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Keller Graduate School of Management

Case Study Analysis


Building a Coalition

Emily Rector
emily_rector@sbcglobal.net
MGMT 591: Leadership and Organizational Behavior
Instructor: Professor Glenn Palmer
May 24, 2015

Introduction: Case Study Analysis on Building a Coalition


In order for a project to be successful in an organization it should form a diverse team to
head it up. Incorporating diversity within the team will encourage creativity and innovation into
the formation of the processes and solutions that result in the outcome of the project. Each team
member will be able to change and grow by drawing from the different experiences, backgrounds
and skills from each individual. The team needs to have a process in place to communicate and
collaborate openly and listen to all members views, ideas and goals. Diverse work teams will
almost always have a level of conflict within them. Respecting each others different views and
experiences and recognizing that they have been brought together because of a common goal can
result in a more effective resolution process. Regardless of the composition of the group,
differences can be leveraged to achieve superior performance. (Robbins & Judge, 2012 p.58).

Part 1: Group Development


The Woodson Foundation and Washington D.C. public schools are teaming together to
form a new after school program to improve their student outcomes within the community. The
NCPIE (National Coalition for Parental involvement in Education) is also going to have a role in
this program to represent the parents on behalf of the PTA. (Robbins & Judge, 2012 p.629).
When forming a group there is usually five different stages that take place. This group
development process is referred to as the five-stage group-development model. (Robbins &
Judge, 2012 p. 275). The five stage group development model characterizes groups as
proceeding through the distinct stages of forming, storming, norming, performing, and
adjourning. (Robbins & Judge 2012, p. 275). The formation of this program is in the first stages
of forming the team that will consist of representatives from each of these organizations to
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contribute and lead this after school program. While the main purpose of bringing this group
together has been decided upon the structure and executive members have not yet been defined
according to the case study. This puts the development of this after school program within the
first stage of the group development model as defined in the text. The first stage, forming stage,
is characterized by a great deal of uncertainty about the groups purpose, structure, and
leadership. (Robbins & Judge, 2012 p. 275).
In order to create an effective and cohesive team to successfully develop and lead this
after school program the stages of group development need to be understood. Many interpreters
of the five-stage model have assumed a group becomes more effective as it progresses through
the first four stages (Robbins & Judge, 2012 p. 276). Cohesiveness within a team occurs in the
third stage of development called the norming stage. The norming stage is characterized by close
relationships and cohesiveness. (Robbins & Judge, 2012 p. 275). The norming stage is
particularly important in the formation of group development. This stage sets the foundation for a
group to develop their relationships and become cohesive as a group working towards the same
goal or outcome.
In order to get through the first three stages of group development to arrive at the fourth
stage of performing some clearly defined steps need to take place. The fourth stage of
performing is where the group needs to get to in order to create this new agency to develop the
after school program. In the performing stage, the structure at this point is fully functional and
accepted. Group energy has moved from getting to know and understand each other to
performing the task at hand. (Robbins & Judge, 2012 p. 275). The steps that the leadership of
Woodson Foundation and the public school system need to take next are as follows:

1). Select the executive members that will run the executive development team.
2). Set up a meeting with this team to define common goals & purpose, assign roles &
responsibilities of each member, set up the meeting schedule, process and project deadlines and
discuss what the desired outcome of the program will be.
3). Create a climate of trust and cohesion within the group. Have an open forum for the members
to explicitly discuss their views, values and beliefs towards operating and developing this
program.
4). Determine the agreed upon common goals, functions and processes in which the team will
facilitate to create a successful and effective after school program and handbook.
In order for this team to operate in an effective manner to accomplish the program
purpose it is important for the leadership to select the appropriate members to run the new
agency. Some things to consider when doing this are to take a look at the team composition.
The team composition category includes variables that relate to how teams should be staffed
the ability and personality of team members, allocation of roles and diversity, size of the team,
and members preference for teamwork. (Robbins & Judge, 2012 p. 315). They also need to
consider what it takes to create a cohesive team. Cohesive teams ultimately are more productive
and effective at reaching the desired outcome. There are multiple things that can be done to
encourage cohesiveness within the group. (1) Make the group smaller, (2) encourage agreement
with group goals, (3) increase the time members spend together, (4) increase the groups status
and the perceived difficulty of attaining membership, (5) stimulate competition with other
groups, (6) give rewards to the group rather than to individual members, and (7) physically
isolate the group. (Robbins & Judge 2012, p. 288). Ultimately, the group will need to define
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their common goals and purpose towards the outcome of developing a successful and productive
after school program that will benefit all organizations involved.

Part II: Problem Identification


Even with careful selection of the executive team members and following the group
development model conflicts among the members will still arise. All organizations involved
appear to have one main interest regarding this project and that is to improve student outcomes
within their community. There seems to be a few problems that may cause conflict within this
group towards the effective development of the program. The primary problem is that each
organization seems to be fueled by their own interests and beliefs about the process and what it
would take to accomplish the program outcome. For example, School district representatives
want to ensure the new jobs will be unionized and will operate in a way consistent with current
school board policies (Robbins and Judge, 2012 p. 630). The Woodson foundation focus on
using hard data to measure performance for all their initiatives is not consistent with the school
district culture (Robbins and Judge, 2012 p. 630). Then there is the NCIPE which is driven by
a mission to increase parental control and its members are most interested in the process by
which changes are made, ensuring everyone has the ability to weigh in (Robbins and Judge,
2012 p. 630). All of these different interests if not discussed and understood properly can lead to
negative conflict within this group.
The secondary problem is that there seems to be some demographic diversity issues that
may cause negative conflict within this group. Demographics mostly reflect surface-level
diversity, not thoughts and feelings, and can lead employees to perceive one another through
stereotypes and assumptions (Robbins & Judge, 2012 p. 42). These Surface level diversities

include differences in easily perceived characteristics, such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, or
disability that may activate certain stereotypes. (Robbins & Judge, 2012 p. 42). It is important
that the members of the organizations get to know each other on a deeper level so they can move
past these surface level diversities and transform them into deep level diversities. deep-level
diversity Differences in values, personality, and work preferences that become progressively
more important for determining similarity as people get to know one another better. (Robbins &
Judge 2012 p. 42). If the group members can get past their initial assumptions of each
organization and its members and communicate openly to get to know one another it will
positively benefit the dynamics and cohesion within the group.
Conflicts among groups dont always have negative effects. Conflicts among groups in
the development process can actually be a good thing. If handled in a constructive manner these
conflicts bring new ideas and views into creation. These conflicts can help group members to
grow and change. It is also important that this group identify that they have common goals and
purpose for developing this program. Ultimately, they all want the students and community to be
impacted positively through this program. How they handle and resolve their conflicts can
impact the group positively or negatively. Its important to understand that effective teams
resolve conflicts by explicitly discussing the issues. (Robbins & Judge 2012, p. 322).

Part III: Retrospective Evaluation


There could be two possible courses of action to handle these primary problems. First,
they could elect a leader to facilitate all meetings held by the group throughout the program
development process. This leader should be able to relate to and understand the primary interest
of each organization and facilitate the group meeting with an open mind. Meredith Watson would

be a good fit to lead and facilitate the inner working of the group based on her current position
within the Woodson Foundation and her past experience as a teacher. She will be able to relate
and understand all issues and concerns brought forward by each individual in relation to the
organization they represent. Meredith would be a good leader to initiate open communication
allowing all members to speak freely about their wants, needs and beliefs. While also
encouraging each member of the group to listen with respect and have an open mind to each
members ideas and thoughts. Leaders who can get the group to focus on the task at hand and
encourage group learning are able to reduce these conflicts and enhance discussion of group
issues. (Robbins & Judge, 2012 p. 289). Merediths experience on both sides of the spectrum
could prove beneficial in facilitating the development of both the new executive development
team and the new program. A con to electing Meredith to this leadership position is that she
currently works for the Woodson Foundation and other members might have a hard time
excepting that.
The second course of action is to develop a conflict resolution process that needs to be
enforced and followed by each executive member of the group. The conflict resolution process
should have clear principles in place to be followed in order to resolve conflicts that arise within
this group as they work together to develop the program. The conflict resolution process should
involve one leadership member from each organization to have input in the development of the
guiding principles of this conflict resolution process. Therefore, adding value and benefits within
the process for each organization. Having a specific and clear conflict resolution in place before
developing the executive team and program will ensure that conflicts have a positive resolution
and propel the group to collaborate and communicate effectively. A possible negative to this
process is that they wont have an actual leader to facilitate and encourage the use of this conflict
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resolution process. Therefore, possibly allowing the group to not follow this conflict resolution
process and getting stuck by their oppositions delaying the implementation and success of this
program.

Part IV: Reflection


The composition of this program development group is diverse. In order for the outcome of the
program to be successful the leadership managing it should understand the different types of
diversity that occurs within groups. Leaders also need to recognize that differences among
people can lead to miscommunication, misunderstanding, and conflict. Leaders can develop
awareness about these characteristics within the group to effectively manage a diverse work
team. (Robbins & Judge 2012, p. 41). If each executive member can understand the
demographics, background and experiences of each individual organization it will be easier for
them to collaborate together to implement successful processes into this program. If they can
create a sense of cohesion within the group by clearly defining their common goals and getting to
know each other on a deeper level they will also be a more effective and efficient team. They
need to all be working towards the same purpose and outcome that will benefit all members and
organizations collectively.

Source
Robbins, Stephen P., and Timothy A. Judge.(2012). Organizational Behavior, (15th Ed.). Pearson
Learning Solutions, VitalBook file.