Of what use is knowledge of the social psychology of group behavior to the theory and practice of contemporary HRM? Illustrate with examples.

Essay by pp186University, Master's March 2005

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The behaviour of groups have important consequences for management and are important because of the potential impact of group behaviour on organisational performance, this is the primary concern of HRM theory and practice. This essay examines how organisations are utilizing and harnessing groups and looks at culture, leadership, norms, cohesiveness, size, change ....and the problems of conformity, social loafing and conflict. This essay looks at aspects of behaviour that are prevalent in all groups and which management must understand if poor performance, conflict, misunderstanding and bad communication are to be avoided.

Homans (1950) defines groups as 'a collection of two or more persons who interact with each other in such a way that each influences and is influenced by others'.

Moreover, much of organisational life can be organised around groups, hence organisations can capitalise on the power of groups to influence work attitudes and behaviour (Leavitt, 1975).

A key point managers must learn is that the behaviour patterns occurring within any group are directly linked to its performance or its task achievement (Shaw, 1981).

Groups which manage themselves poorly or are managed poorly, are less effective in accomplishing tasks and making accurate and intelligent decisions.

It is important to distinguish between formal and informal groups. Formal groups are designed and created around particular tasks and mostly determined by functional differentiation. Whereas informal groups are the focus of information sharing, test new ideas, act as sounding boards.

Informal groups can also work against management aims, e.g. even with incentive schemes, employees will not necessarily aim at the highest output they can achieve. Instead employees may establish their own output norm considerably less than should be maintained. (e.g. natural soldering??) Such groups may establish elaborate procedures for ensuring this norm is attained but not exceeded. This raises the question of conformity because...