Understanding group dynamics

Decision Analytics
Owen Seamons
[email protected]

Welcome Module Three of MGT 602
Module Three Covers:
Differences between an
individual’s decisions and group
-based decisions
Ways of working: groups versus
Understanding group dynamics
Ways of dealing with groups,
teams in decision making
Overcoming problems with
group-based decision making
Compare, contrast and critically evaluate
sources of data
as influences in traditional
and virtual team decision making
Compare and critically evaluate sources of
data as influences for decision making in a
range of business contexts
Examine and evaluate decision-making
and techniques which engage
groups in their decision making
Analyse how these systems, processes can
enhance sustainable
outcomes, explain
organisational change and interventions
Western society generally places greater value on the individual over the
group. In reality, we are more likely to make decisions in groups.
Recent research has found groups often fail to make good quality
. Much flawed decision making by groups can be explained
failure of group members to engage with others.
Decisions made by groups can be less reliable than those made by
individuals for several reasons, including
Group related information processing biases; overly restrictive
leadership; errors in group members’ communications; group
polarisation; social loafing, or combinations of these errors, biases
A major challenge in group-based decision making can be attributed to
‘groupthink’ 4
Forming Teams for Assignment Two, due week 8
By the end of week five (5), students will need to have
who are their fellow team members
(minimum 3 Required),
where they are situated, and an
agreed means of communicating virtually with one
Thought will need to be given to constructing an
information management base
to house data made
available and around which your team’s decisions,
conclusions, recommendations and justifications can be
made, assignment two written up and submitted.
Oral Team Presentation
All teams will need to prepare a short oral
presentation in week 7 or 8
Each team member to present
Purpose is to get feedback from the class on your
report at that stage
I will select which teams will present on the day
Team can supply up to 5 PowerPoint slides to explain
their report

Thinking About Forming a Team
Identify differences in decision style and personality type between team
members in advance of forming up the team
Review established theories, accepted practices relating to group dynamics
and group processes.
Consider the challenges of working in virtual teams and identify ways in which
your team can best communicate.
Take account of team members’ individual differences in decision
preferences, personalities, styles when establishing rules.
Reflect on how you worked with your fellow virtual team members by
establishing Team Rules and members’ roles.
Some Differences Between a Team and a Group

Work Team Work Group
Leader acts as a facilitator Leader controls the group
Members actively participate in
discussions, make decisions and
contribute to eventual outcomes
Leadership control is clear as to
who will conduct the meeting,
make decisions.
Team members decide on
of work assignments
Leader usually decides schedules,
assigns work to members.



Your Team Position
List 3 things that you will contribute to your

Who am I?
Write 3 truths and 1 lie
about yourself.
You will then read them
out in any order you wish
We have to guess which
is truth and which is lie
and why.

Common Thread
Group-based Decision Challenges
Decisions made by groups can be less reliable than those made by
individuals for several reasons:
Group related information processing biases;
Overly restrictive leadership;
Errors in group members’ communications;
Group polarisation;
Social loafing;
Failure to voice dissent in efforts to protect reputations;
Combinations of these errors, biases, or wilful behaviour
Social Disruption and Group Decisions
Advances in digital technology have brought about large scale
social disruption
Organisations striving to provide faster, more efficient
operations have moved to
networked structures
Rather than working face-to-face networked team members
work separately,
connected by technology
Virtual team membership offers high speed communication
through advanced technology but
often low levels of psychosocial interaction
Facilitating virtual team members’ engagement and decision
processes is a major 21
st century challenge for managers
Team Exercise
Individual Versus Group Decisions
This far, we have considered individual level decision making
Need to look into group-based decision making and factors
contributing to errors, flawed decisions
Theory has it that (through group diversity), innovative
decision making is best left to groups, over individuals
Groups capable of ‘groupthink’ type decisions where an
unquestioning attitude is supported by the group’s need to
maintain harmony
Need for managers to hold a sound understanding of group
process, group relations, and the
dynamics of group-based
decision making
Availability Heuristic
The availability heuristic is a mental shortcut that relies on
immediate examples that come to a given person’s mind
when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method or
Cognitive Ease
Cognitive ease or fluency is the measure of how easy it is
for our brains to process information. The
Cognitive ease
associated with something will alter how we feel about it
and whether we are motivated to invest our time and
effort in it.

Groupthink” is the term most often applied to the
tendency of groups to go astray.
Discussion on Individuals versus Groups
Greater value placed on individual over groups?
View the video exploring differences between individual
level and group-based decision making.
https://youtu.be/m9La78lZT_A **
Discuss the following:
What are the essential differences between individuals
and groups in their information processing.
Differences between small groups (2-10)and large groups
(15-25) in their likely communication, work performances
Identify, describe the effects of task differences on
individual, and on group performance

Learning Activity 3.6: Strengths and Weaknesses
Identify and Describe the essential strengths of group-based
decision making, the essential weaknesses
What importance would you place on the definition and
clarification of roles in group formation and decision making?
How should the manager address the sometimes-competing
needs of individual team members, the team’s needs and the
needs of the task on decision making quality?
How might the manager address the competing challenges of
social isolation among team members and drive for
conformity in team decision making?
What is a ‘devil’s advocate’? How can the role be established
and what would you expect to come out of the devil’s
advocate role in your team’s functioning?

Making Better Decisions In Groups
Do groups make better decisions than
Yes. When groups have diversity of thinking and
All are listened to…and
There is independence in thinking…and
The status quo is challenged…and
There are checks and balances
Unconscious bias is monitored
Making Decisions In Groups
View and discuss the video:
See full article: Bang,D. & Frith, C. (2017). Making better decisions in groups.
Royal Society Open Science. Retrieved from
Describe some different social aspects of individuals working in team
Identify and describe the key steps to follow in a group to deliver high
quality decisions
How might the steps identified minimise groupthink and minimise bias?
How might group members be engaged to ensure equal contribution by all
to the group ?
Groups versus Teams
Groups-teams; terms are often used interchangeably
Teams’ strengths depends on team members:
Commonality of
purpose, connections between
members, degree of team member
Teams can have extended power and be autonomous
or semi- autonomous in their decision making, setting
own direction.
Group members’ direction guided by designated
organisation members. Decision making in the group
function of designated leader or organisation member
Some Differences Between a Team and a Group

Work Team Work Group
Leader acts as a facilitator Leader controls the group
Members actively participate in
discussions, make decisions and
contribute to eventual outcomes
Leadership control is clear as to
who will conduct the meeting,
make decisions.
Team members decide on
of work assignments
Leader usually decides schedules,
assigns work to members.



Virtual Teams
Virtual team members need to be empowered to operate
independently and sufficiently skilled to operate individually and
as a member of the virtual team.
All members become
responsible for one another!
View Video (Buchanan, 2015) on teams versus groups:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uG-FLOi4OOU **
Review Murray, Poole and Jones (2006). Chapter 12 on high performing teams.
Discuss the following:
1. What are the key differences between working in a group and in a team?
2. Do you work in a team or a group? Explain.
3. What do you believe are the
qualities a high performing team?
Working with Virtual Teams
Virtual team members, working across sometimes vast
distances, joined by technology, in physical isolation and
dealing with
high speed communication but low levels of
psycho-social interaction with others.
Changes in organisation structuring, work processes have
led to an
increase in the number of virtual teams in
operation around the globe.
Movement from across the desk to across the world
communication has led to a single dimensional view of the
world and
potential for high levels of stress.
Managers and Virtual Teams
Managing virtual teams demands changes from an
‘across the desk’
mindset to one of adopting a new
form of coaching and communicating
; away from the
traditional lead, direct and control approaches.
Important to build sound communication processes
and meet team members’ psycho-social needs at work.
View and discuss video on ways of working efficiently,
virtually: Identify own workplace relevance of efficiencies
Challenges of Managing Remote Teams
View and discuss the video on working with remote teams.
https://youtu.be/YZkcUPWIrMg **
1. Identify and describe some of the daily challenges facing
virtual teams in their remote decision making work
2. How can virtual team communication be best
managed across
a physically separate team membership?
3. How can virtual team members
’ psycho social health and well
be catered for by the teams’ overall manager ?
4. What other challenges are there with remote teams?
https://youtu.be/MYFR9vysLP4 28 ***
Class Discussion on Assessment Two
Group Team Dynamics
Important for managers to understand the different phases of a
group/team’s growth, operation and development
and operating as a
unit in effective processing of information and decision making.
Group dynamics: The mutual understanding on one another’s’ roles and
related behaviours when operating together as a unit.
This understanding can help explain group/team’s functioning and
assist in managers
fostering positive working relationships across the
Groups /teams operating in an environment offering certainty of role
and function while operating in a
psychologically safe space can more
readily provide high quality information processing, decision making
Tuckman Model
Developing a Positive Team
Team members operating in a positive environment hold
each other responsible for task completion
and team
Important to establish an environment offering
psychological safety and certainty of role.
Develop an open mindset, encourage active listening and
questioning of decisions free of criticism.
View video on group development (HumberEDU,2015):
https://youtu.be/2QbXc6E08H4 32 ** Tuckman Model
Readings –Discussion on Team Success
Read Klug and Bagrow (2016) paper on gaining success in teams.
Is it something to do with members’ age or size of team or social
loafing? Or none of these things?
Read Marshall and Begeman (2005). Necessary but not sufficient
Paper discusses causes of team success.
Is success more to do with technical smarts, or is it something else?
Review and Discussion
Review the readings and videos on groups and teams
covered so far.
Use this material to inform your responses
to the following questions:
1. What are the phases of group development?
2. What are the
implications of these phases for managers
3. How might the manager deal with emerging conflict,
potential problems with communication between team
members and teams?
4. Outline the role of the manager in the team’s formation,
operations development
5. Does the team’s ready availability of technical skills
guarantee team success?
Challenges in Group Decision Making (1)
More recently, groups have been found to offer the potential
superiority over individuals in decision making.
Groups have however, been found on many occasions to be
limited in their decision making due to committing a
array of errors
and to be biased in their judgements
Attempts at conformity, or retaining harmony in group
relations can lead to
flawed decisions or groupthink
Inherent biases in groups’ functioning can include ‘estimation
Here group members underestimate the time needed to
complete a project (constant need for re-estimation)
Challenges in Group Decision Making (2)*
Information signal errors
Reputational errors
Amplifying errors
Cascading effects
Polarised thinking
Everybody knows that”
View the video: Flight (2016):
* Sunstein & Hastie (2014). Making dumb groups smarter. HBR
Review and Discussion
View the video on group decision making:
Use the resources provided to address the following:
1. How might managers address the
competing challenges of
need for conformity v social isolation in groups?
2. Describe the essential
strengths and weaknesses of groupbased over individual decision making
3. What level of importance would you assign to the
defining and
clarifying of individual roles
in group formation?
4. How should the manager address the sometimes
needs of the individual, the group and the task
Learning Activity 3.7: Overcoming problems
Identify the problems facing groups making decisions and describe some
possible ways of overcoming these problems
How might self-silencing be overcome and ensure full member
contribution to group decision making?
Describe the likely outcomes of Groupthink in decisions making in groups.
How might the problem of groupthink be best addressed?
Describe the implication of informational signals and reputational
pressures on groups making decisions. How might these challenges be
addressed by the manger working in decision making environment?
How might group polarisation effect and cascading of information effect
be overcome and group-based decision quality be improved?
How can the manager take account of, and improve on the inherent under
estimating by team members of time requirements for project

Overcoming Errors in Group Decision Making
Evidence of groups being more deliberative in their decision
making found to overcome many errors in information processing
Groups have been found to be better than individuals in
correcting for ego centric bias.
Group leaders who encourage information disclosure can reduce
self silencing
Assigning roles to individuals in group formation can reduce
uncertainty, address reputational risk and bring error rates down
Creation of a ‘devil’s advocate’ role in a group can be useful in
opposing conformity in information handling.
Bringing diversity to groups functioning can, through creative
bring new, innovative approaches to play. 39
Six strategies for overcoming group-based challenges include:
1. Identify groups’ problems. Implement relevant solutions.
2. Determine ways of
overcoming self silencing in the group.
3. Bring
diversity, devil’s advocacy to bear on groupthink
4. Identify, act on problems of
informational signals, conformity,
reputational pressure at work in the group
5. Determine how
group polarisation effect, cascading of
can be overcome and decisions improved.
6. Determine ways of
overcoming underestimating effect
Addressing Challenges in Group