The Influence of Team-Building Exercises on Group Attraction

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Miller (2003) states that synchronized teamwork, supported by a healthy communication environment, is a primary means by which organizational decisions are made, strategy is developed, and performance is measured. In order to experience high-performing teamwork, individuals need to feel understood and comfortable when communicating and working with their teammates. This investigation explores the influence of team-building exercises on group attraction. Using an adaptation of Byrne's [1969] original Interpersonal Judgment Scale, the current study proposes that group attraction increases after individuals engage in team-building exercises. The results and implications of the findings for future research and application are discussed.

INTRODUCTION

Synchronized teamwork, supported by a healthy communication environment, is a primary means by which organizational decisions are made, strategy is developed, and performance is measured (Miller, 2003). However, research has shown that simply the presence of communication infrastructure and employee programs to foster communication skills will not guarantee successful communication and subsequent organizational success (Luthans & Sommer, 2005).

Surprisingly, given the enormous amount of resources and attention devoted to improving communication aptitude, very little empirical research links team-building efforts to group outcomes. Research in the communication field has investigated the link between communication and the outcomes of job performance (Pincus, 1986), organizational commitment (Putti, Aryee, and Phua, 1990, Varona, 1996), productivity (Clampit and Downs, 1993), and job satisfaction (Petttit et al., 1997; Pincus, 1986). This study attempts to fill the gap by providing empirical research on the impact of communication on group attraction.

Social categorization theory suggests that member's perceptions of group characteristics influence group performance (Tajfel & Turner, 1990; Hogg & Terry, 2000; Abrams & Hogg, 1999). Empirical studies show that people tend to evaluate information cues from their own group members as being correct (Turner, 1991), and highly relevant (Mackie, Gastardo-Conaco, & Skelly, 1992). People tend to regard members of their own social category as more attractive on dimensions relevant to the group; for instance, accountants tend to think that most accountants are intelligent (Abrams & Hogg, 1990). Seeing others as attractive or adding value could facilitate the exchange of ideas and opinions and increase the degree of success the team experiences. In fact, a recent study by Johnston et al. (in press) links group attraction to financial performance. But the question still remains, what factors influence group attraction?

LITERATURE REVIEW

The current study specifically focuses on the factors that affect group attraction. "Attraction refers to any direct orientation [on the part of one person toward another] which may be described in terms of sign [+ or -] and intensity" [Newcomb, 1961, p. 6]. Newcomb's definition has been employed by most researchers studying attraction [Duck, 1977] . Researchers have also agreed that attraction is a multifaceted activity [Duck, 1977]. For example, if one regards attraction or liking as an attitude about someone, then one would expect to be able to measure the dynamics of the three traditional components of attitudes: cognitive, affective, and behavioral. That is, someone's liking for another person is a function of what he knows about the person, how he feels about it and what he does about it [Kelvin, 1970]. However, one consistent finding from research is that these three parts are relatively independent and what people say does not predict what they will do [Duck, 1977].

Researchers frequently assume that effective communication skills facilitate the development and maintenance of successful, satisfying relationships [McCroskey, Daly, Richmond & Cox, 1975]. …