57). Although both teams and work groups are similar, there are some instances in which one is better suited than the other, and these issues are discussed further below.
Relative effectiveness of work groups compared to teams.
While some authorities suggest that team and work groups share a sufficient number of commonalities to make them indistinguishable, there are some situations in which work groups may be more effective if they are defined within certain categories (Biech, 2001). In this regard, Lewis (2001) reports that a useful definition of team is “a group of people who work together to achieve a common goal. Unless they collaborate and cooperate with each other, they cannot achieve the goal because it is too big for any one of them to accomplish individually” (p. 410). Although this general definition could well fit most work groups as well, there are some distinguishing characteristics involved. According to Kristof (1999), “The definition of work group may range from a small group of immediate coworkers to any identifiable subunit of an organization, such as a functional department or geographic division” (p. 2). Likewise, Galegher, Kraut and Egido (1990) report that, “A work group involves coordinated work where the group members are, at a minimum, co-acting, and, more probably, actively collaborating or cooperating with some or all other members of the group” (p. 64). Therefore, a work group may be more effective than a team if they are responsible for the functions described in Table 1 below.
Types of work groups and their functions
Work Group Type
Groups in this category have decision-making, planning, policy-setting, and oversight responsibilities. Examples include corporate strategic planning offices, fiscal controllers offices, and personnel departments.
“Text-oriented” groups are so designated because their products tend to be conveyed with textual information.
Legal offices, public relations offices, marketing departments, and the like, fall into this category.
These types of groups tend to produce specifications, designs, formulas, models. In our study, this category included electronic design departments, internal research and development departments, manufacturing quality assurance departments, etc.
Secretarial, clerical and technical support
Groups of this type provide support services. Examples are reservations and bookings offices, inventory control, and payroll offices.
Source: Olston, 1999, p. 94
The research showed that because all organizations are comprised of people, understanding group dynamics is an important element in achieving organizational goals as well as for personal and professional growth. This paper provided a review of the peer-reviewed and scholarly literature to develop a better understanding concerning the need to understand group dynamics in the business world as well as a discussion of the effectiveness of groups and individuals in work environments. An overview of group cohesiveness and its importance was followed by an analysis of the effect of social influence and interactions on the decision-making process, as well as a discussion of the importance of leaders in group settings. Finally, an analysis of the respective effectiveness of work groups vs. teams was provided, including examples of settings that were most appropriate for work groups compared to teams.
Biech, E. (2001). The Pfeiffer book of successful team-building tools: Best of the annuals.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.
Kristof, A.L. (1999). Person-organization fit: an integrative review of its conceptualizations, measurement, and implications. Personnel Psychology, 49(10, 1-2.
Kruppa, R. & Media, A.K. (2005). Group dynamics in the formation of a Phd cohort: a reflection in experiencing while learning organizational development theory.
Organization Development Journal, 23(1), 56-57.
Lewis, J.P. (2001). Project planning, scheduling, and control: A hands-on guide to bringing projects in on time and on budget. New York: McGraw-Hill..