associated with attaining the degree, the applicant often searches for schools that
offer comparable degrees at lower costs. The applicants also seek ways to reduce the costs
associated with materials needed for school. The applicant assumes the risks associated
with going to school because of recognized proof that having a degree increases earning
potential after graduation. Thus applicants for certain jobs view education costs as being
necessary for obtaining desired positions in the work environment.
Life is not always as simple as toting up the rewards and costs of group membership,
then staying or leaving as the benefits and costs balance out. Many costs and rewards are
hard to quantify, such as feelings of satisfaction. Furthermore, without other options, an
individual may feel constrained to remain with his or her current group or relationship.
For example, during hard economic times, people keep the jobs they already have, fearing
that another job may not become readily available or that the current employment alternatives are worse than the job they now have. An individual may remain in an unrewarding
“love” relationship, feeling that it is better than being alone or fearing that no one as good
as the current partner will come along.
Thus individuals also need to consider their available choices. Thibaut and Kelley’s classic
(1959) interdependence theory directly addresses this issue of alternatives. In Thibaut and
Kelley’s theory, individuals have an established and relatively stable comparison level
(CL) of expectations for their interactions, rewards, and costs associated with a particular
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Section 5.2 Exchange Theories
group. Their comparison level can come from previous experiences, the experiences of
similar others, cultural expectations, or advance research completed through libraries or
the Internet. Perhaps even the individual’s level of self-esteem may affect his or her CL.
For example, your salary expectations may be based on your initial salary working for
a company, what you’ve been able to glean about salaries from co-workers (since many
companies want their workers to hold salaries totally confidential), and advertisements in
trade publications. These inflows of information plus current employment figures in your
field can influence your decision to ask for a raise and the dollar figure that you believe
you currently deserve, or to seek employment elsewhere.
Thibaut and Kelley also posit a comparison level for alternatives: “CLalt” is the least satisfying alternative available to the individual. Individuals are hypothesized to compare
their CL with their CLalt to decide whether to leave or stay in a relationship, remain in an
existing group, or join a new group.
Let’s take a very simplistic example: Consider someone who currently holds a job paying
$40,000 per year. She interviews on the job market and is blissfully happy to receive the
following three offers:
$45,000 per year
$50,000 per year
$55,000 per year
According to interdependence theory, our fortunate employee’s choice is clear. Our job
seeker’s CLalt of $45,000, which is her lowest offer, is still greater than her comparison
level, which is $40,000. Interdependence theory predicts she will leave her current job to
take another, even if it is not the $55,000 job of her highest offer, because she now knows
that her baseline of worth in the market is still more than she’s currently being paid.
Of course, most situations are multidimensional and the prospective member of a group,
or someone deciding to leave a group or relationship, typically considers a range of alternatives along each dimension. All together, Thibaut and Kelley believe that if
CL > CLalt
the individual will remain in the current group
CL < CLalt the individual will leave the current group CL = CLalt the choice cannot be predicted While some of this may seem like simple common sense, it is important to recognize that not all researchers agree with minimax principles. Equity theory (Adams, 1965), for example, postulates that individuals will try to achieve consistency between their costs and rewards in their interactions with others. For example, if you work very hard yet feel underpaid for your efforts, due to your perceived disparity between cost (to you in work) and reward (to you in compensation) you may feel compelled to seek employment in a group where these where cost and reward were better aligned for you. On a less formal basis, we often discuss our romantic relationships in almost economic terms. If we feel we aren’t getting enough out of a relationship, we may sever it. Conversely, it might seem close to paradise to give very little to a job or a relationship but to receive a great deal in return. Los66308_05_c05_p091-110.indd 101 9/1/11 9:59 AM Section 5.3 Entering, Maintaining, and Leaving Groups CHAPTER 5 Minimax theory is a good theory for recognizing basic behaviors for persons seeking membership in a group. However, once a person joins a group, commitment levels may rise. This commitment level can be recognized by the amount of extra effort that the person will apply to assigned tasks and also the person’s strong desire to maintain membership in the group (Mowday, Porter, & Steers, 1982) Consider what is needed in order to encourage higher levels of commitment to the group. While all exchange theories assert that the underrewarded usually become irate, feeling cheated and deprived, and seriously consider leaving the group or relationship, equity theory directly addresses the case of overreward. The overrewarded individuals may also change their behavior (Leventhal, Weiss, & Long, 1969). Realizing the inequity of receiving more than they should they might increase their group inputs by, for example, working harder or producing more goods. If it is not possible to increase the quantity of one’s productivity in these situations, the individual may try to increase the quality of his or her output. Initially, the overrewarded also may feel guilty. However, another possibility, particularly for those occupying a leadership role, is to alter their perceptions of others, such as co-workers—typically downward—to justify the higher rewards they receive. Consider Emily and James, who inherited a large, very valuable company from their father. Both were traditionally hard workers, but having gained control of this company, they discover that they spend considerably more time at work than they used to; while they used to work 50-hour weeks, they are now working 60-, 70-, and even 80-hour weeks. In this way, they may be trying to justify their new positions of increased power and wealth. They also notice that most of their employees do not spend the kind of hours at work that they do, which also allows them explain to themselves—or rationalize—why they receive the much greater financial benefits that they do. Exchanges also can occur across groups, contributing to the decisions of two or more groups to work together. We will address intragroup versus intergroup cooperation versus competition in Chapter 10. It’s worth noting here, however, that many groups regularly engage in bargaining and mediation practices with each other to achieve satisfactory exchanges. The exchange theory research literature makes it clear that groups with relatively low costs have an advantage attracting members. Groups offering rewards, perhaps especially rewards proportionate to costs, as the equity theory research literature suggests, also have an edge on gathering recruits. When a member has a choice of groups, a group cannot simply hold out rewards at the very beginning of admission. The group that maintains rewards—or rewarding experiences—throughout the membership experience will probably have more success at maintaining membership, and thus, continuing to survive. 5.3 Entering, Maintaining, and Leaving Groups People enter groups several ways. Recall again the cliché “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” From darling Aunt Lil to eccentric Uncle Bill, family is an ascribed group. In addition, prisoners, pupils, drafted soldiers, workers in a bad labor market, all can find themselves continuing in groups not of their own choosing. Los66308_05_c05_p091-110.indd 102 9/1/11 9:59 AM Section 5.3 Entering, Maintaining, and Leaving Groups CHAPTER 5 Similarly, you may have little choice about leaving a group. If your violation of group norms is severe enough, you can be expelled. In certain kinds of routinized aggregates, such as college cohorts, the only way to stay a member is to fail. Graduation, retirement, widowhood, even promotions, are socially validated rites of passage to commemorate role and group loss. Let’s suppose you at least had some choice about affiliation. Recall from Chapter 3 that Bruce Tuckman has one theory of group growth and dispersion that assumes • members enter, • make adjustments to one another, • encounter conflict along the way in establishing one’s position in the group and setting group norms, • and then eventually the group dissolves. Recall, too, we would suspect that Tuckman probably envisioned informal groups because many groups (as well as formal organizations) survive even several turnovers of membership. Moreland and Levine (1982) see a longer, perhaps even permanent group phenomenon, a continuing sequence of group socialization and resocialization. Potential members investigate a group and in turn groups recruit members. New members undergo initiation rituals and a period of adjustment. In return, the group may assist members in their preferences. For example, during the 1970s and 1980s, many American businesses offered help with childcare, flexible hours, and even job sharing to accommodate changing norms about family care. Once a member is established, he or she may engage in role negotiation and maintenance. Resocialization may occur in response to changes in the member, such as the physical changes associated with aging; changes in the organization, such as the introduction of new technology; or changes in the environment, such as requests for the company to engage in greener manufacturing processes. The member may need to learn new skills, such as online course management or a new statistical analysis program, or increase their productivity. Eventually, due to incompatibilities, illness, or joining another group, membership may end. Both the individual and the group may create accounts or stories to explain this disjuncture (“I wasn’t fired, I quit.”). However, it is also possible for membership to continue until Companies must keep up with cultural shifts and changes. company or member relo- For example, in the 1970s and 80s, many companies started cation, retirement, or death offering more attractive maternity and childcare options for brings the group relationship women entering the workplace in higher numbers. to a halt. Los66308_05_c05_p091-110.indd 103 9/1/11 9:59 AM Section 5.3 Entering, Maintaining, and Leaving Groups CHAPTER 5 As a group member or group leader you must be aware of personal needs. These personal needs will motivate group members to stay or leave the group. Likewise, group needs can perform other functions. These needs can cause joining, growth, disintegration, firing, and/or leaving behaviors to surface. As a leader you can prepare the organization and the individual to perform most of these functions in a productive manner. Joining and Groups that don’t make themselves attractive enough to workleaving are natural occurers risk being weak not only in recruiting potential job seekrences in group life. Recogers, but also in retaining their existing personnel. If employees nizing this fact and planning leave en masse, the company could collapse altogether. for its eventuality is what will make both a constructive and not a destructive process. Consider what you can do to make the latter stages of group life a constructive process for the individual and the group. In families, the “he said, she said” accounts are often fascinating. Each romantic partner appears to create a totally different account of “how we met,” “how we wed,” “what was right,” “what went wrong,” and in cases of divorce or dissolution, “how we parted.” For example former Florida U.S. Senator Bob Graham delights in telling about how his parents met on a bus traveling in north Florida. His mother entered the bus at a small town and his father later joined the journey. According to the senior Graham, the bus was absolutely packed and the only available seat was next to his future bride. According to the Senator’s mother, the bus was nearly empty and this stranger insisted on sitting down next to her. Sometimes parting can amount to literal social obliteration. If a person you’ve been in contact with leaves a firm, her contact information may be wiped clean, leaving no way of contacting her in her new place of employment. In such a case, her parting from her former group amounted to her previous ... Purchase answer to see full attachment

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