Social Loafing in Organisations

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Organizations in today’s society are adopting a team based structure in their approach to tackle company’s challenges, problems and issues. Team based success stories include Hallmark who had a 200% reduction in design time, which allowed for the introduction of 23,000 new card lines in a single year (Janasz, Dowd, Schneider, 2006). But in saying all this there is a factor which causes the positive effect of team work and team cohesiveness to be affected and that is social loafing. Social loafing is more likely to occur in large teams from 3 members onwards, and is where members in the team apply less effort than when working as an individual. Social loafing appears within every team one way or another, even if it’s in a high functioning or dysfunctional environment (Murphy, Wayne Linden, Erdogan, 1992). Research has shown that a combined team performance required less effort by individuals than if they were to work alone, and therefore the social loafer in the team is able to profit from the work of the others without exerting any of their potential. “Loafers and free riders are allowed to benefit because, in each case, the outcome of the group performance…is shared equally by all group members, regardless of their input.” (Weldon and Mustari 1988, p.33) The reason why social loafing is a problem in organisations is because individuals minimize their contributions because they feel that the efforts are not noticed by others in the group (Kerr, 1983). Members may feel that they are able to “hang at the back” or in turn free ride and avoid all the consequences of not contributing any work. In saying that a team member may feel left out and may feel they are not able to gain the recognition to contribute, therefore feeling their efforts are not needed or will not be recognized (Brooks, Ammons, 2003). In a team environment individuals lack the motivation to fulfill their full potential because there is no internal or external evaluation for their contributions, so...
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