Twelve Angry Men: An Analysis of Group Effectiveness The Infrareds Ruth Bradner, Penelope McFarline, Michelle McGregor, Jonathon West VCU ADLT 612 Dr. Terry Carter, Professor
2 Twelve Angry Men: An Analysis of Group Effectiveness Introduction Twelve men with diverse backgrounds are sequestered in a room and are unable to leave until a decision, a weighty one that will either condemn a young man to death or set him free, is made. The twelve strangers are bound to each other, trapped within the confines of four immovable walls, until the goal is achieved. They melt in the humidity of middle summer, which is exacerbated by the room's stuffiness and by the stress of their task. We, the audience, sweat as they grapple with each other and with the responsibility that is theirs to fulfill. One could spend a great deal of time debating if the jurors who comprised the cast of “Twelve Angry Men” (Lumet, 1957) were a group or a team. One could, and we will, cite definitions and descriptions from the literature to justify one conclusion or the other. The questions that are more interesting to us, and that constitute the thesis of this paper, are these: Were the jurors an effective group (or team)? And what factors contributed to group effectiveness? Schwarz (2002) has proposed a Group Effectiveness Model that provides facilitators who work with dysfunctional groups a road map, a way to identify where groups have gone wrong. Schwarz identifies three criteria for judging group success: performance, personal and process. If what the group produces meets or exceeds expectations (performance); if group members grow and develop through the group experience (personal) and if the group learns to work together (process), then the group has experienced some success. In addition, Schwarz identifies elements that are essential to the group work itself. These are group context, structure and process. In this paper, we will examine the twelve jurors' effectiveness as a group by comparing them against Schwarz's Group Effectiveness Model. Most notably, we will identify the elements of group
3 effectiveness most clearly demonstrated in “Twelve Angry Men” (Lumet, 1957) and measure the group’s success against Schwarz's criteria. In some cases, we will examine Schwarz's elements of group effectiveness from a slightly different angle, a different perspective that references the ideas of notable experts in the field of group dynamics. In particular, we will incorporate the works of Levi (2007) and Smith and Berg (1987). Group Context Group context is defined as the setting in which the group operates and the elements that support its work. In Schwarz's (2002) view, it is important that effective groups have a clearly stated mission; a supportive, broader organizational culture; appropriate rewards; information and feedback; a physical environment conducive to the group work; and other supports such as training, technology and necessary resources. For the purposes of this paper, group context is the category on which we will focus the least, however we do offer the following comments on the context in which the twelve angry jurors operated. Groups operate best when their mission is clear and the members share a vision with the broader organization (Schwarz, 2002). In the case of “Twelve Angry Men” (Lumet, 1957), the broader organization could be considered the U.S. justice system. While there were several instances of involved parties reminding the jury of their goal (the judge reminder before the jury retired for deliberation; the foreman repeated their purpose during deliberation), the jury members clearly struggled to embrace their mission (why do we exist?) and share the vision (how do we look?). As eloquently described by the international juror who had recently become a U.S. citizen, the vision of the American justice system is built upon a jurisprudence tenet that all people deserve a fair trial and are innocent until proven guilty. Most...
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