Group Decision Making: Two Sides of the Coin

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The formation of groups can be quite effective in organizations. There are many situations that warrant the use of groups to achieve a desired outcome. Conversely, there are also various situations where individual decision-making would be more effective. This essay sets out to show you various examples of when and where group decision-making should be applied, and also show examples of when the need arises for an individual to make a decision on behalf of a group.

To better understand when it is appropriate to make a group decision or when an individual should take charge, we must examine the various styles of group decision making. According to Davis (2001: 71-73), there are four decision-making styles. Namely the authority or expert style, the consultative style, traditional majority or voting style and the consensus style. The authority decision-making style is where “The boss or manager makes the decision, and everyone is expected to abide by it and help carry it out” Davis (2001: 71). Consultative style is similar to authority style in that one person ultimately makes the decision, but also “gathers input from others” (Davis 2001: 71). Majority or voting style occurs when “the majority seems to think the decision is a good one” (Davis 2001: 71). Finally consensus style occurs when not everybody may agree with the decision, but they agree to try it (Wood, Wallace & Zeffane 2001: 270).

To further extend on the above styles, Edgar Schein (Wood et al 2001) feels that there are various other styles of group decision-making. Decision by lack of interest occurs when “ a course of action is chosen by default” (Wood et al 2001 269), decisions by minority rule occur when a “small sub-group dominates” (Wood et al 2001 269) and decisions by unanimity when it is agreed by all group members ”to pursue the same course of action” (Wood et al 2001 269).

Each of the mentioned decision making styles can be used quite effectively, but “knowing how and when to use...
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