Advantages and disadvantages


What are the advantages and disadvantages of working in teams? By reference to relevant theory show how can the disadvantages be reduced or avoided

Firstly I would like to do the introduction of groups and team working, secondly i will outline some advantages and disadvantages of working in teams, finally i will put some theories to show how disadvantages can be reduced or avoided.

A team is a group of individuals who work together to produce products or deliver services for which they are mutually accountable. (Mohram, Cohen& Mohrman,1995) Team working is a system where production is organised into large units of work and a group of employees work together in order to meet shared objectives, a team of people work on lager tasksteam members will need to be multi-skilled, well trained and motivated by more than the piece-rate rewards received. (John Wolinski& Gwen Coates, 2004)

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According to Fidler's typology of work groups, he suggested groups could be classified acording to the nature and intensity of interaction necessary for task accomplishment. (Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) There is interacting groups, the members are interdependent, and cooperation and coordination is needed to complete the group task; there is co-acting groups, whereas members work together on a common goal but do so relatively independently; and there is counteracting groups, which individuals work together for the purpose of negotiating and reconciling conflicting demands and objectives. (Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005)

The structure of a group reflects the basis of group identity, according to Meridith Belbin, members of a group should based on a mixture of observation,personality, and ability data. (Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005)

Group norms is important during team working, norm is a rule which governs the behaviour of group members.(Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) Norms in the workplace directly related to performance by dictating acceptable levels of quality and quantity. (Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005)It also determines attitudes toward timekeeping, absenteeism and standards of personal appearance. (Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) In a more general form of norms are the 4 aspect suggested by Guirdham in 1995, they are Fairness, Reciprocity, Reasonableness, and Role expectations.(Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005)

Synergy is where the activities of two or more components when brought together creates more value than do the activities in individuals.(Dave Hall, Rob Jones& Carlo Raffo, 2004) The common sense view of committees is that they take a great deal of time to produce poor quality decisions, however, in most conditions groups outperform even the best member in the team, this phenomenon has been termed synergy.(Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) The benefit of synergy is that discussion in groups generates more alternatives than individuals, it tends to eliminate inferior contributions, errors are more easily to be point out, and it supports creative thinking or there will be more creative ideas.(Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) There might be a negative synergy when the total group output is less than the combined individual efforts.(Buchanan and Huczynski, 2004) If a team have unequal distribution whereas one of the team member contributes more than the others, there will be tensions, conflicts, and problems between the members, and it would also effect the existed privity of team working.(Buchanan and Huczynski, 2004) There is a probability to the happening of social loafing. Social loafing where individual effort decreases as the number of members within the team increases. (Buchanan and Huczynski, 2004)

Cohesiveness is the complex of forces giving rise to the perceptions by members of a group identity.(Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) Cohesive groups may result in greater interaction between members, group members mutually help each other, it make the members feel more belonged and trusted within the group.(Mullins, 2007) Cohesive group members are good at communicating and working together, therefore their production can be better than the less cohesive groups.(Mullins, 2007) Although a cohesive group is note necessarily an effective group.(Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) Cohesive groups do not like to be bound by group norms, it could generate exclusion effects on the team members, they are likely to prescribe 'pro-social behaviours' and 'organizational citizenship'.(Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) Strong cohesive groups may develop a critical or even hostile attitude towards people who are non-member of their group.(Mullins, 2007) They also present potential disadvantages for management, the higher level of output is not guaranteed for cohesive groups.(Mullins, 2007) Further more, there may be a fall in output, with the high level of cohesiveness and attention to social activities.(Mullins, 2007)

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The characteristics of an effective work group is the high commitment to the achievement of tasks, there is a clear understanding of what the group work is, group members need to understand of the roles of themselves in the team, free and open communication between members in group and trusting between team members.(Dave Hall, Rob Jones& Carlo Raffo, 2004) Ideas are shared in the team, group members should be helping each other by offering constructive criticisms and suggestions.(Dave Hall, Rob Jones& Carlo Raffo, 2004) The group members should be motivated to be able to have creations and complete their work in satisfaction in order to achieve its group targets or even develop further.

Reflexivity is the ability of a team to reflect critically on the way it solves tasks or members relate to one another.(Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) It may involve some uncomfortable or socially difficult challenges amongst group members.(Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) Michael West(1996) defines " this essential ingredient of group process as ' the extent to which group members overtly reflect upon the group's objectives, strategies and processes, and adapt them to current or antiquated ... Circumstances'" (Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) Reflexivity may be separated in to two factors, Task and Social.(Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) Reflexive task processes indicates the reflection on group objectives, group strategies, group processes and environment.(Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) While the reflection of indications to reflexivity on the social dimension of group life includes, social support, conflict resolution, member development and team climate.(Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) Therefore non-reflexive groups are not as effective as reflexive groups by failing the emphasis part of a process.(Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005)

Despite, there many disadvantages are related to team working or working in groups. There are some theories which can help to reduce or avoid disadvantages affecting team working. There is a theory which is developed by J. Richard Hackman (1983, 1987, 1990, cited in Buchanan and Huczynski, 2004), it focus on the guidelines that should be pursued to help teams function in their full potential. The first suggestion in the guideline is the task itself need to be ensured which is suitable for the team; secondly is that the team should be recognised as such by its own members and other people in the organisation; thirdly the team need to have clear authority over the working tasks, in other words, they should not be suspicioused by management and other people on their working tasks.(1983, 1987, 1990, cited in Buchanan and Huczynski, 2004) In fourth order, it is crucial that the structure and general culture of the team should be accepted as like the importance to group norms which reflects in team working.(1983, 1987, 1990, cited in Buchanan and Huczynski, 2004) Fifthly in the guidelines that the organisation must support the team as far as possible, the organisation's policies and systems should also reflects of support to obtain group's needs.(1983, 1987, 1990, cited in Buchanan and Huczynski, 2004) Lastly from the guidelines, expert coaching and feedbacks should be provided to the teams when they are in need of it and when team members are ready to receive it or more of it.(1983, 1987, 1990, cited in Buchanan and Huczynski, 2004)

In social identity theory, the basic motivational prospection is the need for self-esteem.(Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) An individual's self-evaluation implicates the group membership, it means that when people perceive positive distinctiveness in other groups they can do one of the three thing, join the outgroup; to change their own perception of negative distinctiveness into positive distinctiveness by redefining the components of that status comparison; thirdly, when the status dimension is a valued resource, the tactics will lead to conflict between two teams.(Robin Fincham & Peter Rhodes, 2005) The solution to intergroup conflict lies in contriving conditions in which shared goals can be perceived, this is based on the assumption that superordinate goals will create a superordinate group.


  • Buchanan, D. & Huczynski, A., 2004.Organisational behaviour: an introductory text.5th ed. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
  • Mullins, L. J., 2007.Management and organisational behaviour.8th ed. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
  • Robin Fincham (eds). (2005). Principles of Organizational Behaviour. New York, United states: Oxford University Press.
  • Ian Chanbers and Dave Gray (eds). (2004). Business Studies. Edinburgh Gate,Harlow,Essex: Pearson Education.
  • John Wolinski (eds). (2004). AQA AS Business Studies. London: Philip Allan.
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