Task Characteristics & Group Effectiveness in Indian Organizations

Article excerpt

Concept of Group or Team Effectiveness

A lot of Indian firms find their ways through acquisition, strategic alliances and joint ventures, mergers and divestments. They have their concern towards managing change, turnaround and transformation, improving R&D, enhancing creativity, culture building, people issues etc. The present study raises a perspective from HR where ultimately it is the people whose consistent performance enables the company reach the goal. Team effectiveness is important right from the top to the bottom of the organization. We find that the use of team/group has expanded rapidly in response to competitive challenges. Numerous studies have shown how to design empowered or self-directed work teams, parallel learning teams, cross-functional project teams, executive teams, and team-based organizations.

The words "team" and "group" are used interchangeably in this paper. The popular management literature has tended to use the term "team," for example, empowered teams, quality improvement teams, and team effectiveness. The academic literature has tended to use the word "group," for example, group cohesion, group dynamics, and group effectiveness. No differentiation is being made here in the concept of group and team.

Likert (1961) emphasized that management can derive maximum benefit out of it's human resources if the work groups are marked by a high degree of group loyalty, effective skills of interaction and high performance goals. He maintained that an organization may be called successful when, besides maximizing its profit, it makes the greatest use of human capacity consisting of highly effective work groups, linked together in an overlapping pattern by other similarly effective groups. McGregor (1960: 235-40) distinguishes between effective and less effective groups. "The 'good' managerial team is one where the atmosphere is relaxed with people listening to each other without tension. People participate and try to reach an agreement. When disagreements cannot be resolved, the group attempts to live with them, and criticism, while frequent, is constructive but not personal. Evaluation of group performance is constant. On the other hand, a less effective group has little idea of group task objectives. A few people dominate, and their contributions are often not to the point. Disagreements are either suppressed out of fear of conflict, or actual warfare emerges. Meetings produce tension but little of value in reaching any clear goal".

A group's ability to be effective depends particularly upon how well it transforms the resource inputs into group's outputs. The inputs would include the organizational settings, nature of the task, individual attributes and general member characteristics. The group process would include things like norms and cohesion, interaction patterns, decision making and task maintenance activities. These may be related both to required behaviours in the formal systems and the emergent behaviours in the informal systems. The outputs may include the task performance and human resource maintenance. Cartwright and Zander (1960) suggested that a group is more effective if it specializes the tasks of its member.

From the vast literature on group dynamics, few models of group effectiveness which attempt to develop new theoretical perspectives in this area are the work of Cummings (1981), Hackman (1976), and Gladstein (1984) who developed the model of group effectiveness out of the social-technical tradition that focuses on the interaction between leadership skills, technical skills, and group interaction. Guzzo (1986) focuses on three determinants of group effectiveness, namely, task interdependence, outcomes interdependence or the contingency between rewards and group performances, and potency of the collective belief that group can be effective. The work by Gladstein (1984) must be incorporated in this status report because it represents one of the first attempts to pose and to test the comprehensive model of work group effectiveness. …