To What Extent Do Teams Outperform Individuals

Topics: Teamwork, Management Pages: 7 (2510 words) Published: January 23, 2013
In recent decades, as with the development of the economic globalization, the information technology has been updating constantly and the industries in the marketplace are faced with more and more stronger competition. In order to adapt to this severe situation, many enterprises, especially some hi-tech companies, are all trying to seek a new special organizational form, which in turn gives rise to the concept of ‘work team’ to restructure the work and organization process[1]. And nowadays employee teams’ integral in many business operations has been more and more common and normal. Besides, the student team projects are also becoming popular in the school curriculum such as Organizational Behavior, Management Economics and so on. Obviously there are many advantages using teamwork compared with individuals or group. By adopting the team work, the employees can develop every member’s potential, make up for each other, thus working more effectively. In contrast, as to the student team projects, students could learn lots of other expertise in addition to textbook knowledge such as enhancement of students’ learning experiences and realistic preparation of students for their role as future business team members. Team is really extensively applied to many fields [2]. There have existed many different researches about team hitherto which offer many different conceptualizations and research fields. For example, Katzenbach and Smith have discussed the four elements- common commitment and purpose, performance goals, complementary skills, and mutual accountability- that make teams function [3]. There are many advantages to setting up work teams, such as increased productivity, innovation, and employee satisfaction [4]. And some other researches are about the implementation of work teams does not always result in success for the organization [5]. By reviewing these literatures about team, we can arrive at a conclusion that team is so vital not just for business but also in our daily life and generally speaking teams outperform individuals. In addition, the existing body of literature on teamwork’s conflicts and disadvantages is also substantial and provides us many other perspectives [6]. One purpose of this paper is to enrich our understanding of the concept and effectiveness of teams in the process of work or study by distinguishing and comparing ‘team’, ‘group’ and ‘individuals’. What’s more, as to the phenomenon that teams are playing an increasingly important role in business work replacing individuals or groups in many cases, the more important objective is to illustrate to what extent teams perform individuals thus to explain why people always prefer to teamwork than individuals.

Theoretical background
Within the extant organizational behavior literatures, the theory of team and its relevant researches has evolved. Teams have had a long history in the workplace especially in Japan and US but there are some differences between them, for example, work teams in Japan tend to work towards the objectives that will benefit the organization as a whole while in US work teams prefer to work based on their objectives that will reap the most individual benefits in the organization [7]. And people are always confused with ‘group’ and ‘team’ and often use these words interchangeably on different occasions and contexts [8], so what is team? Many scholars have given the definitions of ‘team’ and ‘group’ from different perspectives. Katzenbach and Smith (1993) define work group as a small number of people working in a collaborative style with individual input and accountability and team is defined as a small number of interdependent people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable[3]. It is important to differentiate the two concepts. From the definitions above, we can know that team must be a group but a group is not...
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