What Are the Advantages & Disadvantages of Working in Teams? with Reference to Relevant Theory Show How the Disadvantages Can Be Reduced or Avoided

Topics: Social psychology, University of Oxford, Sociology Pages: 7 (2326 words) Published: January 15, 2011
“A team is a group of individuals who work together to produce products or deliver services for which they are mutually accountable.” (Cohen & Mohrman, 1995)

Teamwork is used everyday, everywhere in business organisations. It is an important way of bringing people together, developing stronger bonds between members and quickly tackling large projects. There have been many theorists who have developed conflicting theories regarding the pros and cons of working in teams, thus the ageing problem in hand is firstly being able to identify these advantages and disadvantages, and secondly trying to find solutions to reducing or avoiding these disadvantages. The ability to do this is of paramount importance for leaders everywhere from business managers to mountain explorers, and applies to any type of group environment. With this ability, productivity can be maximised, and better results achieved. This essay will consist of four sections, each pairing an advantage with a relevant or conflicting disadvantage, supporting both statements with appropriate theory. Furthermore, the essay will then take the disadvantage and discuss an appropriate solution to the problem before moving to the next section. I hope to shed some light on this highly debateable topic, and leave the reader better informed, and better prepared to use the theory of this essay and the conclusions reached in a practical environment.

It could be considered that one important advantage of working in teams is the fact that each member of the team is mutually accountable for the team’s actions as a whole. The theory of Cohen & Morman, 1995 helps us to develop this idea further. They portray this statement as an advantage of teamwork on the grounds that it is a motivator and encourages each team member to work harder for fear of letting the team down. Turner, 1982 also presents a relevant argument in that competition between groups could be seen as a significant motivator within a team. This ties in with our human nature, and having people to impress within our group brings out our competitive streak. However, the validity of these two statements is governed by limiting factors. Firstly, it highly depends upon how many members there are in the team. As groups get larger in size, there is a tendency for one person to take on more workload and responsibility than the rest of the group, and therefore certain team members may become isolated from the group and become not only less accountable, but also less motivated. There is also the question of whether the team is indeed working in competition with another group or whether they are just working towards a common goal. If the latter is the case then it could be argued that Turner’s statement has no relevance in the given scenario, because another competing team has no influence on the first team, and hence no psychological comparisons between the two teams can be made by the team members of either team, and therefore there is no competing team to motivate the first team. There is the possibility of group conflict arising as a product of these two theories. Guirdham, 1995 presented the idea of four group norms; Fairness, Reciprocity, Reasonableness, Role Expectations. Tuckman, 1965 also presented a theory relating to group formation, saying that every group must go through four phases before they start to work effectively together; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing. If we examine these two theories together we could see that there is evidence to suggest that in the Forming stage of group activity the group norms encourage every team member to get along with each other, respect and conform to these norms. Therefore in the short run each team member is motivated by these norms. However, once a team member abuses one of these norms, morale could be lowered in the long run during the storming stage, and only when the group finds its feet and begins the norming...

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Hall, J. (1971) “Decisions decisions”, Psychology Today, June. In Fincham, R. and Rhodes, P. (2005) Principles of Organisational Behaviour, 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press
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Mohrman, S. A., Cohen, S. G. & Mohrman, Allan, Jr. (1995). Designing team based organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
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