Determinants of Group Behavior - Organizational Behavior

Group behavior in an organization is quite complex. As shown in figure below, group behavior is influenced by a number of factors, which can be classified as follows:

1)     External factors

2)     Group members' resources

3)     Group structure

4)     Group processes

5)     Group tasks

1)     Group and external factors: there are generally several groups in an organization. Each group is a sub-system of the organization. It interacts with other sub-systems and the organization system.. The organization system influences the group through corporate strategy, organization structure, rules and regulations, organizational resources, staffing policies, appraisal and reward system, organizational culture, physical work environment such as layout, lighting, interior decoration, seating arrangement, temperature, etc.

2)     Group members' resources: group performance depends, to considerable extent, on the number resources, which comprise:

I. Abilities of members: the performance of a group may be influenced by the task relevant intellectual abilities of each of its members. Research evidence indicates that individuals, who hold crucial abilities for attaining the group's task tend to be more involved in group activity, generally contribute more, and more likely to emerge as the group leaders, and are more  satisfied of their talents are effectively utilized by the group. Further, intellectual ability and task relevant ability have both been found to be related to overall group performance. However, the correlation between abilities of members and group performance is subject to the impact of such variables as size of the group. The nature of the task, the action of its leader and the level of intra group conflict or cooperation.

II. Personality characteristics:  the personality traits of group members can shape group attitudes and behavior. The attributes that have a positive connotation tend to be positively related to group productivity, morale and cohesiveness. These include traits such as sociability, self-reliance, and independence. In contrast, negatively evaluated traits such as authoritarianism, dominance, and manipulation tend to have adverse effect on group performance in the long run.

3)     Group structure: work groups are not unorganized mobs. They have a structure that shapes the behavior of members and makes it possible to explain and predict a large proportion of individual behavior within the group as well as the performance of the group itself.

I. Formal leadership: almost every work group has a formal leader. He or she is typically identified by titles such as unit or department manager, etc. this leader can play an important part in the group's success. The leader is responsible for the direction and goal accomplishment of the group and can reward or punish individual members when they do not comply with directions, orders or rules of the group. The leader has the power to make the group members comply with directives because he has the organization's support.

II. Roles: a set of expected behavior patterns attributed to someone occupying a given position in a social unit.

a) Role identity: certain attitudes and behavior consistent with a role. These attitudes and behaviors create role identity.

b) Role perception: an individual's view of how he or she is supposed to act in a given situation.

c)  Role expectations: how others believe a person should act in a given situation.

d) Role conflict: a situation in which an individual is confronted by divergent role expectations.

III. Norms: norms are acceptable standards of behavior within a group, which are shared by the group's members.

Common classes of norms

a) Performance norms: it explains how hard members should work, how to get the job done, their level of output, appropriate levels of tardiness and the like.

b) Appearance norms: it explains how to appear yourself

c) Social arrangement norms: these norms primarily regulate social interactions within the group.

d) Allocation of resources norms: these norms cover things like pay assignment of difficult jobs, and allocation of new tools and equipment.

IV. Status: status is a socially defined position or rank given to groups or group members by others.

V. Size: the size of a group affect the group's overall behavior but the effect depends on what dependent variables you look at. One of the most important findings related to the size of a group has been labeled social loafing.

Social loafing is the tendency for individuals to expend less effort when working collectively than when working individually.

VI. Composition: most group activities require a variety of skills and knowledge. Given this requirement it would be reasonable to conclude that heterogeneous groups-those composed of dissimilar individuals-would be more likely to have diverse abilities and information and should be more effective.

4)     Group processes: group processes refer to the communication patterns used by members, group decision processed, leader behavior, power dynamics, and conflict interactions. Group processes are significant as they can create outputs greater than the sum of their inputs because of the effect of synergy. The term 'synergy' is drawn from biology that refers to an action of two or more substances that results in effects that is much more the summation of the individual substances.

5)     Group tasks: groups are created to accomplish some tasks. Group tasks can range from simple to complex tasks. Simple tasks are routine and standardized in nature whereas complex tasks tend to be novel and non-routine. Generally, the more complex task, the more group will benefit from discussion among members on various alternatives. Of the task is simple, the search for alternatives and thus discussion between group members would be limited.

Group performance and satisfaction tend to be more on complex tasks than when are simple. This is because of three reasons:

The group task requires members to take initiative and use a variety of high-level skills.

Complex task is perceived as meaningful.

Task accomplishment would increase the prestige of the group.

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