Adding conflict and competition to that precarious situation can be difficult, but is an important part of workplace group dynamics. However, conflict and competition can be both positive and negative components within a group dynamic situation. Jehn and Mannix (2001) discuss intragroup conflict and performance in their Academy of Management article, finding consistent results that implied the important nature of some conflict within workplace groups. The researchers found that groups that performed well exhibited low levels of process conflict, but that the conflict that was there was increasing. However, these groups also had generally low levels of task conflict and only moderate levels of conflict associated with task. Thus, Jehn and Mannix's (2001) findings suggest that some levels of conflict within a group are necessary, and perhaps even beneficial. Without any type of conflict, groups would most likely be described as cohesive, those groups that were prone to groupthink because they tended to form a group identity and spurned the views of those they considered outsiders. However, Jehn and Mannix's (2001) study also found that several characteristics lead to the group's ability to function with little conflict, especially relational conflict, which cannot be described as constructive. Those characteristics included having similar value systems that were previously established, trust among group members, and open discussion regarding conflict. Thus, this suggests that having interpersonally connected groups is, indeed, predictive of positive group function. Thus, like other aspects of group dynamics in the work place, the level of competition and conflict within groups must be at a precious level in order to foster productivity without creating chaos. Conflict must be enough to allow group members to differ on ideas without the fear of retaliation, but not enough to stop group processes. Further competition must be allowed in order to develop individual group members' levels of motivation. Thus, the place of competition and conflict in group dynamics in the workplace further underscores the fact that groups in the workplace take some time to create and maintain, but can be incredibly productive if such creation and maintenance is done correctly.
IV. Task Functions and Conclusion
From decision-making to motivation, to conflict and competition, group pairings within organizations are designed in order to help group members complete tasks. It is this final outcome that is of utmost importance when one assesses the role of groups within the workplace. Tasks in such organizations include coming up with new, innovative ideas in order to progress or grow the business and solving problems encountered by the organization, as well as performing the every-day duties of that organization. Together, members of a group are better able to perform these tasks because they include different points-of-view and perspectives, as well as multiple knowledge bases, and because they motivate each other through, among other things, competition and conflict. However, it is important to note the fact that the group task function includes a holistic approach to problem solving and organizational relations that is used outside of the organizational structure to benefit individuals. Cole (2005) discusses the task-oriented group in conjunction with occupational therapy, stating that groups are often placed together in order to complete a task not because it is the outcome of that task that is important, but because the development of the individual is encouraged in this scenario. In other words, Cole (2005) recounts that she often-times noted similarities in clients' difficulties, suggesting their problems completing tasks in therapy related to their problems completing similar tasks in real life. Through performing tasks in a group, clients were able to discuss their problems, and deal with group-dynamics, feelings, and task completion organically. What can be drawn from this example for the business or organization is the fact that through allowing employees to complete tasks in groups, employees are growing holistically, and are leaning to weave together areas of their life that they have previously kept separate. Interpersonal relationships, feelings, personal life, and occupational task functions are woven together in order for the individual to deal with the completion of tasks. Thus, the individual is able to complete his or her tasks while growing as a person, promoting a new, progressive view of employment, work, and occupation in the 21st century world -- a theory that holds that when a person is improved in one area of his or her life, he or she improves in another. The person with a better personal life has a more seamless occupational life.
Thus, exploring group dynamics, both in the psychological and social field as well as from the occupational or management perspective, suggests the precarious nature of groups in the workplace. While groups can be a beneficial addition to the workplace, they require conditions to be optimal in order to function correctly. However, these conditions should not stop managers from implementing groups in their workplace, as the benefits -- holistically -- for the workers and company itself far outweigh the costs, producing workers who can make better decisions in order to progress the organization.
Baumeister, R.F. & Leary, M.R. (1995). The Need To Belong: Desire for Interpersonal
Attachment as a Fundamental Human Motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117.3, pp. 497-529.
Brown, R. (2000). Group Processes. Wiley-Blackwell. Retrieved July 14, 2009, from http://books.google.com/books?id=e-9OtYRo45cC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_navlinks_s
Cole, M.B. (2005). Group Dynamics in Occupational Therapy. New Jersey: SLACK.
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from http://books.google.com/books?id=FPmZ-olNP94C&dq=Group+Dynamics&source=gbs_navlinks_s
Jehn, K.A. & Mannix, E. (2001). The Dynamic Nature of Conflict: A Longitudinal Study
of Intragroup Conflict and Group Dynamics. Academy of Management Journal, 44.2, pp. 238-251.
Levi, D. (2007). Group dynamics for teams. Sage. Retrieved July 24, 2009, from http://books.google.com/books?id=95r9Qs_GYlUC&source=gbs_navlinks_s