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Drawing on the Literature, Outline the Key Factors That Influence the Effectiveness of a Group

Essay by   •  September 24, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,330 Words (6 Pages)  •  2,275 Views

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According to Robbins et al. (2006 p. 488), a gathering of two or more individuals, who, through communication and mutual support, trying to achieve common objectives is define as a group. Groups are integral to an organisation as they are utilised to achieve organisation objectives in the best way possible by being effective and efficient. Groups are important in helping an individual to achieve his/her targets and maintaining social interaction. (Shockley-Zalabak 2006 p. 188) By combining their efforts, groups are able to attain their goals more effectively than any one individual. Interaction within a group can lead to better and sound decision making as compared to an individual. (Lehman & DuFrene 2002, p. 61)

Therefore, it is important to understand the factors that influence the effectiveness of a group. This essay has identified three factors: diversity, group size and leadership, among the various other factors, for discussion.

Diversity

According to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (2006), diversity is defined as 'the fact of including many different types of people or things.' When different types of people congregate together, different cultures come together. With this, the interpretation of ideas and intent varies among the different cultures. Culture differences are by far, wide and countless, depending on the complexity of the groups. The level of complexity has an effect on mutual trust and openness towards one another among the different cultures. Without understanding the differences, communication can be difficult and ineffective. This in turn creates miscommunication and unnecessary friction. For effective communication between different cultures, these differences must be identified and each individual's bias against other cultures must be overcome. (Bovée, Thill & Schatzman 2003, pp. 53)

While diversity increases the complexity of communication, it also gathers a myriad of new ideas and suggestions. These contributions are often innovative and play an important role in resolving complex issues as diverse groups are less prone to groupthink. (Hamilton & Parker 1997, p. 279) DeVito (2003, p 270) defines 'Groupthink is a way of thinking that people use when agreement among members has become excessively important.'

Modaff, DeWine and Butler (2008, p. 243) agrees with Hamilton and Parker. They state that, 'Cross-cultural teams have the potential to be the most successful, given the diversity of ideas and contributions they can generate.'

Group Size

Lehman and DuFrene (2002, p. 61) states that in order for a group to be effective, one characteristic would be that it needs to be small. She explains that small groups allow its members to have ample airtime to voice their opinion and clarify issues with the rest of the group. On the other hand, large groups are unable to accommodate all its members to have sufficient airtime to voice their opinions due to the size. She also noted that large groups are often sub-divided into smaller groups for better control even though the groups were very focused on their objectives. She went on further to suggest that groups of five to seven members were the idealistic arrangement to have when decisions making and problem-solving are the tasks at hand. Also, she mentioned an odd number of members would be ideal in the scenario where voting needs to take place.

Agreeing with Lehman and DuFrene, Hamilton and Parker (1997, p.271) state that 'Five is considered the most productive size of a small group because it is large enough to supply needed information and to share the workload, yet small enough to give each other a chance for maximum participation.'

As group size expand, the tendency of group members becoming less satisfied with the group increases. In a large group, often than not, the same few people are always doing the presentation and leading the discussion. The rest do little or they remain low profile. Large groups are often slow in making decisions, affecting their performances. When large groups sub-divide into smaller groups, the possibility of these smaller groups developing a contrary opinion to the larger group it came from increases and this diverts the group away from its intended objective. (Tubbs & Moss 2000, pp. 350-352)

Leadership

Leadership can make or break an organisation. André (2008, p. 293) described leaders as 'powerful' and 'potential liabilities'. The livelihood of employees employed under

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