Archive for May 19th, 2010

Teamwork as a mutable concept, and conflict resolution between groups   no comments

Posted at 3:40 pm in Psychology,Sociology

This last blog post is purely anecdotal, and discussion some of the concepts uncovered as part of the IDR.

Interestingly one thing that is often spoken about in organisations is team-work. I had hoped to include a small paragraph about why organisations are keen to promote good team work and value members or employees with good team work skills. I couldn’t find any good chapters from either psychology or sociology to define it or discuss the mechanisms involved. This led to my own late realisation (rather than any serendipitous discovery) that teamwork is really a buzz word, an undefined concept, that has gained some traction. Fortunately from all reading I have done so far as part of this module I can formulate some of hypothesis for mechanisms behind ‘team work’.

The reasons for group of individuals working as part of a team can be explained using social psychology terms like goal theory, social facilitation and emotions. Even homeostatic theory could arguably be involved as humans can have a daily optimum level of contact or communication with others that they wish to fulfill. So, the next time you are asked at an interview or performance evaluation about what you understand by team work you can say that ‘team work is a complex social phenomenon in which individuals co-operate during activities in order to achieve certain goals, as well as fulfil a certain required level of some personal need, such as to communicate with others. Also, team work is product of social facilitation as it often causes individuals to become more involved and emotional about an activity because they are in the presence of others.’

Returning to why this is relevant for understanding groups, I had initially wanted to look at group behaviour and how it affects outputs. It now appears that fundamentals from sociology and psychology of human behaviour are base of most of the behaviours involved in groups. Applying abstract labels such as team-work can be a useful term to categorise the behaviour of a group working as a team, but looking at fundamentals is essential to understand actions of individuals working as part of a group.

A often cited experiment for understanding group behaviour, especially in relation to prejudice and conflict resolution is the

Robbers’ Cave’s experiment. This involved two groups, each of which were allowed to form a group identity and spend time engaged in some cooperative activities within their group. Later, both groups were entered to directly compete for prizes. Conflicts then quickly developed between the groups after losing rounds of the competition. Conflict resolution, and a reduction in intra and inter group prejudices was achieved by designing co-operative activities where the goals could only be achieved through co-operation of both groups.

I hope you enjoyed the blog posts, the final written report will contain the best of the blog posts plus some other ideas, and the what conclusions I have came to when comparing fundamental information about groups offline to online groups.

Written by cm7e09 on May 19th, 2010

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