Group Work: Does the Big Five Model

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In an increasingly competitive business environment, organizations are seeking to find the key factors that will help them to get ahead of their competitors. One of these factors is how group work can be improved by determining the most essential traits of individual group members. With regards to the Big Five Model, we investigated how group success relates to these five traits: conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness to experience, emotional stability and extroversion. We searched for indications that would support the notion that the personality traits pertaining to the Big Five Model positively affect group success. The personality trait conscientiousness is a component of the Big Five Model that contributes to group performance and group cohesion, which in turn results in group success. It is a trait that consists of six facets. These six facets are competence, order, dutifulness, achievement striving, self-discipline, and deliberation (Costa & McCrae, 1992).

Conscientious people are individuals who are described as being careful, responsible, dependable, persistent, self-motivated and task-oriented (Barry & Stewart, 1997). In particular, as a result of being self-motivated and achievement striving, a conscientious person increases group cohesion by promoting the notion of goals and the steps that lead to these goals. These goals can then build a bond between group members, as they are all trying to achieve the same end. In addition, conscientious members pose a positive externality on the rest of the group by exhibiting persistence and a desire to achieve. The rest of the group members observe this "self-motivation" and in turn can become more motivated themselves to achieve the goals set by the group. Moreover, Hogan and Ones (1997) maintain that being responsible and trustworthy are characteristics of conscientiousness that are fundamental to group cohesion. For instance, having conscientious members in a group implies that these people are more than likely to show up on time for meetings and complete their end of the project. They are also not the type of people that would disclose group information to outsiders or break any promises. This type of behavior that is displayed by conscientious members means that they avoid conflict situations, accept group norms and as a result, reduce the amount of conflict within the group. The elimination of conflict, arguments, and altercations will therefore ultimately increase group success.

The tendency for conscientious individuals to be task-oriented can help to improve the success within a group by improving the performance of the group. By merely possessing the characteristics of being task-oriented and self-disciplined, a conscientious individual helps the rest of the group to stay focused on the task at hand by eliminating or reducing the degree to which social loafing and free riding occur (Barry & Stewart, 1997). Conscientious individuals are committed to getting the job done well and on time, which in a way pushes the rest of the group members to pick up the slack and maintain a performance level that is equivalent to that of the conscientious individuals of the group. Hogan and Ones (1997) present various reasons for the correlation between conscientiousness and job performance: …individuals high on Conscientiousness set goals and persist in attaining them, and, consequently, perform well on the job. So one reason why Conscientiousness predicts job performance is because Conscientious individuals plan and organize their work, spend more time on their job tasks, and persist at performance, all of which result in more job knowledge and superior supervisory ratings of job performance. (p860) Hence, conscientious group members are more committed to the task and are therefore likely to put forth more effort into their work, which is likely to have positive effects on other group members. This in turn improves the overall performance of the group and the success...
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