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| Group Dynamics Essay

A Persuasive Paper on the Understanding and Personal Practice in Group Work

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” (Vince Lombardi)

Business is an organization that provides goods and service to those people who want and need them. A business organization strives toward a common, noble goal. Each individual who is a part of the organization strives hard to provide its utmost commitment to the business organizations’ goals. The set of individuals that aims to attain a common goal is called a group. Encyclopedia of Business, 2nd ed. defined group dynamics as the attitudinal and behavioral characteristics of a group (McMillan, n.d.). Group dynamics is the study of how groups form, their structure, their process, and how they function. In a business organization, groups are essential and one of its basic elements, the study of groups and group dynamics are important areas in study of organizational behavior. In this paper, groups and group dynamics will be explained and the importance of groups and group dynamics to the business organizational world will be discussed.

Group dynamics is a very important element of the success in a business organization because groups are the most basic component of business organizations. Group dynamics is concerned with why and how groups form and develop. There are many theories that try to explain why groups form and develop. According to George Homans in his classical theory, groups develop and form from shared activities, interactions, and sentiments. This means that a group will develop when people share the same activities, thus, more interaction will result. Then, these interactions will be the basis for the formation of sentiments, whether positive or negative, toward each other (cited by Mcmillan, n.d.). The main element in this theory is the interaction of individuals. Social exchange theory explains that groups form from the individual development of relationships that are based on trust and felt obligation. These individuals promote a certain expectation of mutual benefits will be exchanged. Social identity theory suggests that individuals who join in an identity group tend to have a sense of identity and self-esteem. These kinds of groups are characterized to be demographically based, culturally based, or organizationally based (Mcmillan, n.d.). Studying these theories may help in the mutual understanding exchanged in a business organization. Knowing why people joined the group will be a very important element for the success of an organizational business.

Positive interdependence is the group thinking that each member of the group must succeed in the achievement of their goals for the group to be also successful. Furthermore, group members must realize and must sink into their minds the thought that they “sink and swim together” (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec cited in Positive Interdependence and Individual Accountability, 2008). Positive interdependence promotes the thinking that each group member’s efforts are essential components and are requirements for the success of the group. Furthermore, positive interdependence promotes that each group member has a unique contribution in the group’s efforts because of the resources and roles/responsibilities that a member has (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec cited in Positive Interdependence and Individual Accountability, 2008). This implies that positive interdependence ensures that the group is united towards the attainment of mutual goals (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec cited in Positive Interdependence and Individual Accountability, 2008). This assures the success of the group if the group possesses unity.

Groups are highly favored in business organizational environments. Group work has many advantages that prove that in business organizational work environments, group work is preferred over individual working. Group work promotes more unique and different ideas because there are many brains at work. There will be less time consumed in arriving to a brilliant idea. Therefore, efficiency in creation of ideas will be promoted. Debates will also be promoted to sharpen ideas and make more accurate and precise decisions. Different opinions on each idea will be generated; this results to better outlook on a problem. The fun of working in a group is also an advantage; there will be no dull moments for the person. Knowing more people on different levels is also an advantage to acquire more people in the person’s social circle. Groups are “more flexible, can quickly assemble, achieve goals, and disband or move on to another set of objectives” (Mcmillan, n.d.). Learning to be more flexible and to communicate with different kinds of people will be practiced and sharpened. Skills will be gained from these experiences. On the other hand, individual thinking promotes results that are solely by him. There is limited thinking and vision regarding the problem or idea. Individual thinking is time consuming if the individual wants to arrive to the best decision, idea or solution (Individual thinking versus group thinking, n.d.).Evidence says that group working outperforms individual work when the tasks involved require a variety of skills, experience, and decision making (Mcmillan, n.d.). Mcmillan further argued that the effectiveness of the organization is dependent and limited to the effectiveness of the groups. For a business organization that has groups as one of its major components, group thinking is the most effective way of achieving successful ideas.

Group cohesiveness is another factor that affects the success of a business organization. Group cohesiveness is the bonding of group members and their desire to remain as part of the group. The harder to attain group membership, the more cohesive the group; also, the group becomes more cohesive when competition arises against other groups and survival of the group becomes an issue (Mcmillan, n.d.). Group cohesiveness is very important in a group working environment because it is the one determining the unity and bonding of the group members. Group cohesiveness has many positive effects such as “worker satisfaction, low turnover and absenteeism, and higher productivity” (Mcmillan, n.d.). When a group is more cohesive or bonded, the eagerness of the member to participate in all the activities and meetings that the group has will increase. However, highly cohesive groups can negatively affect the organizational performance of the group if the goals of the groups are misaligned to the goals of the organization. Furthermore, highly cohesive groups are more likely to be subjected to “group think” (Mcmillan, n.d.). Group think happens when members of the group forces each other to arrive into a consensus at the least possible amount of time thus, sacrificing the crucial brainstorming process and debate. This often leads to “careless judgments, unrealistic appraisals of alternative courses of action, and a lack of reality testing” (Mcmillan, n.d.). There are many decision-making problems that arise from highly cohesive group thinking such as “incomplete assessments of the problem, incomplete information search, bias in processing information, inadequate development of alternatives, and failure to examine the risks of the preferred choice” (Mcmillan, n.d.). Group cohesiveness can be improved using group exercises that promote communication and contact with each group member. Examples of these exercises are the cooperative games, creating a group logo, leading the blind game, follow me exercises and listening activities such as gossips (Bergin, 2000). Occasional group get together and bonding are another methods to improve and promote group cohesiveness.

Social interactions and influence affect decision making that is, when a group works together, shares ideas together, interacts together, influence each other, decision making is at its best. Decision making is at its most effective state when all members of the group participate and actively shares, debates, suggest their ideas. For example, problems that require breaking down into parts can be most effectively solved by a group. Group members may use their individual skills for each part of the problem. For a problem that is compact, debates and brainstorming are the most effective ways of solving the problems. But, nonetheless, social interactions are important components of excellent decision making. Social interactions are necessary to promote and discourage member’s proposals. When the group is open to each other, encouragements and discussions can be brought up very lightly. Group bonding and communication is a must to be able to communicate clearly to each member of the group.

Leadership is another major element in groups. Leadership is the process by which an individual guides his fellow towards the attainment of a goal through a more effective and coherent way (Northouse, cited in the Concepts of Leadership, 1997). Leaders are important components of a group. They are the ones that lead and guide their fellow to better grasp the situation and to produce a more comprehensive solution using more coherent methods. Good leaders are made and not born. The skills and attitudes that a good leader possesses are made and polished. “Good leaders develop through a never ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience” (Jago, cited in the Concepts of Leadership, 1997). Leaders are actually part of the groups, good leaders emerge from groups. Good leaders were polished through their experiences and skills that made them rise on top of the group. There are two most important factors that affect effective leadership. Trust and confidence of the members are the essential components for a group member’s satisfaction. Two, effective communication of the leaders towards three main points concerning the members: helping employees understand the company’s overall business strategy, helping them understand how they contribute to achieving key business objectives, and sharing information with them on both how the company is doing and how an employee’s own division is doing — relative to strategic business objectives (Lamb and McKee cited in the Concepts of Leadership). Leaders are components of a group, it is necessary for them to have a peaceful and harmonious relationship. It is an obvious reason that when the group is not working together harmoniously, there will be no good decisions, ideas and solutions.

Business organizations are composed of teams. Teams are belonging to a group that understands the mission and goals of the organization. There are many things that make the distinctions of a team from a group. These are shown in following issues: understandings, ownership, creativity and contribution, trust, common understandings, personal development, conflict resolution, participative decision making, clear leadership, and commitment (10 Ways to Distinguish between a Team and a Group, n.d.). Understandings for a group mean that the groupings are only for administrative purposes only. Understandings for a team means that members acknowledge their worth as individuals and at the same time, acknowledging that individual and team goals are best accomplished with mutual support. Ownership for groups mean that members tend to focus on themselves, while in a team, members feel a sense of ownership for their jobs and unit. Creativity and contribution for groups mean that members are told what to do. They are not encouraged to giving suggestions and creative ideas, while teams believe that members contribute to the success and organization of the team; ideas and suggestions are encouraged. Trust for groups mean that members distrust the motives of colleagues because they do not understand the role of other members. On the other hand, teams work with trust, they encourage thoughts and ideas from each other, questions are also welcome. Common understanding in groups mean that members are so cautious about the things that they say, that honest and real communication is not possible while teams openly and honestly communicate with each other. Personal development in groups mean that members are given good training but are limited to upgrade into other positions while in teams, members are encouraged to develop skills and continue growth. Conflict resolutions in groups mean that members cannot resolve these kinds of conflicts while in teams, conflicts are treated as a normal human situation that initiates creation of new ideas and solutions. Participative decision making in groups mean that members may actually lead to conformity. They do not participate in discussions while in teams, members willingly and eagerly participate in the discussions but they acknowledge the fact that the leader still has the final rulings. Clear leadership in groups is not evident. Leaders in groups tend to work behind their desks while team leaders works in a structured environment that shows and models integrity. Commitment in groups, members are not committed towards achieving excellence and integrity. They have mediocre performances while in teams, commitment towards excellence is one of their primary goals (10 Ways to Distinguish between a Team and a Group, n.d.). From these examples and descriptions, it is clear that teams are more effective in every aspect to working toward a successful goal.

Teams are more effective in situations wherein patience and communication is needed. For example, a demanding business client who wants to order something from their company fast and accurately, if a group is subjected to these kinds of people; they tend to break down and do not think anymore of what is best to do. On the other hand, teams work together with more patience and communication. They treat problems as just a normal part of life that encourages new ideas and solutions. Another example is when conflicts arise with fellow members. Group members think that they do not have to resolve these conflicts. They tend to turn away from these kinds of conflicts because they are not committed enough to produce excellent results. On the other hand, teams encourage these kinds of discussions and acknowledge that these are just normal ways of life that brings about new ideas and solutions. Teams are better goal achievers and problem solvers compared to a normal group set-up. Teams have highly structured goals that enable them to produce excellent work.

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