Over the years, a number of organizations have encouraged group work due to its numerous advantages (De Dreu & Weingart, 2003, p. 741). Management theorists have written about group work as a way of speeding up task and discovering new ideas for improvement of the organization. School environment is one of the platforms where teamwork is encouraged, particularly among students to complete their assignment and to test their readiness for group performance in the job market. However, just like any other group setting, the school work group has also not escaped criticisms due its shortcomings such group conflicts which normally arise as a result of lack of group cohesion, cultural differences, social loafing, personal differences and miscommunication. De Dreu and Weingart (2003, p. 741) argued that the conflict within a group is a huge challenge which can make a group not to realize its set goals. Therefore, this essay will reflect on the school work group problem, particularly intragroup conflict and describe and diagnose how lack of the group cohesion, social loafing, less motivation, cross-cultural issues and miscommunication could have contributed to such problems. The essay will also analyze how the factors like leadership style, emotional intelligence, conflict management strategies might have helped manage the situation.
Despite having many individual research papers, professors have sometimes given group work to student to test group coexistence which is highly needed in the job market. The statement reflects the first year in the university. The professor of organization behavior and management told four class members and I to form a group and work on the assignment ‘’classical management”. From my active participation in class, majority of the group members selected me as the group leader. However, this did not go well with everyone. Linda one of the group members openly showed “attitude problem” during one of the group discussion. Linda even sought to join other groups hoping that she would be appointed the group leader. However, this did not materialize as other groups were already full and had leaders too. Joe openly showed low morally, social loafing and did not show seriousness in group discussion. The whole process led to conflict as other member of the group openly complained about Linda and Joe’s attitude and behaviors. At the end, only a few members sufficiently participated in the research and its presentation.
The case depicts intragroup conflict resulted by group cohesion, social loafing, less motivation, cross-cultural issues and miscommunication among others. Lack of group cohesion obviously displayed as two members showed displeasure in the formation and leadership of the group. Park and Shin (2009, p. 35) argued that lack of group cohesiveness resulted from a situation where group member did not take time to know each other before forming the group. In addition, social scientists explain that group cohesiveness develops from an increased interpersonal attraction, sense of belonging, group pride and teamwork (Casey-Campbell & Martens 2009, p.225). However, this can only happen when members of the group have spent sometimes learning about each other outside the group. Since the group was formed in the first semester of first year in the university, members had not spent some time knowing each other hence the group conflict. Research has also found out that group cohesion is influenced by group-oriented rewards. Lack of group cohesiveness manifested in Linda perspective because did get a group reward and in this case, leadership.
Other factors that could have resulted in intragroup conflict are the culture differences and personal differences (Korsgaard et al. 2008, p.1224). University is an arena where people from different cultural backgrounds meet to learn. Cultural differences influenced behavior of some members of the group. Joe, who is an Australian showed social loafing behavior during the group. Aggarwal and O’Brien (2008, p. 252) contended that social loafing is a behavior where an individual put less effort towards attaining a goal particularly in when operating within a group work as opposed to when working as an individual. Cultural difference has been cited as a cause for social loafing (Aggarwal & O’Brien 2008, p. 256). Joe comes from Australia, which is individualistic society, hence negative attitude towards group work. Australian like working alone arguing that it increases speed of projects, improve individual expertise and make one to take responsibility and initiative. Personal differences on the other hand come in when group members have personal interests (Hanif et al., 2016, p. 72). In most cases, some group members often want to demonstrate to others their grasp of issues on the matter at hand and when such platform is absent they will still fight for it thus causing conflict with other members.
Less motivation is also a major contributor of intragroup conflict. Korsgaard et al. (2008, p. 1227) posited that some people come in a group with expectation or self important in search of rewards such as power involvement in decision making and recognition. When these factors are not forthcoming they become less motivated hence they disengage. Linda came with expectation of being appointed the group leader, but that did not material leading to her negative attitude towards group members and the assignment.
Miscommunication has been cited as a contributor of group conflict. Miscommunication manifests itself in the group as a result of cultural differences. Zhu, Nel and Bhat (2006, p.320) opined that people from different background often have different communication style which affects their interaction with others.
Ronen & Shenkar, (2013, p.873) argued that while some people would spend more time building personal relationship with group members, other culture encourage going direct to the business of the day.
Despite of many school work groups experiencing intragroup conflict, research has discovered various concepts which can be used to manage the situation, including using certain leadership style, emotional intelligence and conflict management strategies among others. Participative leadership is very helpful in intragroup conflict. Nemaei (2012) argued that participative leadership can be used to resolve conflict because it encourage meeting with every member of the group and involving them in decision making. This form of leadership also supports listening to a group to enable them air their opinion so that if they have problems, it can be solved before moving on with the tasks. Nemae (2012) asserted that when members of a group are allowed to air their views, they feel valued thus will work towards the organizational goal.
Emotional intelligence is another approach which can help manage conflict within the group. Fiori and Antonakis (2011, p. 330) postulated that people with emotional intelligence should know how to control their emotional feeling to guide their behavior and thinking. Leaders with such trait can also influence or train other members of the group to adjust their emotional intelligence to suit the new environment and even to make an informed decision (Fiori & Antonakis 2011, p. 331). As a group leader one can also use conflict management strategies to manage intragroup conflicts. The group leader and the rest of the group members can decide to be accommodating, avoiding, collaborating, compromising or competing. For group situation, the best practices are to collaborate or compromise. Al Ramiah and Hewstone (2013, p. 529) pointed out that collaboration allows multiple people to bring in new ideas in a quest to get a creative solution which is acceptable to all. On other hand, compromising technique needs the conflict parties to renounce some issues of their stand in bid to create an acceptable solution (Al Ramiah & Hewstone 2013, p. 532). The two technique leaves everyone satisfied hence can work towards set goals.
In conclusion, the essay has found out that several factors can contribute to intergroup conflicts including group cohesion, social loafing, less motivation, cross-cultural issues and miscommunication. A group which constantly experience conflict cannot concentrate to attain organizational goals. The case study is not a true situation of work groups in the university, but also contemporary business organization. To enable positive performance, participative leadership and conflict management strategies must be adopted for group members to feel appreciated to pull in the same direction. The essay also advises the group leadership to use emotional intelligence to influence the group to adjust their behavior and feeling towards realizing the set goals.
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