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CHAPTER III

GROUP & SOCIAL PROCESS


Group Dynamics
Definition: a group is defined as two or more individuals, interacting and
interdependent, who have come together to achieve particular objectives.

Types of Groups
Groups can be either formal or informal.
Formal groups
Formal groups are groups defined by the organizations structure, with designated work
assignments establishing tasks.
The demands and processes of the organization lead to the formation of different types of
groups. Specifically, at least two types of formal groups exist: command and task.
Command Group: The command group is specified by the organization chart and is
composed of the subordinates who report directly to a given supervisor. The authority
relationship between a department manager and the supervisors or between a senior
nurse and her subordinates, the six members making up an airline flight crew is an
example of a command group.
Task Group: A task group comprises the employees who work together to complete
a particular task or project. For example, the activities of clerks in an insurance company
when an accident claim is filed are required tasks. These activities create a situation in
which several clerks must communicate and coordinate with one another if the claim is to
be handled properly. These required tasks and interactions facilitate the formation of a
task group. The nurses assigned to duty in the emergency room of a hospital usually
constitute a task group, since certain activities are required when a patient is treated.

Although organizationally determined, a task groups boundaries are not limited to its
immediate hierarchical superior. It can cross command relationships. For instance, if a
college student is accused of a campus crime, it may require communication and
coordination among the dean of academic affairs, the dean of students, the registrar, the
director of security, and the students advisor. Such a formation would constitute a task
group. It should be noted that all command groups are also task groups, but because task
groups can cut across the organization, the reverse need not be true.
Informal Groups
A group that is neither formally structured nor organizationally determined; appears in response
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to the need for social contact. Informal groups are natural groupings of people in work
environments in response to social needs. In other words, informal groups are not
deliberately created; they evolve naturally. Two specific types of informal groups are
interest and friendship.
Interest Groups Individuals who may not be members of the same command, task
group, or team may come together to achieve some mutual objective. Examples of
interest groups include employees grouping together to present a unified front to
management for more benefits and waitresses "pooling" their tips. Note that the
objectives of such groups are not related to those of the organization, but are specific to
each group.
Friendship Groups Many groups form because the members have something in
common such as age, political beliefs, or ethnic background. These friendship groups
often extend their interaction and communication to off-the-job activities.
We must recognize that these types of interactions among individuals, even though
informal, deeply affect their behavior and performance.
There is no single reason why individuals join groups. Since most people belong to a
number of groups, its obvious that different groups provide different benefits to their
members.

Why do people join a group?


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Security
By joining a group, individuals can reduce the insecurity of standing alone. People feel
stronger, have fewer self-doubts, and are more resistant to threats when they are part of
a group.
Status
Inclusion in a group that is viewed as important by others provides recognition and status
for its members.
Self-Esteem
Groups can provide people with feelings of self-worth. That is, in addition to conveying
status to those outside the group, membership can also give increased feelings of worth
to the group members themselves.
Affiliation
Groups can fulfill social needs. People enjoy the regular interaction that comes with
group membership. For many people, these on-the-job interactions are their primary
source for fulfilling their needs for affiliation.
Power
What cannot be achieved individually often becomes possible through group action.
There is power in numbers.
Goal Achievement
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There are times when it takes more than one person to accomplish a particular task
there is a need to pool talents, knowledge, or power in order to complete a job. In such
instances, management will rely on the use of a formal group.
Stages of Group Development
For many years, we thought that most groups followed a specific sequence in their
evolution and we thought that we knew what that sequence was. But we were wrong.
Recent research indicates that there is no standardized pattern of group development. In
this section, we review the better-known five-stage model of group development, and
then the more recently discovered punctuated equilibrium model.
The Five-Stage Model
From the mid-1960s, it was believed that groups passed through a standard sequence of
five stages. Five stages have been labeled as:
1. Forming
2. Storming
3. Norming
4. Performing
5. Adjourning
1. Forming
It is the first stage, is characterized by a great deal of uncertainty about the groups
purpose, structure, and leadership.
Members are testing the waters to determine what types of behavior are acceptable.
This stage is complete when members have begun to think of themselves as part of a
group.
2. Storming
This stage is one of intragroup conflict. Members accept the existence of the group, but
there is resistance to the constraints that the group imposes on individuality.
Furthermore, there is conflict over who will control the group. When this stage is
complete, there will be a relatively clear hierarchy of leadership within the group.
3. Norming
The norming stage is one in which close relationships develop and the group
demonstrates cohesiveness. There is now a strong sense of group identity and
camaraderie. This stage is complete when the group structure solidifies and the group
has assimilated a common set of expectations of what defines correct member behavior.
4. Performing
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.
5. Adjourning
For permanent work groups, performing is the last stage in their development. However,
for temporary committees, teams, task forces, and similar groups that have a limited task
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to perform, there is an adjourning stage. In this stage, the group prepares for its
disbandment.
High task performance is no longer the groups top priority. Instead, attention is directed
toward wrapping up activities. Responses of group members vary in this stage. Some are
upbeat, basking in the groups accomplishments. Others may be depressed over the loss
of camaraderie and friendships gained during the work groups life.
Many interpreters of the five-stage model have assumed that a group becomes more
effective as it progresses through the first four stages. While this assumption may be
generally true, what makes a group effective is more complex than this model
acknowledges.
Under some conditions, high levels of conflict are conducive to high group performance.
So we might expect to find situations where groups in Stage II outperform those in Stages
III or IV. Similarly, groups do not always proceed clearly from one stage to the next.
Sometimes, in fact, several stages go on simultaneously, as when groups are storming
and performing at the same time. Groups even occasionally regress to previous stages.
Therefore, even the strongest proponents of this model do not assume that all groups
follow its five-stage process precisely or that Stage IV is always the most preferable.
Another problem with the five-stage model, in terms of under-standing work-related
behavior, is that it ignores organizational context. For instance, a study of a cockpit crew
in an airliner found that, within ten minutes, three strangers assigned to fly together for
the first time had become a high-performing group. What allowed for this speedy group
development was the strong organizational context surrounding the tasks of the cockpit
crew. This context provided the rules, task definitions, information, and resources needed
for the group to perform. They didnt need to develop plans, assign roles, determine and
allocate resources, resolve conflicts, and set norms the way the five-stage model predicts.
Group Behavior Model (Explaining Work Group Behavior)

Why are some group efforts more successful than others? The answer to that question is
complex, but it includes variables such as the ability of the groups members, the size of
the group, the level of conflict, and the internal pressures on members to conform to the
groups norms.

Work groups dont exist in isolation. They are part of a larger organization. So every work
group is influenced by external conditions imposed from outside it.
The work group itself has a distinct set of resources determined by its membership. This
includes such things as intelligence and motivation of members. It also has an internal
structure that defines member roles and norms. These factors group member resources
and structure determine interaction patterns and other processes within the group.
Finally, the group process performance/satisfaction relationship is moderated by the
type of task that the group is working on.
External Conditions Imposed on the Group
To begin understanding the behavior of a work group, you need to view it as a subsystem
embedded in a larger system. That is, when we realize that groups are a subset of a larger
organization system, we can extract part of the explanation of the groups behavior from
an explanation of the organization to which it belongs.
Organization Strategy
An organizations overall strategy, typically put into place by top management, outlines
the organizations goals and the means for attaining these goals. It might, for example,
direct the organization toward reducing costs, improving quality, expanding market
share, or shrinking the size of its overall operations.
The strategy that an organization is pursuing, at any given time, will influence the power
of various work groups, which, in turn, will determine the resources that the
organizations top management is willing to allocate to it for performing its tasks. To
illustrate, an organization that is retrenching through selling off or closing down major
parts of its business is going to have work groups with a shrinking resource base,
increased member anxiety, and the potential for heightened intragroup conflict.
Authority Structures
Organizations have authority structures that define who reports to whom, who makes
decisions, and what decisions individuals or groups are empowered to make. This
structure typically determines where a given work group is placed in the organizations
hierarchy, the formal leader of the group, and formal relationships between groups. So
while a work group might be led by someone who emerges informally from within the
group, the formally designated leader appointed by management has authority that
others in the group dont have.
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Formal Regulations
Organizations create rules, procedures, policies, job descriptions, and other forms of
regulations to standardize employee behavior. Because McDonalds has standard
operating procedures for taking orders, cooking hamburgers, and filling soda containers,
the discretion of work group members to set independent standards of behavior is
severely limited. The more formal regulations that the organization imposes on all its
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employees, the more the behavior of work group members will be consistent and
predictable.
Organizational Resources
Some organizations are large and profitable, with an abundance of resources. Their
employees, for instance, will have modern, high-quality tools and equipment to do their
jobs. Other organizations arent as fortunate. When organizations have limited resources,
so do their work groups. What a group actually accomplishes is, to a large degree,
determined by what it is capable of accomplishing. The presence or absence of resources
such as money, time, raw materials, and equipment which are allocated to the group
by the organizationhave a large bearing on the groups behavior.
Human Resource Selection Process
Members of any work group are, first, members of the organization of which the group
is a part. Members of a cost-reduction task force at Boeing first had to be hired as
employees of the company. So the criteria that an organization uses in its selection
process will deter-mine the kinds of people that will be in its work groups.
Performance Evaluation and Reward System
Another organization wide variable that affects all employees is the performance
evaluation and reward system. Does the organization provide employees with
challenging, specific performance objectives? Does the organization reward the
accomplishment of individual or group objectives? Since work groups are part of the
larger organizational system, group members behavior will be influenced by how the
organization evaluates performance and what behaviors are rewarded.
Organizational Culture
Every organization has an unwritten culture that defines standards of acceptable and
unacceptable behavior for employees. After a few months, most employees understand
their organizations culture.
They know things like how to dress for work, whether or not rules are rigidly enforced,
and what kinds of questionable behaviors are sure to get them into trouble and which
are likely to be overlooked, the importance of honesty and integrity, and the like. While
many organizations have subcultures often created around work groups with an
additional or modified set of standards, they still have a dominant culture that conveys
to all employees those values the organization holds dearest. Members of work groups
have to accept the standards implied in the organizations dominant culture if they are to
remain in good standing.
Physical Work Setting
Finally, we propose that the physical work setting that is imposed on the group by
external parties has an important bearing on work group behavior. Architects, industrial
engineers, and office designers make decisions regarding the size and physical layout of
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an employees work space, the arrangement of equipment, illumination levels, and the
need for acoustics to cut down on noise distractions.
These create both barriers and opportunities for work group interaction. Its obviously a
lot easier for employees to talk or goof off if their work stations are close together, there
are no physical barriers between them, and their supervisor is in an enclosed office many
yards away.
Internal conditions of the group
Group Member Resources
A groups potential level of performance is, to a large extent, dependent on the resources
that its members individually bring to the group. In this section, we want to look at two
resources that have received the greatest amount of attention: abilities and personality
characteristics.
Abilities
Part of a groups performance can be predicted by assessing the task-relevant and
intellectual abilities of its individual members. Its true that we occasionally read about
the athletic team composed of mediocre players who, because of excellent coaching,
determination, and precision teamwork, beats a far more talented group of players. But
such cases make the news precisely because they represent an aberration. As the old
saying goes, The race doesnt always go to the swiftest or the battle to the strongest, but
thats the way to bet. A groups performance is not merely the summation of its
individual members abilities. However, these abilities set parameters for what members
can do and how effectively they will perform in a group.
What predictions can we make regarding ability and group performance?
First, evidence indicates that individuals who hold crucial abilities for attaining the
groups task tend to be more involved in group activity, generally contribute more, are
more likely to emerge as the group leaders, and are more satisfied if their talents are
effectively utilized by the group. Second, intellectual ability and task-relevant ability
have both been found to be related to over-all group performance. However, the
correlation is not particularly high, suggesting that other factors, such as the size of the
group, the type of tasks being performed, the actions of its leader, and level of conflict
within the group, also influence performance.
Personality Characteristics
There has been a great deal of research on the relationship between personality traits and
group attitudes and behavior. The general conclusion is that attributes that tend to have
a positive connotation in our culture 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 characteristics such as authoritarianism,
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dominance, and unconventionality tend to be negatively related to the dependent


variables. These personality traits affect group performance by strongly influencing how
the individual will interact with other group members.
Is anyone personality characteristic a good predictor of group behavior? The answer to
that question is No. The magnitude of the effect of any single characteristic is small, but
taking personality characteristics together, the consequences for group behavior are of
major significance.
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 portion of individual
behavior within the group as well as the performance of the group itself. What are some
of these structural variables? They include formal leadership, roles, norms, group status,
group size, composition of the group, and the degree of group cohesiveness.
Formal Leadership
Almost every work group has a formal leader. He or she is typically identified by titles
such as unit or department manager, supervisor, foreman, project leader, task force head,
or committee chair. This leader can play an important part in the groups success so
much so, in fact, that we have devoted an entire chapter to the topic of leadership. In
Chapter 10, we review the research on leadership and the effect that leaders have on
individual and group performance variables.
Roles
Shakespeare said, All the worlds a stage, and all the men and women merely players.
Using the same metaphor, all group members are actors, each playing a role. By this term,
we mean a set of expected behavior patterns attributed to someone occupying a given
position in a social unit. The understanding of role behavior would be dramatically
simplified if each of us chose one role and played it out regularly and consistently.
Unfortunately, we are required to play a number of diverse roles, both on and off our
jobs. As we shall see, one of the tasks in understanding behavior is grasping the role that
a person is currently playing.
An employee has a number of roles that he fulfills on that job. We all are required to play
a number of roles, and our behavior varies with the role we are playing. An individual
behavior when he attends church on Sunday morning is different from his behavior in
the office later on the next day. So different groups impose different role requirements on
individuals.
o Role Identity
There are certain attitudes and actual behaviors consistent with a role, and they create
the role identity. People have the ability to shift roles rapidly when they recognize that
the situation and its demands clearly require major changes.

For instance, when union stewards were promoted to supervisory positions, it was found
that their attitudes changed from pro union to pro management within a few months of
their promotion. When these promotions had to be rescinded later because of economic
difficulties in the firm, it was found that the demoted supervisors had once again adopted
their pro union attitudes.
o Role Perception
Ones view of how one is supposed to act in a given situation is a role perception. Based
on an interpretation of how we believe we are supposed to behave, we engage in certain
types of behavior.
Where do we get these perceptions? We get them from stimuli all around us friends,
books, movies, television. Tomorrows lawyers will certainly be influenced by the actions
of attorneys in the double-murder trial. Of course, the primary reason that apprenticeship
programs exist in many trades and professions is to allow beginners to watch an expert,
so that they can learn to act as they are supposed to.
o Role Expectations
Role expectations are defined as how others believe you should act in a given situation.
How you behave is determined to a large extent by the role defined in the context in
which you are acting. The role of a senator is viewed as having propriety and dignity,
whereas a football coach is seen as aggressive, dynamic, and inspiring to his players. In
the same context, we might be surprised to learn that the neighborhood priest moonlights during the week as a bartender because our role expectations of priests and
bartenders tend to be considerably different. When role expectations are concentrated
into generalized categories, we have role stereotypes.
In the workplace, it can be helpful to look at the topic of role expectations through the
perspective of the psychological contract.
There is an unwritten agreement that exists between employees and their employer. This
psychological contract sets out mutual expectations what management expects from
workers, and vice versa. In effect, this contract defines the behavioral expectations that
go with every role. Management is expected to treat employees justly, provide acceptable
working conditions, clearly communicate what is a fair days work, and give feedback on
how well the employee is doing. Employees are expected to respond by demonstrating a
good attitude, following directions, and showing loyalty to the organization.
What happens when role expectations as implied in the psychological contract are not
met? If management is derelict in keeping up its part of the bargain, we can expect
negative repercussions on employee performance and satisfaction. When employees fail
to live up to expectations, the result is usually some form of disciplinary action up to and
including firing. The psychological contract should be recognized as a powerful
determiner of behavior in organizations. It points out the importance of accurately
communicating role expectations

o Role Conflict
When an individual is confronted by divergent role expectations, the result is role
conflict. It exists when an individual finds that compliance with one role requirement
may make more difficult the compliance with another. At the extreme, it would include
situations in which two or more role expectations are mutually contradictory.
Norms
Did you ever notice that golfers dont speak while their partners are putting on the green
or that employees dont criticize their bosses in public? Why? The answer is: Norms!
All groups have established norms, that is, acceptable standards of behavior that are
shared by the groups members. Norms tell members what they ought and ought not to
do under certain circumstances.
From an individuals standpoint, they tell what is expected of you in certain situations.
When agreed to and accepted by the group, norms act as a means of influencing the
behavior of group members with a minimum of external controls. Norms differ among
groups, communities, and societies, but they all have them.
Formalized norms are written up in organizational manuals setting out rules and
procedures for employees to follow. By far, the majority of norms in organizations are
informal. You dont need someone to tell you that throwing paper airplane or engaging
in prolonged gossip sessions are unacceptable behaviors when the big boss from the top
level is touring the office.
Similarly, we all know that when were in an employment interview discussing what we
didnt like about our previous job, there are certain things we shouldnt talk about
(difficulty in getting along with co-workers or our supervisor), while its very appropriate
to talk about other things (inadequate opportunities for advancement or unimportant and
meaningless work). Evidence suggests that even high school students recognize that in
such interviews certain answers are more socially desirable than others.
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Status
While teaching a college course on adolescence, the instructor asked the class to list things
that contributed to status when they were in high school. The list was long and included
being an athlete or a cheerleader and being able to cut class without getting caught. Then
the instructor asked the students to list things that didnt contribute to status. Again, it
was easy for the students to create a long list: getting straight As, having your mother
drive you to school, and so forth. Finally, the students were asked to develop a third list
those things that didnt matter one way or the other. There was a long silence. At last
one student in the back row volunteered, In high school, nothing didnt matter.
Status that is, a socially defined position or rank given to groups or group members by
others permeates society far beyond the walls of high school. It would not be

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extravagant to rephrase the preceding quotation to read, In the status hierarchy of life,
nothing doesnt matter. We live in a class-structured society.
Despite all attempts to make it more egalitarian, we have made little progress toward a
classless society. Even the smallest group will develop roles, rights, and rituals to
differentiate its members. Status is an important factor in understanding human behavior
because it is a significant motivator and has major behavioral consequences when
individuals perceive a disparity between what they believe their status to be and what
others perceive it to be.
In his classic restaurant study, William F. Whyte demonstrated the importance of status.
Whyte proposed that people work together more smoothly if high-status personnel
customarily originate action for lower-status personnel. He found a number of instances
in which the initiating of action by lower-status people created a conflict between formal
and informal status systems. In one instance he cited, waitresses were passing their
customers orders directly on to countermenwhich meant that low-status servers were
initiating action for high-status cooks. By the simple addition of an aluminum spindle to
which the order could be hooked, a buffer was created between the lower-status
waitresses and the higher-status countermen, allowing the latter to initiate action on
orders when they felt ready.
Whyte also noted that in the kitchen, supply men secured food supplies from the chefs.
This was, in effect, a case of low-skilled employees initiating action to be taken by highskilled employees.
Conflict was stimulated when supply men, either explicitly or implicitly, urged the chefs
to get a move on. However, Whyte observed that one supply man had little trouble
with the chefs because he gave the order and asked that the chef call him when it was
ready, thus reversing the initiating process. In his analysis, Whyte suggested several
changes in procedures that aligned inter-actions more closely with the accepted status
hierarchy and resulted in substantial improvements in worker relations and
effectiveness.
Status and Norms: Status has been shown to have some interesting effects on the power
of norms and pressures to conform. For instance, high-status members of groups often
are given more freedom to deviate from norms than are other group members.34 Highstatus people also are better able to resist conformity pressures than their lower-status
peers. An individual who is highly valued by a group but who doesnt much need or care
about the social rewards the group provides is particularly able to pay minimal attention
to conformity norms.
The previous findings explain why many star athletes, famous actors, top-performing
salespeople, and outstanding academics seem oblivious to appearance or social norms
that constrain their peers. As high-status individuals, theyre given a wider range of
discretion. But this is true only as long as the high-status persons activities arent severely
detrimental to group goal achievement.
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Status Equity: It is important for group members to believe that the status hierarchy is
equitable. When inequity is perceived, it creates disequilibrium that results in various
types of corrective behavior.
The concept of equity presented in Chapter 2 applies to status. People expect rewards to
be proportionate to costs incurred. If Dana and Anne are the two finalists for the head
nurse position in a hospital, and it is clear that Dana has more seniority and better
preparation for assuming the promotion, Anne will view the selection of Dana to be
equitable. However, if Anne is chosen because she is the daughter-in-law of the hospital
director, Dana will believe an injustice has been committed.
The trappings that go with formal positions are also important elements in maintaining
equity. When we believe there is an inequity between the perceived ranking of an
individual and the status accouterments that person is given by the organization, we are
experiencing status incongruence. Examples of this kind of incongruence are the more
desirable office location being held by a lower-ranking individual and paid country club
membership being provided by the company for division managers but not for vice
presidents. Pay incongruence has long been a problem in the insurance industry, where
top sales agents often earn two to five times more than senior corporate executives. The
result is that it is very hard for insurance companies to entice successful agents into
management positions. Our point is that employees expect the things an individual has
and receives to be congruent with his or her status.
Groups generally agree within themselves on status criteria and, hence, there is usually
high concurrence in group rankings of individuals. However, individuals can find
themselves in a conflict situation when they move between groups whose status criteria
are different or when they join groups whose members have heterogeneous backgrounds.
For instance, business executives may use personal income or the growth rate of their
companies as determinants of status. Government bureaucrats may use the size of their
budgets. Professional employees may use the degree of autonomy that comes with their
job assignment. Blue-collar workers may use years of seniority. In groups made up of
heterogeneous individuals or when heterogeneous groups are forced to be
interdependent, status differences may initiate conflict as the group attempts to reconcile
and align the differing hierarchies. As well see in the next chapter, this can be a particular
problem when management creates teams made up of employees from across varied
functions within the organization.
Size
Does the size of a group affect the groups overall behavior? The answer to this question
is a definite Yes, but the effect depends on what dependent variables you look at. The
evidence indicates, for instance, that smaller groups are faster at completing tasks than
are larger ones. However, if the group is engaged in problem solving, large groups

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consistently get better marks than their smaller counterparts. Translating these results
into specific numbers is a bit more hazardous, but we can offer some parameters.
Large groups with a dozen or more members are good for gaining diverse input. So
if the goal of the group is fact finding, larger groups should be more effective. On the
other hand, smaller groups are better at doing something productive with that input.
Groups of approximately seven members, therefore, tend to be more effective for taking
action. 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. It directly challenges the logic that
the productivity of the group as a whole should at least equal the sum of the productivity
of each individual in that group.
A common stereotype about groups is that the sense of team spirit spurs individual effort
and enhances the groups overall productivity.
In the late 1920s, a German psychologist named Ringelmann compared the results of
individual and group performance on a rope-pulling task.0 He expected that the groups
effort would be equal to the sum of the efforts of individuals within the group. That is,
three people pulling together should exert three times as much pull on the rope as one
person, and eight people should exert eight times as much pull. Ringelmanns results,
however, did not confirm his expectations. Groups of three people exerted a force only
two-and-a-half times the average individual performance.
Groups of eight collectively achieved less than four times the solo rate.
Replications of Ringelmanns research with similar tasks have generally supported his
findings. Increases in group size are inversely related to individual performance. More
may be better in the sense that the total productivity of a group of four is greater than
that of one or two people, but the individual productivity of each group member declines.
What causes this social loafing effect? It may be due to a belief that others in the group
are not carrying their fair share. If you see others as lazy or inept, you can reestablish
equity by reducing your effort. Another explanation is the dispersion of responsibility.
Because the results of the group cannot be attributed to any single person, the relationship
between an individuals input and the groups output is clouded. In such situations,
individuals may be tempted to become free riders and coast on the groups efforts. In
other words, there will be a reduction in efficiency where individuals think that their
contribution cannot be measured.
The implications for OB of this effect on work groups are significant.
Where managers utilize collective work situations to enhance morale and teamwork, they
must also provide means by which individual efforts can be identified. If this is not done,
management must weigh the potential losses in productivity from using groups against
any possible gains in worker satisfaction. However, this conclusion has a Western bias.
Its consistent with individualistic cultures, like the United States and Canada that are
dominated by self-interest. It is not consistent with collective societies where individuals
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are motivated by in- group goals. For instance, in studies comparing employees from the
United States with employees from the Peoples Republic of China and Israel (both
collectivist societies), the Chinese and Israelis showed no propensity to engage in social
loafing. In fact, the Chinese and Israelis actually performed better in a group than when
working alone.
The research on group size leads us to two additional conclusions:
(1) Groups with an odd number of members tend to be preferable to those with an even
number; and
(2) Groups made up of five or seven members do a pretty good job of exercising the best
elements of both small and large groups. Having an odd number of members eliminates
the possibility of ties when votes are taken.
And groups made up of five or seven members are large enough to form a majority and
allow for diverse input, yet small enough to avoid the negative outcomes often associated
with large groups, such as domination by a few members, development of subgroups,
inhibited participation by some members, and excessive time taken to reach a decision.
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. Research studies generally substantiate this conclusion.
When a group is heterogeneous in terms of gender, personalities, opinions, abilities,
skills, and perspectives, there is an increased probability that the group will possess the
needed characteristics to complete its tasks effectively. The group may be more conflict
laden and less expedient as diverse positions are introduced and assimilated, but the
evidence generally supports the conclusion that heterogeneous groups perform more
effectively than do those that are homogeneous.
But what about diversity created by racial or national differences?
The evidence indicates that these elements of diversity interfere with group processes, at
least in the short term. Cultural diversity seems to be an asset on tasks that call for a
variety of view-points.
But culturally heterogeneous groups have more difficulty in learning to work with each
other and solving problems. The good news is that these difficulties seem to dissipate
with time. While newly formed culturally diverse groups underperform newly formed
culturally homogeneous groups, the differences disappear after about three months. The
reason is that it takes diverse groups a while to learn how to work through disagreements
and different approaches to solving problems.
An offshoot of the composition issue has recently received a great deal of attention by
group researchers. This is the degree to which members of a group share a common
demographic attribute, such as age, sex, race, educational level, or length of service in
the organization, and the impact of this attribute on turnover. We call this variable group
demography.
14

We discussed individual demographic (biographical) factors in Chapter 2. Here we


consider the same type of factors, but in a group context. That is, it is not whether a person
is male or female or has been employed with the organization a year rather than ten years
that concerns us now, but rather the individuals attribute in relationship to the attributes
of others with whom he or she works. Lets work through the logic of group demography,
review the evidence, and then consider the implications.
Groups and organizations are composed of cohorts, which we define as individuals who
hold a common attribute. For instance, everyone born in 1960 is of the same age. This
means they also have shared common experiences. People born in 1970 have experienced
the information revolution, but not the Korean conflict. People born in 1945 shared the
Vietnam War, but not the Great Depression. Women in U.S. organizations today who
were born before 1945 matured prior to the womens movement and have had
substantially different experiences from women born after 1960.
Group demography, therefore, suggests that such attributes as age or the date that
someone joins a specific work group or organization should help us to predict turnover.
Essentially, the logic goes like this: Turnover will be greater among those with dissimilar
experiences because communication is more difficult. Conflict and power struggles are
more likely and more severe when they occur.
The increased conflict makes group membership less attractive, so employees are more
likely to quit. Similarly, the losers in a power struggle are more apt to leave voluntarily
or be forced out.
Several studies have sought to test this thesis, and the evidence is quite encouraging. For
example, in departments or separate work groups where a large portion of members
entered at the same time, there is considerably more turnover among those outside this
cohort. Also, where there are large gaps between cohorts, turnover is higher. People, who
enter a group or an organization together, or at approximately the same time, are more
likely to associate with one another, have a similar perspective on the group or
organization, and thus be more likely to stay. On the other hand, discontinuities or bulges
in the groups date-of-entry distribution are likely to result in a higher turnover rate
within that group.
The implication of this line of inquiry is that the composition of a group may be an
important predictor of turnover. Differences per se may not predict turnover. But large
differences within a single group will lead to turnover. If everyone is moderately
dissimilar from everyone else in a group, the feelings of being an outsider are reduced.
So, its the degree of dispersion on an attribute, rather than the level, that matters most.
We can speculate that variance within a group in respect to attributes other than date of
entry, such as social background, gender differences, and levels of education, might
similarly create discontinuities or bulges in the distribution that will encourage some
members to leave. To extend this idea further, the fact that a group member is a female
may, in itself, mean little in predicting turnover.
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In fact, if the work group is made up of nine women and one man, wed be more likely
to predict that the lone male would leave. In the executive ranks of organizations,
however, where females are in the minority, we would predict that this minority status
would increase the likelihood that female managers would quit.
Cohesiveness
Groups differ in their cohesiveness, that is, the degree to which members are attracted to
each other and are motivated to stay in the group. For instance, some work groups are
cohesive because the members have spent a great deal of time together, or the groups
small size facilitates high interaction, or the group has experienced external threats that
have brought members close together.
Cohesiveness is important because it has been found to be related to the groups
productivity. Studies consistently show that the relationship of cohesiveness and
productivity depends on the performance-related norms established by the group. If
performance related norms are high (for example, high output, quality work, cooperation
with individuals outside the group), a cohesive group will be more productive than will
a less cohesive group. But if cohesiveness is high and performance norms are low,
productivity will be low. If cohesiveness is low and performance norms are high,
productivity increases but less than in the high cohesiveness high norms situation.
Where cohesiveness and performance- related norms are both low, productivity will tend
to fall into the low-to-moderate range.
What can you do to encourage group cohesiveness? You might try one or more of the
following suggestions:
o Make the group smaller
o Encourage agreement with group goals
o Increase the time members spend together
o Increase the status of the group and the perceived difficulty of attaining
membership in the group
o Stimulate competition with other groups
o Give rewards to the group rather than to members
o Physically isolate the group
Group Processes
The next component of our group behavior model considers the processes that go on
within a work groupthe communication patterns used by members for information
exchanges, group decision processes, leader behavior, power dynamics, conflict
interactions, and the like.
Why are processes important to understanding work group behavior? One way to
answer this question is to return to the topic of social loafing. We know that (1+1+1)
doesnt necessarily add up to three. In group tasks where each members contribution is
not clearly visible, there is a tendency for individuals to decrease their effort. Social
loafing, in other words, illustrates a process loss as a result of using groups. But group
16

processes can also produce positive results. That is, groups can create outputs greater
than the sum of their inputs.
Synergy is a term used in biology that refers to an action of two or more substances that
result in an effect that is different from the individual summation of the substances. We
can use the concept to better understand group processes.
Social loafing, for instance, represents negative synergy. The whole is less than the sum
of its parts. On the other hand, research teams are often used in research laboratories
because they can draw on the diverse skills of various individuals to produce more
meaningful research as a group than could be generated by all of the researchers working
independently. That is, they produce positive synergy. Their process gains exceed their
process losses.
Another line of research that helps us to better understand group processes is the social
facilitation effect. Have you ever noticed that performing a task in front of others can
have a positive or negative effect on your performance? For instance, you privately
practice a complex springboard dive at your home pool for weeks. Then you do the dive
in front of a group of friends and you do it better than ever. Or you practice a speech in
private and finally get it down perfect, but you bomb when you have to give the speech
in public.
The social facilitation effect refers to this tendency for performance to improve or decline
in response to the presence of others.
While this effect is not entirely a group phenomenonpeople can work in the presence
of others and not be members of a groupthe group situation is more likely to provide
the conditions for social facilitation to occur. The research on social facilitation tells us
that the performance of simple, routine tasks tend to be speeded up and made more
accurate by the presence of others.
Where the work is more complex, requiring closer attention, the presence of others is
likely to have a negative effect on performance. So what are the implications of this
research in terms of managing process gains and losses? The implications relate to
learning and training. People seem to perform better on a task in the presence of others if
that task is very well learned, but poorer if it is not well learned. So process gains will be
maximized by training people for simple tasks in groups, while training people for
complex tasks in individual private practice sessions.
Summary and Implications for Managers
Weve seen a lot of topics in this chapter. Since we essentially organized our discussion
around the group behavior model, lets use this model to summarize our findings
regarding performance and satisfaction.

17

Performance
Any predictions about a groups performance must begin by recognizing that work
groups are part of a larger organization and that factor such as the organizations
strategy, authority structure, selection procedures, and reward system can provide a
favorable or unfavorable climate for the group to operate within. For example, if an
organization is characterized by distrust between management and workers, it is more
likely that work groups in that organization will develop norms to restrict effort and
output than will work groups in an organization where trust is high. So managers
shouldnt look at any group in isolation. Rather, they should begin by assessing the
degree of support external conditions provide the group. It is obviously a lot easier for
any work group to be productive when the overall organization of which it is a part is
growing and it has both top managements support and abundant resources. Similarly, a
group is more likely to be productive when its members have the requisite skills to do
the groups tasks and the personality characteristics that facilitate working well together.
A number of structural factors show a relationship to performance.
Among the more prominent are role perception, norms, status inequities, and the size of
the group, its demographic makeup, the groups task, and cohesiveness.
There is a positive relationship between role perception and an employees performance
evaluation. The degree of congruence that exists between an employee and his or her boss
in the perception of the employees job influences the degree to which that employee will
be judged as an effective performer by the boss. To the extent that the employees role
perception fulfills the bosss role expectations, the employee will receive a higher
performance evaluation.
Norms control group member behavior by establishing standards of right and wrong. If
managers know the norms of a given group, it can help to explain the behaviors of its
members. Where norms support high output, managers can expect individual
performance to be markedly higher than where group norms aim to restrict output.
Similarly, acceptable standards of absenteeism will be dictated by the group norms.
Status inequities create frustration and can adversely influence productivity and the
willingness to remain with an organization.
Among those individuals who are equity sensitive, incongruence is likely to lead to
reduced motivation and an increased search for ways to bring about fairness (i.e., taking
another job).
The impact of size on a groups performance depends upon the type of task in which the
group is engaged. Larger groups are more effective at fact-finding activities. Smaller
groups are more effective at action-taking tasks. Our knowledge of social loafing suggests
that if management uses larger groups, efforts should be made to provide measures of
individual performance within the group.
We found the groups demographic composition to be a key determinant of individual
turnover. Specifically, the evidence indicates that group members who share a common
age or date of entry into the work group are less prone to resign.
We also found that cohesiveness can play an important function in influencing a groups
level of productivity. Whether or not it does depends on the groups performance-related
18

norms. The primary contingency variable moderating the relationship between group
processes and performance is the groups task. The more complex and interdependent
the tasks, the more that inefficient processes will lead to reduced group performance.
Satisfaction
As with the role perceptionperformance relationship, high congruence between a boss
and employee, as to the perception of the employees job, shows a significant association
with high employee satisfaction. Similarly, role conflict is associated with job-induced
tension and job dissatisfaction. Most people prefer to communicate with others at their
own status level or a higher one rather than with those below them. As a result, we should
expect satisfaction to be greater among employees whose job minimizes interaction with
individuals who are lower in status than themselves. The group sizesatisfaction
relationship is what one would intuitively expect: Larger groups are associated with
lower satisfaction. As size increases, opportunities for participation and social interaction
decrease, as does the ability of members to identify with the groups accomplishments.
At the same time, having more members also prompts dissension, conflict, and the
formation of subgroups which all act to make the group a less pleasant entity of which to
be a part.
* Quit Video Web

Teams and team work


Teams vs. Groups
A team is always distinguished by the fact that its members are people with complementary
skills who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals, and approach for which
they hold themselves mutually accountable. Groups in general need not have such
unanimity of purpose.
Two or more people who are interdependent, who share responsibility for outcomes,
who see themselves as (and who are seen by others as) an intact social entity in a larger
social system are also called as teams
When teams are formed, its members must have (or quickly develop) the right mix of
complementary competencies to achieve the teams goals. Also its members need to be
able to influence how they will work together to accomplish those goals.

Work groups & work teams


A work group is a group that interacts primarily to share information and to make
decisions to help each member perform within his or her area of responsibility. Work
groups have no need or opportunity to engage in collective work that requires joint
effort. So their performance is merely the summation of each group members
individual contribution devoid of positive synergy that would create an overall level of
performance that is greater than the sum of the inputs. A work team generates positive
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synergy through coordinated effort. The extensive use of teams creates the potential for
an organization to generate greater outputs with no increase in inputs.

Importance of Teams:
1. Teams typically outperform individuals when the tasks being done require multiple
skills, judgment and experience.
2. Teams are more flexible and responsive to change events than are traditional
departments or other forms of permanent groupings. Teams have the capability to
quickly assemble, deploy, refocus and disband.
3. Teams are an effective means for management to democratize their organizations and
increase employee motivation.
4. Teams have the potential to create positive synergy in a shorter time than with
traditional organizational structures.
5. Teams encourage individuals to sublimate their individual goals for those of the
group. They also help disband parochialistic attitudes and fragmented views that
evolve from functional departmentalization.
6. Cross-functional teams are an effective means for allowing people from diverse areas
within an organization (or even between organizations) to exchange information,
develop new ideas and solve problems, and co-ordinate complex projects.
7. The implementation of teams almost always comes with expanded job training
through which employees build their technical, decision-making, problem-solving
and interpersonal skills.
8. Teams focus on processes rather than functions; thus encouraging cross-training and
expansion of skills leading to organizational flexibility. As such, capacity of the
organization to adapt to changing conditions is enhanced.
9. The shift towards knowledge-based rather than production-based work has
necessitated virtual teamwork that enable employees to complete knowledge-based
tasks from a distance through information technology. Globalization and the benefits
of knowledge sharing and teamwork have made virtual teams a necessity.
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Types of Teams:
The four most common forms of teams likely to be found in an organization are:
(1) Functional teams: They usually represent individuals who work together daily on a cluster of
ongoing and independent tasks. Functional teams often exist within functional departments
-marketing, production, finance, auditing, human resources and the like.
(2) Problem solving teams: They focus on specific issues in their areas of responsibility, develop
potential solutions, and often are empowered to take actions within defined limits. Such teams
frequently address quality or cost problems.
(3) Cross-functional teams: They bring together the knowledge and skills of people from various
work areas to identify and solve mutual problems. They draw members from several specialties
or functions and deal with problems that cut across departmental and functional lines to achieve
their goals. They are often more effective in situations that require adaptability, speed and a focus
on responding to customer needs.
(4) Self-managed teams: They normally consist of employees who must work together effectively daily
to manufacture an entire product (or major identifiable component) or service. These teams
perform a variety of managerial tasks, such as,
(a) Scheduling work and vacations by members,
(b) Rotating tasks and assignments among members,
(c) Ordering materials,
(d) Deciding on team leadership,
(e) Setting key team goals,
(f) Budgeting,
(g) Hiring replacements for departing team members, and
(h) Evaluating one anothers performance.
(5)

Virtual teams: A virtual team is a group of individuals who collaborate through various information
technologies on one or more projects while being at two or more locations. Their team member may
be from one or multiple organizations.

Team Roles and Team Effectiveness: Teams have different needs, and people should be
selected for a team to ensure that there is diversity and that all various roles are filled.
We can identify nine potential team roles:
Creator: Initiates creative ideas.
Promoter: Champions ideas after they are initiated.
Assessor: Offers insightful analysis of options
Organizer: Provides structure.
Producer: Provides direction and follow-through
Controller: Examines details and enforces rules.
Maintainer: Fights external battles.
Adviser: Encourages the search for more information
Linker: Coordinates and integrates

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Successful work teams have people to fill all these roles and have selected people to play
in these roles based on their skills and preferences. (On many teams, individuals will play
multiple roles.)
Managers need to understand the individual strengths that each person can bring to a team,
select members with their strengths in mind, and allocate work assignments that fit with
members' preferred styles. By matching individual preferences with team role demands,
managers increase the likelihood that the team members will work well together.

Effective teams have been found to have common characteristics.


The work that members do should provide freedom and autonomy, the opportunity to
utilize different skills and talents, the ability to complete a whole and identifiable task
or product, and doing work that has a substantial impact on others.
The teams require individuals with technical expertise, as well as problem-solving,
decision-making, and interpersonal skills, and high scores on the personality characteristics
of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability.
Effective teams are neither too large nor too smalltypically they range in size from 5 to
12 people. They have members who fill role demands, are flexible, and who prefer to be
part of a group.
They also have adequate resources, effective leadership, and a performance evaluation
and reward system that reflects team contributions.
Finally, effective teams have members committed to a common purpose, specific team
goals, members who believe in the team's capabilities, a manageable level of conflict, and
a minimal degree of social loafing.
Because individualistic organizations and societies attract and reward individual
accomplishment, it is more difficult to create team players in these environments. To make the
conversion, management should try to select individuals with the interpersonal skills to be
effective team players, provide training to develop teamwork skills, and reward individuals for
cooperative efforts.
Once teams are mature and performing effectively, management's job isn't over. This is
because mature teams can become stagnant and complacent. Managers need to support
mature teams with advice, guidance, and training if these teams are to continue to improve.

Power, Politics and Conflict


POWER
DEFINITION:
Power is the ability of one person to influence another is power. It is not the exclusive
domain of leaders and managers. Individuals at all levels of an organization, as well as
outsiders- namely, customers- have the ability to influence the behavior and attitudes of
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others. The term power, authority, and influence are often used interchangeability, but
each has a distinct meaning.
Authority is power vested in a particular position, as with an office manager or human
resource director.
Power refers to a capacity that A has to influence the behavior of B, so that B acts in
accordance with As wishes. This definition implies a potential that need not be actualized
to be effective and a dependency relationship. Power may exist but not be used. It is,
therefore, a capacity or potential. One can have power but not impose it. Probably the
most important aspect of power is that it is a function of dependency. The greater Bs
dependence on A, the greater is As power in the relationship. Dependence, in turn, is
based on alternatives that B perceives and the importance that B places on the
alternative(s) that A controls. A person can have power over you only if he or she controls
something you desire. If you want a college degree and have to pass a certain course to
get it, and your current instructor is the only faculty member in the college who teaches
that course, he or she has power over you. Your alternatives are highly limited and you
place a high degree of importance on obtaining a passing grade. Similarly, if youre
attending college on funds totally provided by your parents, you probably recognize the
power that they hold over you. Youre dependent on them for financial support. But once
youre out of school, have a job, and are making a solid income, your parents power is
reduced significantly. Who among us, though, has not known or heard of the rich relative
who is able to control a large number of family members merely through the implicit or
explicit threat of writing them out of the will?
Contrasting Power, Authority, and Leadership
Power

Authority

Leadership

In contrasting between leadership and power lets use power and authority
interchangeably.
Leaders use power as a means of attaining group goals. Leaders achieve goals, and power
is a means of facilitating their achievement. What differences are there between the two
terms?
One difference relates to goal compatibility. Power does not require goal compatibility,
merely dependence. Leadership, on the other hand, requires some congruence between
the goals of the leader and those being led.
A second difference relates to the direction of influence. Leadership focuses on the
downward influence on ones subordinates. It minimizes the importance of lateral and
upward influence patterns. Power does not.
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Still another difference deals with research emphasis. Leadership research, for the most
part, emphasizes style. It seeks answers to such questions as: How supportive should a
leader be? How much decision making should be shared with subordinates? In contrast,
the research on power has tended to encompass a broader area and focus on tactics for
gaining compliance. It has gone beyond the individual as exerciser because power can be
used by groups as well as by individuals to control other individuals or groups.
Concerning the relationship between power and authority, power represents the capacity
of one person or group to secure compliance from another person or group. Nothing is
said here about the right to secure complianceonly the ability. In contrast, authority
represents the legitimate right to seek compliance by others; the exercise authority is
backed by legitimacy (legally given power, i.e. authority). So when power is legitimate
it becomes authority.
Bases of Power
Where does power come from? What is it that gives an individual or a group influence
over others? The answer to these questions is a five-category classification scheme
identified by French and Raven. They proposed that there were five bases or sources of
power: coercive, reward, legitimate, expert, and referent
Coercive Power
The coercive power base is defined by French and Raven as being dependent on fear.
One reacts to this power out of fear of the negative results that might occur if one failed
to comply. It rests on the application, or the threat of application, of physical sanctions
such as the infliction of pain, the generation of frustration through restriction of
movement, or the controlling by force of basic physiological or safety needs.
Does a person have one or more of the five bases of power? Affirmative responses to the
following questions can answer this question:
The person can make things difficult for people, and you want to avoid getting him
or her angry. [coercive power]
The person is able to give special benefits or rewards to people, and you find it
advantageous to trade favors with him or her. [reward power]
The person has the right, considering his or her position and your job responsibilities,
to expect you to comply with legitimate requests. [legitimate power
The person has the experience and knowledge to earn your respect, and you defer to
his or her judgment in some matters. [expert power]
You like the person and enjoy doing things for him or her. [referent power]
Of all the bases of power available to man, the power to hurt others is possibly most often
used, most often condemned, and most difficult to control . . . the state relies on its
24

military and legal resources to intimidate nations, or even its own citizens. Businesses
rely upon the control of economic resources. Schools and universities rely upon their
rights to deny students formal education, while the church threatens individuals with
loss of grace. At the personal level, individuals exercise coercive power through reliance
upon physical strength, verbal facility, or the ability to grant or withhold emotional
support from others. These bases provide the individual with the means to physically
harm, bully, humiliate, or deny love to others. At the organizational level, A has coercive
power over B if A can dismiss, suspend, or demote B, assuming that B values his or her
job. Similarly, if A can assign B work activities that B finds unpleasant or treat B in a
manner that B finds embarrassing, A possesses coercive power over B.
Reward Power
The opposite of coercive power is reward power. People comply with the wishes or
directives of another because doing so produces positive benefits; therefore, one who can
distribute rewards that others view as valuable will have power over those others. These
rewards can be anything that another person values. In an organizational context, we
think of money, favorable performance appraisals, pro-motions, interesting work
assignments, friendly colleagues, important information, and preferred work shifts or
sales territories. Coercive power and reward power are actually counterparts of each
other. If you can remove something of positive value from another or inflict something
of negative value upon him or her, you have coercive power over that person. If you can
give someone something of positive value or remove something of negative value, you
have reward power over that person. Again, as with coercive power, you dont need to
be a manager to be able to exert influence through rewards. Rewards such as friendliness,
acceptance, and praise are available to everyone in an organization. To the degree that an
individual seeks such rewards, your ability to give or with-hold them gives you power
over that individual.
Legitimate Power
In formal groups and organizations, probably the most frequent access to one or more of
the power bases is ones structural position. This is called legitimate power. It represents
the power a person receives as a result of his or her position in the formal hierarchy of an
organization. Positions of authority include coercive and reward powers.
Legitimate power, however, is broader than the power to coerce and reward. Specifically,
it includes acceptance by members of an organization of the authority of a position. When
school principals, bank presidents, or army captains speak (assuming that their directives
are viewed to be within the authority of their positions), teachers, tellers, and first
lieutenants listen and usually comply.
Expert Power
Expert power is influence wielded as a result of expertise, special skill, or knowledge.
Expertise has become one of the most powerful sources of influence as the world has
become more technologically oriented. As jobs become more specialized, we become
increasingly dependent on experts to achieve goals. So, while it is generally
25

acknowledged that physicians have expertise and hence expert power most of us
follow the advice that our doctor gives us you should also recognize that computer
specialists, tax accountants, solar engineers, industrial psychologists, and other
specialists are able to wield power as a result of their expertise.
Referent Power
The last category of influence that French and Raven identified was referent power. Its
base is identification with a person who has desirable resources or personal traits. If I
admire and identify with you, you can exercise power over me because I want to please
you. Referent power develops out of admiration of another and a desire to be like that
person. In a sense, then, it is a lot like charisma. If you admire someone to the point of
modeling your behavior and attitudes after him or her, this person possesses referent
power over you. Referent power explains why celebrities are paid millions of dollars to
endorse products in commercials.

Power Dependency: The Key to Power


Power is a function of dependence. In this section, we see how an understanding of
dependency is central to furthering our understanding of power itself.
The General Dependency Postulate
Lets begin with a general postulate: The greater Bs dependency on A, the greater the power
A has over B. When you possess anything that others require but that you alone control,
you make them dependent upon you and, therefore, you gain power over them.
Dependency, then, is inversely proportional to the alternative sources of supply. If
something is plentiful, possession of it will not increase your power. If everyone is
intelligent, intelligence gives no special advantage. Similarly, among the superrich,
money is no longer power. But, as the old saying goes, In the land of the blind, the oneeyed man is king! If you can create a monopoly by controlling information, prestige, or
anything that others crave, they become dependent on you. Conversely, the more that
you can expand your options, the less power you place in the hands of others. This
explains, for example, why most organizations develop multiple suppliers rather than
give their business to only one. It also explains why so many of us aspire to financial
independence. Financial independence reduces the power that others can have over us.
What Creates Dependency?
In any situation involving power, at least two persons (or groups) can be identified: the
person attempting to influence others and the target(s) of that influence. Until recently,
attention focused almost exclusively on how people tried to influence others. Only
recently has attention been given to how people try to nullify or moderate such influence
attempts. In particular we now recognized that the extent to which influence attempts are
successful is determined in large part by the power dependencies of those on the receiving
end of the influence attempts. In other words, all people are not subject to (or dependent

26

upon) the same bases of power. What causes some people to be more submissive or
vulnerable to power attempts? Al least the following factors have been identified.
Subordinates values/ Importance.
If nobody wants what youve got, its not going to create dependency. To create
dependency, therefore, the thing(s) you control must be perceived as being important.
To begin, person Bs values can influence his or her susceptibility to influence attempts.
For example, if the outcomes that A can influence are important to B, then B is more likely
to be open to influence attempts than if the outcomes were important. Hence, if an
employee places a high value on money and believes the supervisor actually controls pay
raises, we would expect the employee to be highly susceptible to the supervisors
influence. We hear comments about how young people do not really want to work hard
anymore. Perhaps a reason for this phenomenon is that some young people do not place
to influence behavior. In other words, such complaints may really be saying the young
people are more difficult to influence than they used to be.
Nature of Relationship between individuals, say A and B.
The nature of the relationship between A and B can be a factor in power dependence. Are
A and B peers or superior and subordinate? Is the job performance or temporary? A
person on a temporary job, for example, may feel less need to acquiesce, because he or
she will not be holding the position for long. Moreover, if A and B are peers or good
friends, the influence process is likely to be more delicate than if they are superior and
subordinate.
Counter power
A third factor to consider in power dependencies is Counter power. The concept of
counter power focuses on the extent to which B has other sources of power to buffer the
effects of As power. For example, if B is unionized, the unions power may serve to
negate As influence attempts. The use of counter power can be clearly seen in a variety
of situations where various coalitions attempt to bargain with each other and check the
power of their opponents.
Scarcity
As noted previously, if something is plentiful, possession of it will not increase your
power. A resource needs to be perceived as scarce to create dependency.
This can help to explain how low-ranking members in an organization who have
important knowledge not available to high-ranking members gain power over the highranking members. Possession of a scarce resource in this case, important knowledge
makes the high-ranking member dependent on the low- ranking member. This also helps
to make sense out of behaviors of low-ranking members that otherwise might seem
illogical, such as destroying the procedure manuals that describe how a job is done,
refusing to train people in their jobs or even to show others exactly what they do, creating
27

specialized language and terminology that inhibit others from understanding their jobs,
or operating in secrecy so an activity will appear more complex and difficult than it really
is.
The scarcity dependency relationship can further be seen in the power of occupational
categories. Individuals in occupations in which the supply of personnel is low relative to
demand can negotiate compensation and benefit packages which are far more attractive
than can those in occupations where there is an abundance of candidates. College
administrators have no problem today finding English instructors. The market for
corporate finance teachers, in contrast, is extremely tight, with the demand high and the
supply limited. The result is that the bargaining power of finance faculty allows them to
negotiate higher salaries, lighter teaching loads, and other benefits.
Non-substitutability
The more that a resource has no viable substitutes, the more power that control over that
resource pro-vides. Higher education again provides an excellent example. In
universities where there are strong pressures for the faculty to publish, we can say that a
department heads power over a faculty member is inversely related to that members
publication record. The more recognition the faculty member receives through
publication, the more mobile he or she is. That is, since other universities want faculty
who are highly published and visible, there is an increased demand for his or her services.
Although the concept of tenure can act to alter this relationship by restricting the
department heads alternatives, those faculty members with little or no publications have
the least mobility and are subject to the greatest influence from their superiors.
Uses of Power
As we look around organizations, it is easy to see the manifestations of power almost
anywhere. In fact, there are a wide variety of power based methods used to influence
others. Here we will examine three aspects of the use of power:
(1) Commonly used power tactics in organizations,
(2) Symbols of managerial power,
(3) The ethical use of power.
Common Power Tactics in Organizations
Controlling Access to Information.
Most decisions rest on the availability of relevant information, so persons controlling
access to information play a major role in decision made. A good example of this is the
common corporate practice of pay secrecy. Only the personnel department and senior
managers typically have salary information and power for personnel decisions.
Controlling Access to persons.
28

Another related power tactic is the practice of controlling access to persons. For example
access to top managers.
Selective Use of Objective Criteria.
Very few organizational questions have one correct answer; instead, decisions must be
made concerning the most appropriate criteria for evaluating results. As such, significant
power can be exercised by those who can exercise selective use of objective criteria that
will lead to a decision favorable to themselves. According to Herbert Simon, if an
individual is permitted to select decision criteria, he or she need not care who actually
makes the decision.
Controlling the Agenda.
One of the simplest ways to influence a decision is to ensure that it never comes up for
consideration in the first place. There are a variety strategies used for controlling the
agenda. Efforts may be made to order the topics ate a meeting in such a way that the
undesired topic is last on the list. Failing this, opponents may raise a number of objections
or points of information concerning the topic that cannot be easily answered, thereby
tabling the topic until another day.
Using Outside Experts.
Still another means to gain an advantage is by using outside experts. The unit wishing to
exercise may take the initiative and bring in experts from the field or experts known to
be in sympathy with their cause.
Bureaucratic Gamesmanship.
In some situations, the organizations own policies and procedures provide ammunition
for power plays, or bureaucratic gamesmanship. For instance, a group may drag its feet
on making changes in the workplace by creating red tape, work slowdowns, or working
to rule.
Coalitions and Alliances.
The final power tactic to be discussed here is that of coalitions and alliances. One unit
can effectively increase its power by forming an alliance with other groups that share
similar interests. This technique is often used when multiple labor unions in the same
corporation join forces to gain contract concessions for their workers.
Symbols of Managerial Power
How do we know when a manager has power in an organization setting? Harvard
Professor of Rosabeth Kanter has identified several of the more common symbols of
managerial power. For example, managers have power to the extent they can intercede
favorably on behalf of someone in trouble with the organization. Have you ever notices
that when several people commit the same mistake, someone do not get punished
perhaps someone is watching over them.
29

Moreover, managers have power when they can get a desirable placement for a talented
subordinate or get approval expenditures beyond their budget. Other manifestations of
power include the ability to secure above-average salary increase for subordinates and
the ability to get items on the agenda at policy meetings.
And we can see the extent of managerial power when someone can gain quick access to
top decision makers or can get early information about decisions and policy shifts. In
other words, who can get through to the boss, and who cant? Who is connected, who
is not?
Finally, power is evident when top decision makers seek out the opinions of a particular
manger on important questions. Who gets invited to important meetings, and who does
not? Who does the boss say hello to when he or she enters the room? Through such
actions, the organization sends clear signals concerning who has power and who does
not. In this way, the organization reinforces or at least condones the power structure in
existence.

The Ethical Use of Power


People are often uncomfortable discussing the topic of power, when implies that
somehow they see the exercise of power as unseemly. On the contrary, the question is not
whether power tactics are or are not ethical. The use of power in groups and companies
is a tact of organizational life that all employees must accept. In doing so, however, all
employees have a right to know that the exercise of power within the organization will
be governed by ethical standards that prevent abuse or exploitation. Several guidelines
for the ethical use of power can be identified as listed in the table below.
Basis of power
Referent Power

Expert Power

Reward Power

Guidelines for Use

Treat subordinates fairly


Defend subordinates interests
Be sensitive to subordinates needs, feelings
Select subordinates similar to oneself
Engage in role modeling
Promote image of expertise
Maintain credibility
Act confident and decisive
Keep informed
Recognize employee concerns
Avoid threatening subordinates self-esteem
Verify compliance
Make feasible, reasonable requests
Make only ethical, proper requests
Offer rewards desired by subordinates
Offer only credible rewards
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Coercive Power

Inform subordinates of rules and penalties


Warn before punishing
Administer punishment consistently and uniformly
Understand the situation before acting
Maintain credibility
Punish in private

Several techniques are available that accomplish their aims without compromising ethical
standards. For example, a manager using reward power can verity subordinate
compliance work directives, ensure that all requests are both feasible and reasonable,
make only ethical or proper requests, offer rewards that are valued by employees, and
ensure that all rewards for good performance are credible and reasonably available.
Even coercive power can be used without jeopardizing personal integrity. For example,
a manager can make sure that all employees know the rules of and penalties for rule
infractions provide warnings before punishing, administer punishments fairly and
uniformly, and so forth. The point here is that managers have at their disposal numerous
tactics that they can employ without crossing over questionable managerial behavior.

Politics: Power in Action


When people get together in groups, power will be exerted. People want to carve out a
niche from which to exert influence, to earn awards, and to advance their careers. When
employees in organizations convert their power into action, we describe them as being
engaged in politics. Those with good political skills have the ability to use their bases of
power effectively
Definition:
There has been no shortage of definitions for organizational politics. Essentially,
however, they have focused on the use of power to affect decision making in the
organization or on behaviors by members that are self-serving and organizationally nonsanctioned.
Political behavior in organization is defined as:
o Those activities taken within organizations to acquire, develop, and use power and other
resources to obtain ones preferred outcomes in a situation in which there is uncertainty about
choices.
o Those activities that are not required as part of ones formal role in the organization, but that
influence, or attempt to influence, the distribution of advantages and disadvantages within the
organization.
This definition encompasses key elements from what most people mean when they talk
about organizational politics. Political behavior is outside ones specified job
requirements. The behavior requires some attempt to use ones power bases. Additionally,
the definition encompasses efforts to influence the goals, criteria, or processes used for
31

decision making when we state that politics is concerned with the distribution of
advantages and disadvantages within the organization. This definition is broad enough
to include such varied political behaviors as withholding key information from decision
makers, whistleblowing, spreading rumors, leaking confidential information about
organizational activities to the media, exchanging favors with others in the organization
for mutual benefit, and lobbying on behalf of or against a particular individual or decision
alternative.
In comparing the concept of politics with the related concept of power, it is noted that: if
power is a force, a store of potential influence through which events can be affected,
politics involves those activities or behaviors through which power is developed and
used in organizational settings. Power is a property of the system at rest; politics is the
study of power in action. An individual, or subunit or department may have power
within an organizational context at some period of time; politics involves the exercise of
power to get something accomplished, as well as those activities which are undertaken
to expand the power already possessed or the scope over which it can be exercised.
In other words, from this definition, it is clear that political behavior is activity that is
initiated for the purpose of overcoming opposition or resistance. In the absence of
opposition, there is no need for political activity.
Reasons for Political Behavior
We can identify at least six conditions conducive to political behavior in organizations.
1. Ambiguous goals. When the goals of a department or organization are ambiguous,
more room is available for politics. As a result, members may pursue personal gain
under the guise of pursuing organizational goals.
2. Limited Resources. Politics surfaces when resources are scarce and allocation
decisions must be made. If resources were ample, there would be not need to use
politics to claim ones share.
3. Changing technology and environment. In general, political behavior is increased
when the nature of the internal technology is non-routine and when the external
environment is dynamic and complex. Under these conditions, ambiguity and
uncertainty are increased, thereby triggering political behavior groups interested in
pursuing certain courses of action.
4. Non-programmed Decisions. When decisions are not programmed, conditions
surrounding the decision problem and the decision process are usually more
ambiguous, which leaves room for political maneuvering. Programmed decisions,
on the other hand, are typically specified in such detail that little room for
maneuvering exists. Hence, we are likely to see more political behavior on major
questions, such as long-range strategic planning decisions.
5. Organizational Change. Periods of organizational change also presents
opportunities for political rather than rational behavior. Efforts to restructure a
32

particular department, open a new division, introduce a new product lien, and so
forth, are invitations to all to join the political process as different functions and
coalitions fight over territory.
These are areas that are particularly relevant to the degree to which organizations are
political rather than rational.
Prevailing Conditions

Resulting political behavior

1. Ambiguous goals

1. Attempts to define goals to ones


advantage

2. Limited resources

2. Fight to maximize ones share of


resources

3. Dynamic technology and


Environment

3. Attempt to exploit uncertainty for


personal gain

4. Non-programmed decisions

4. Attempts to make sub-optimal decisions


that favor personal ends

5. Organizational change

5. Attempts to use reorganization as a


chance to pursue own interests and gals.

Legitimate and illegitimate political behavior


Legitimate political behavior refers to normal everyday politics complaining to your
supervisor, bypassing the chain of command, forming coalitions, obstructing
organizational policies or decisions through inaction or excessive adherence to rules, and
developing contacts outside the organization through ones professional activities.
An illegitimate political behavior refers behaviors that violate the implied rules of the
game.
Those who pursue such extreme activities are often described as individuals who play
hardball. Illegitimate activities include sabotage, whistleblowing, and symbolic protests
such as wearing unorthodox dress or protest buttons, and groups of employees
simultaneously calling in sick.
The vast majority of all organizational political actions are of the legitimate variety. The
reasons are pragmatic: The extreme illegitimate forms of political behavior pose a very
real risk of loss of organizational membership or extreme sanctions against those who
use them and then fall short in having enough power to ensure that they work.
The Reality of Politics
Politics is a fact of life in organizations. People who ignore this fact of life do so at their
own peril. But why, you may wonder, must politics exist? Isnt it possible for an
organization to be politics free? Its possible, but most unlikely.
33

Organizations are made up of individuals and groups with different values, goals, and
interests. This sets up the potential for conflict over resources. Departmental budgets,
space allocations, project responsibilities, and salary adjustments are just a few examples
of the resources about whose allocation organizational members will disagree.
Resources in organizations are also limited, which often turns potential conflict into real
conflict. If resources were abundant, then all the various constituencies within the
organization could satisfy their goals. But because they are limited, not everyones
interests can be provided for. Furthermore, whether true or not, gains by one individual
or group are often perceived as being at the expense of others within the organization.
These forces create a competition among members for the organizations limited
resources.
Maybe the most important factor leading to politics within organizations is the realization
that most of the facts that are used to allocate the limited resources are open to
interpretation. What, for instance, is good performance? Whats an adequate improvement?
What constitutes an unsatisfactory job? One persons view that an act is a selfless effort to
benefit the organization is seen by another as a blatant attempt to further ones interest.
Since most decisions have to be made in a climate of ambiguitywhere facts are rarely
fully objective, and thus are open to interpretationpeople within organizations will use
whatever influence they can to taint the facts to support their goals and interests. That, of
course, creates the activities we call politicking.
So, to answer the earlier question of whether or not it is possible for an organization to
be politics free, we can say: Yes, if all members of that organization hold the same goals
and interests, if organizational resources are not scarce, and if performance out comes are
completely clear and objective. But that doesnt describe the organizational world that
most of us live in!
Defensive Behaviors in Organizational politics
Organizational politics includes protection of self-interest as well as promotion.
Individuals often engage in reactive and protective defensive behaviors to avoid action,
blame, or change. This section discusses common varieties of defensive behaviors,
classified by their objective.
Avoiding Action: Sometimes the best political strategy is to avoid action. That is, the
best action is no action! However, role expectations typically dictate that one at least give
the impression of doing something. Here are six popular ways to avoid action:
1. Overconforming. You strictly interpret your responsibility by saying things like, The
rules clearly state . . . or This is the way weve always done it. Rigid adherence to
rules, policies, and precedents avoids the need to consider the nuances of a particular
case.
2. Passing the buck. You transfer responsibility for the execution of a task or decision to
someone else.
34

3. Playing dumb. This is a form of strategic helplessness. You avoid an unwanted task
by falsely pleading ignorance or inability.
4. Depersonalization. You treat other people as objects or numbers, distancing yourself
from problems and avoiding having to consider the idiosyncrasies of particular
people or the impact of events on them. Hospital physicians often refer to patients by
their room number or disease in order to avoid becoming too personally involved
with them.
5. Stretching and smoothing. Stretching refers to prolonging a task so that you appear
to be occupiedfor example, you turn a two-week task into a four-month job.
Smoothing refers to covering up fluctuations in effort or output. Both these practices
are designed to make you appear continually busy and productive.
6. Stalling. This foot-dragging tactic requires you to appear more or less supportive
publicly while doing little or nothing privately.
Avoiding Blame: What can you do to avoid blame for actual or anticipated negative
outcomes? You can try one of the following six tactics:
1. Buffing. This is a nice way to refer to covering your rear. It describes the practice of
rigorously documenting activity to project an image of competence and thoroughness.
I cant provide that information unless I get a formal written requisition from you,
is an example.
2. Playing safe. This encompasses tactics designed to evade situations that may reflect
unfavorably on you. It includes taking on only projects with a high probability of
success, having risky decisions approved by superiors, qualifying expressions of
judgment, and taking neutral positions in conflicts.
3. Justifying. This tactic includes developing explanations that lessen your responsibility
for a negative outcome and/or apologizing to demonstrate remorse.
4. Scapegoating. This is the classic effort to place the blame for a negative outcome on
external factors that are not entirely blameworthy. I would have had the paper in on
time but my computer went downand I lost everything the day before the
deadline.
5. Misrepresenting. This tactic involves the manipulation of information by distortion,
embellishment, deception, selective presentation, or obfuscation.
6. Escalation of commitment. One way to vindicate an initially poor decision and a
failing course of action is to escalate support for the decision. By further increasing
the commitment of resources to a previous course of action, you indicate that the
previous decision was not wrong. When you throw good money after bad, you
demonstrate confidence in past actions and consistency over time.

35

Avoiding Change: Finally, there are two forms of defensiveness frequently used by
people who feel personally threatened by change:
1. Resisting change. This is a catch-all name for a variety of behaviors, including some
forms of overconforming, stalling, playing safe, and misrepresenting.
2. Protecting turf. This is defending your territory from encroachment by others. As one
purchasing executive commented, Tell the people in production that its our job to
talk with vendors, not theirs.
Effects of Defensive Behavior
In the short run, extensive use of defensiveness may well promote an individuals selfinterest. But in the long run, it more often than not becomes a liability. This is because
defensive behavior frequently becomes chronic or even pathological over time. People
who constantly rely on defensiveness find that, eventually, it is the only way they know
how to behave. At that point, they lose the trust and support of their peers, bosses,
subordinates, and clients. In moderation, however, defensive behavior can be an effective
device for surviving and flourishing in an organization because it is often deliberately or
unwittingly encouraged by management.
In terms of the organization, defensive behavior tends to reduce effectiveness. In the short
run, defensiveness delays decisions, increases interpersonal and intergroup tensions,
reduces risk taking, makes attributions and evaluations unreliable, and restricts change
efforts. In the long term, defensiveness leads to organizational rigidity and stagnation,
detachment from the organizations environment, an organizational culture that is highly
politicized and low employee morale.
Political Tactics for Power Acquisition
Once it is understood and accepted that contemporary organizations are in reality largely
political systems, some very specific tactics can be identified to help organization
members more effectively acquire power.
The research conducted by Yukl & Falbe derived nine political, or influence tactics that
are commonly found in today's organizations. These tactics used by individuals to
influence their superiors, co-workers, and subordinates to do what they wanted them to
do. These tactics are:
1.Consultation. Used to gain your support for a course of action by letting you participate
in the planning for the action
2.Rational persuasion. Used to convince you that a particular course of action is "logically"
the best course because it is in your best interest
3.Inspirational appeals. Used to gain support by appealing to your values or ideals, or by
increasing your confidence that the desired course of action will be successful
4.Ingratiating tactics. Used to create a sense of obligation because someone is doing
something nice for you. Designed to make it difficult for you not to support the course
36

of action desired by the ingratiatory.


5.Coalition tactics. Used to gain your support by seeking the help of others to persuade
you, or by using the support of others as an argument for you to also give your
support
6.Pressure tactics. The use of demands, intimidation, or threats to gain your support for a
particular course of action
7.Legitimating. Used to gain your support by claiming the authority to ask for your
support, or by claiming that such support is consistent with organizational policies or
rules
8.Personal appeals. Used to appeal to your feelings of loyalty and friendship in order to
gain your support
9. Exchange tactics. Used to gain your support by the promise that you will receive a
reward or benefit if you comply, or by reminding you of prior favors which you must
now reciprocate
Not all of these tactics are necessarily equally effective in bringing about desired results.
The table below shows the results found in one study where the effectiveness of each tactic
was assessed.

37

Frequency of Outcomes for the Use of Political Influence Tactics


Outcomes
Resistance
Compliance
Influence Tactics
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.

Consultation
Rational persuasion
Inspiration
Ingratiation
Coalition
Pressure
Legitimating
Personal appeals
Exchange

18%
47
0
41
53
56
44
25
24

27%
30
10
28
44
41
56
33
41

Commitment
55%
23
90
31
3
3
0
42
35

The use of influence tactics mainly leads to one of three outcomes:


1. Commitment results when you agree internally with the decision, action, or request,
are enthusiastic about it, and are likely to exert unusual effort to carry out the request.
2. Compliance occurs when you carry out the request but are apathetic about it and
make only a minimal effort to do it.
3. Resistance results when you are opposed to the request and try to avoid doing it.
As can be seen from the table given above, inspirational appeals and consultation
were more effective than the rest of the tactics, with inspiration resulting in
commitment 90 percent of the time it was used.
On the other hand, legitimating, coalition, & pressure were less effective than the
other tactics.
It is important to keep in mind that variables other than the type of influence tactic
used can impact the success of the influence attempt. Even the use of a tactic such
as pressure can sometimes result in commitment.
Likewise, any tactic may result in resistance if it is used in an unskillful manner or
if the request being made is clearly objectionable.
A managers behavior should satisfy certain criteria to be considered ethical. These
include the:
1. Criterion of utilitarian outcomes (the greatest good for the greatest number)
2. Criterion of individual rights (respecting rights of free consent, speech, privacy,
& due process)
3. Criterion of distributive justice (respecting the rules of justice)

38

Conflict
Conflict is part of the human make-up and is so embedded in basic nature that forms
early childhood our interactions with others are full of disagreements. Life at work is not
different, as we spend nearly half our waking life at work. It is not surprising that conflict
is an ever- present feature in all organization.
What Is Conflict?
Conflict is opposition arising from disagreements due to incompatible objectives
thoughts or emotions within or among individuals, teams, departments, or organizations
that are with one another.
Negative View
To many, the word conflict suggests negative situations war destruction, aggression,
violence, and hostility. The traditional view of management typically includes the idea
that conflict was undesirable. Conflict, it was felt, could be reduced or eliminated through
careful selection of people, training, detailed job descriptions, elaborate rules, and
incentive systems. These prescriptions are still useful for reducing and preventing some
undesirable conflicts.
Employees at all levels may also dislike conflict because they feel it interferes with
productivity at all levels may employees believe that conflict disrupts organizational
routines and is, therefore, undesirable.
Positive View
In some ways, the job of mangers and teams is to make sure there is perpetual
constructive conflict Employees and teams that adopt this more positive attitude toward
conflict may view conflict situations as exciting, intriguing and challenging. Conflict may
result in better choices if it does not take place in a setting where people try to score
points and beat one another. Instead, conflict can stimulate a search for the reasons
behind different viewpoints and for effective ways to resolve them. The positive
approach may thus lead to creativity, innovation, and change. By providing employees
with more information about their organization's operations, conflict can show where
corrective actions are needed. Those who adopt this positive attitude, view conflict as a
necessary condition for achieving individual and organization objectives.
Balanced View
Our attitude toward conflict is relative rather than absolute. To us, organizational conflict
is inevitable and may at times may be desirable. It is possible to prevent many conflicts,
but some need to be met and managed instead. Conflicts that often must be managed
include those among co-workers, superiors and subordinates, teams, departments and
the organization and external groups (such as major customers, suppliers, unions, and
government agencies)

39

Categories of Conflict
Classifying conflicts between human beings is not an easy task we can it in a variety of
ways. One useful approach is to single out the participants or players in conflict
situations. Those we can identify in the workplace include the following:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

One single group member (SGM) versus another SGM.


One SGM versus a group of people (GP), i.e. more than one person.
Sub-groups (SGs) within GP (i.e. in conflict with each other).
One GP versus another GP.
An organization -wide group (OWGP) versus another OWGP.

1. The kind conflict which occurs most often in the majority organization is one SGM
versus another SGM such conflicts take many forms a 'clash of personalities' (tow people
who profoundly dislike each other); fight over the allocation of resources (e.g. money
and equipment); a dispute over the relative status of the two, or changes in procedures
( which favor one or the other )
2. Less frequently conflicts arise between an SGM and a GP perhaps a group member falls
out of line with the rest: works harder, or is perceived as a slacker, perhaps, violates some
unwritten rule the group has.
3. Fruitful field for conflict is between a sub-group a sub-group and the main group to
which it belongs.
The sales department might (possibly legitimately) take the view that its prime objectives
were to satisfy customers and maximize sales. A result could be an increasing number
of small orders specials, bringing forward of agreed delivery dates. Part supplies
virtually on demand. Against this, production might (again legitimately) strive for low
unit costs, planned batch or large-run output patterns, scheduled delivery of orders. Both
these sets of laudable objectives taken together are a recipe for arguments, complaints
and much hostility.
4. Similar problems can be found in the stores-versus-finance field (high sticks being
good for production versus keeping the cost of stocks and stock management as low as
possible); and production and inspection, where there is plenty of opportunity for conflict
.
5. An example of an organization -wide group clash would be a-trade union in conflict
with an employer. As problems at this level are usually not in the supervisor's remit we
will not consider them here.
Causes of Conflict
The causes of conflict can now be summarized so far as:
1. Perceived inequitable allocation of resources
2. Interpersonal friction.
3. Differences in status, prestige, power.
40

4. Clashing objectives.
5. Differing sets of values, beliefs.
6. Functional authority being exercised incorrectly
We can identify other causes which originate from the organization and its structure,
rather than from its employees directly. Too many rules and regulation (these can be
created by staff personnel- the specialist groups) poor communication systems (leading
to ambiguities and misunderstanding) and the total value system of the organization.
The Consequences of Conflict
When we think of conflict in terms of argument, debate, competition between
individuals and/or groups, then positive consequences flow:
1. Different ideas, suggestions, strategies, plans of action can be highlighted and
compared.
2. With open discussion and debate on these differences, there is a good chance they
can be resolved, and a consensus set of strategies and plans can be agreed.

Negative outcomes such as these may sometimes occur:


1. The misuse of resources, time, energy and creativity.
2. An increase in hostility.
3. A decrease in trust and openness.
4. A decrease in the ability of groups and the organizations as a whole to achieve the
objectives.

Managing Conflict
The following are the strategies of managing conflict.
1. Avoidance
You may find you always want to avoid conflict altogether, or possibly just avoid certain
kinds-conflict with your boss, perhaps! You might:
1. Bottle up your feelings, turn the other cheek, swallow your pride
2. Slip away or just not notice it.
3. Pretend to yourself-and others-the situation doesnt exist.
You may well adopt these strategies because you cannot bring yourself to face the
difficulties.
Not only may you be left with a guilty feeling caused by your inaction, the conflict you
shield away from may still be out there. Leaving it may indeed make it worse in the
future. Not Recommended
2. Diffusion
Defusing conflict means essentially smoothing things over. By trying to calm everyone
involved down you may buy some time. At a later period small issue may well go away
41

or be resolved. However, the danger is the problem may tick away like a time bomb, and
then suddenly reappear-much more urgent next time.
Again not recommended
3. Confrontation
This procedure requires the whole set of conflicting issues being faced and brought out
into the open. Where members of your group might be involved, then they need
confronting. Its time to say, lets get to the bottom of this.
A difficult strategy because it is high-risk, and people including yourself-may get hurt
emotionally by adopting it. But you may be sure, this is the only certain and dependable
way to resolve conflict.
There are two versions of confrontation, though:
a. The use of power.
b. The negotiation approach.
a. use of power
The power strategy is only available if the conflict manager (e.g. Head of a Division) has
adequate real power in his armory.
This forcing style is the tendency to use power to dominate another person and require
the other person to agree with your position. This style produces outcomes that are
satisfactory to only one of the parities. Force-prone managers may use such phrases as "If
you don't like the way things are done, get out" and "If you can't learn to cooperate I'm
sure others can be hired who will." When someone disagrees with them, they try to cut
her or him off to secure their position.
However, this option means one party, wins. The other party loses.
Win-or-lose situations can be less than satisfactory. The loser may well hang around
waiting for the day when revenge is possible. Certainly resentment and loss of motivation
on the loser's part are potential minus outcomes.
b. Negotiation
Negotiation is not an easy option, but the potential outcomes are much more positive
than with the other two approaches to dealing with conflict. Assuming you are engaged
in attempting to resolve a conflict situation, you must first get the parties concerned to
trust you. Next you try and find as much common ground as there is between the parties,
and encourage them to arrive at an acceptable middle ground. Ideally, the aim would be
for everyone to be satisfied by the deal or arrangement suggested, though the best that
can be managed is usually a compromise where each party 'trades off, that is, wins
something.
Managing a negotiation is a tricky activity: no two situations are the same. You may have
to steer things along if no one is willing to take the first step; but if the parties start

42

negotiating between themselves, you need to slip into more of an encouraging,


supporting and advisory role. Skills required of you are those related to problem solving.
These include ascertaining all the facts (diagnosing the situation), arranging the
negotiations (initiating the process), listening, and assisting in the problem-solving
process. It could result in compromise.
i. Compromise style
The compromise style reflects the tendency of individuals to sacrifice some of their
interests by making concessions to reach an agreement. The attitude of compromise
prone individuals might be expressed as follows: "It let other people win something if
they let me win something" or "I try to hit on a fair combination of gains and losses for
both of us. It achieves a balance between assertive and unassertive behaviors and a
balance between cooperative and uncooperative behaviors. However, some research
suggests that many individuals (including managers) see the compromise style as a very
strong form of cooperation in which the person is trying to satisfy the concerns of others.
The compromise style is likely to be appropriate when:
o Agreement enables each party to be better off, or at least not worse off, than if no
agreement had been reached.
o It simply isn't possible to achieve a total win-win agreement.
ii. Collaborative style
The hallmark of the collaborative style is willingness to identify the underlying causes of
conflict, to share information openly, and to search for mutually beneficial solutions.
The collaborative style of conflict management is especially appropriate when
o The parties involved have one or more common objectives and disagree mainly
over the best means to achieve
o A consensus should lead to the best overall solution to the conflict.
o There is a need to make high-quality decisions on the basis of expert judgments
and the best information available.
Guidelines for Use
Below, five important guidelines are given.
1. Ask for and give feedback on the major points.
2. Consider compromise only after analyzing the real problems and generating
alternative solutions. Remember that the other person's view of reality-though
different-may be just as valid as yours.
3. Never assume that you know that the other person is thinking check out your
assumptions in plain language.
4. Never label (as coward, child) the other person.
5. Forget the past and stick with the here and now. What either of you did last year or
last month or yesterday morning is not so important as what you are doing and
feeling now.

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Summary and Implications for Managers


If you want to get things done in a group or organization, it helps to have power. As a
manager who wants to maximize your power, you will want to increase others
dependence on you. You can, for instance, increase your power in relation to your boss
by developing knowledge or a skill that he needs and for which he perceives no ready
substitute. But power is a two-way street. You will not be alone in attempting to build
your power bases. Others, particularly subordinates, will be seeking to make you
dependent on them. The result is a continual battle. While you seek to maximize others
dependence on you, you will be seeking to minimize your dependence on others. And,
of course, others you work with will be trying to do the same.
Few employees relish being powerless in their job and organization. Its been argued, for
instance, that when people in organizations are difficult, argumentative, and
temperamental it may be because they are in positions of powerlessness, where the
performance expectations placed on them exceed their resources and capabilities.
There is evidence that people respond differently to the various power bases. Expert and
referent power are derived from an individuals personal qualities. In contrast, coercion,
reward, and legitimate power are essentially organizationally derived. Since people are
more likely to enthusiastically accept and commit to an individual whom they admire or
whose knowledge they respect (rather than someone who relies on his or her position to
reward or coerce them), the effective use of expert and referent power should lead to
higher employee performance, commitment, and satisfaction.
Evidence indicates, for instance, that employees working under managers who use
coercive power are unlikely to be committed to the organization and more likely to resist
the managers influence attempts. In contrast, expert power has been found to be the most
strongly and consistently related to effective employee performance. For example, in a
study of five organizations, knowledge was the most effective base for getting others to
perform as desired. Competence appears to offer wide appeal, and its use as a power base
results in high performance by group members. The message here for managers seems to
be: Develop and use your expert power base! The power of your boss may also play a
role in your job satisfaction. One of the reasons many of us like to work for and with
people who are powerful is that they are generally more pleasant not because it is their
disposition, but because the reputation and reality of being powerful permits them more
discretion and more ability to delegate to others. The effective manager accepts the
political nature of organizations.
By assessing behavior in a political framework, you can bet and inept tend to feel
continually powerless to influence those decisions that most affect them. They look at
actions around them and are perplexed at why they are regularly shafted by colleagues,
bosses, and the system.

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