definitions of group have been established over the years. Many of the
definitions are similar and if condensed overall, a group is an amount of
individuals who: share mutual goals, motivations, tasks are fused together by
relationships, norms, roles, power relations and interrelate with one another
so they are interdependent amid themselves. (Fisher, 1980). Groups are
portraying a meaningful part in the business world since the industrial
revolution. One of the purposes behind its significance, is belief that groups
are more probable to reach effective outcomes. (Gillette and McCollom, 1995).
Looking into decision making with more complexity it is a method which is
reliant upon different variables such as the scope of the group, morals and
beliefs among the group members and interpersonal relationships, which are all
factors that influence the outcome. (Hirokawa and Poole, 1996). With decisions
they are made at all levels within an organization as both managers and
non-managers make them. Because of this, a good perception of group decision
making and the communication processes are important and this literature review
will analyze factors which make them effective based on theories and examples.
The first part of the essay is concentrated on several theories associated to
effective group decision making whereas the second section is putting the
theories into practice.
happens seems to involve group work, as it now appears to be a functional
necessity in contemporary American society but the ultimate question many
people examine is why are some groups more effective than others? (Hirokawa,
Degooyer and Valde, 2000).
are frequently selected to make decisions rather than individuals because of
their vaster knowledge base and the diversity of their member’s perceptions.
However, a multitude of studies have shown that collectives regularly fail to
utilise this potential because they are unable to effectively make use of the
specialised knowledge of their associates. Instead, they tend to prefer the
much smaller set of participants commonly retained information. The results of
this issue have severe consequences considering the omnipresence of groups in
modern day organisations and the essential need of combining knowledge to resolve
the complicated difficulties organisations face. (Emich, 2014).
to some researchers there are seven factors that are considered to influence
group performance in the group decision-making process. The seven factors are
known as: group communication, member attributes, relationships, external
forces, group process, member emotions, and group structure.
decision process is described as a set of actions and dynamic factors that
begins with the recognition of a stimulus for action and ends with the specific
commitment to action. (Mintzberg et al,
undertaken by Hirokawa found that to simplify the relationship between group
communication processes and the quality of decision making outcomes it was
subject to the fulfillment of four critical requirements. (Hirokawa, 1988). This
theory was known as the functional perspective, and problems concerning the
quality of teamwork and those elements that contribute to it or detract from it
constitute the functional perspective. (Wittenbaum et al, 2004). This theory focuses
on how a group can increase the probability of generating a good decision due
to the the four essential functions of small group decision making. “These are
known as: firstly, the assessment of the problematic situation; secondly, the
assessment of the requirements for an acceptable choice; thirdly, the
assessment of the positive qualities of alternative choices; and finally, the
assessment of the negative qualities of alternative choices.” (Hirokawa, 1988
p489, p490.). By following the process of the functional perspective it brings
the various perspectives of the participants of the group to look at the
subject from a wide variety of views and this in turn would be able to generate
a wider range of alternative possible solutions. This then may help the group
interact at a better quality and making a higher quality and effective decision
within the group.
the functional perspective is one of the most well-known theories a number of
researchers have yet to display with any amount of certainty, that a shared link
exists between group communication processes and group decision making
outcomes. At best, we presently retain uncertified speculations concerning the
influence of communication on group decision making performance. (Hirokawa,
1988). However, some researchers have said that a groups capability to arrive
at a high quality conclusion is reliant upon the quality of interaction or
conversation that precedes selection making in the group. Several authors have supported
that the quality of communication that transpires as a group which attempts to accomplish
a decision may well be the single most important element of the decision making
success or failure of that group. (Hirokawa and Rost, 1992).
conflict can often be voiced as a discrepancy over personal matters and often associated
with hostility and annoyance between individuals. Relationship conflicts reduce
energy and effort that could be used toward task accomplishment and
consolidation around common goals. (Wittenbaum et al, 2004).
are often more effective when positive bonds are determined and interpersonal
conflicts are settled in early sessions and work is accomplished in later
sessions. (Lo Coco, et al, 2016). While close relationships can have a negative
impact upon decision making it can also have a positive impact due to the
relationship you have with other group members. Having a lack of relationship
between group members can cause a shortage of communication, absence of
openness and honesty and a failure to share information. (Hirokawa et al, 2000). According to Burlingame, Fuhriman, and
Johnson (2002) group participants show the most development when these group
therapeutic relationships are encouraging and challenging. (Lo Coco et al,
2016). Due to the lack of research with relationships in groups, Johnson et
al’s (2005) factor analysed numerous different measures and derived a three
factor model of the therapeutic relationships in group treatments. The three
factors he constituted are “(1) positive bonding relationships, which involve
the constructs of cohesion, engagement, and emotional bond; (2) positive
working relationships, which involve an agreement on the therapeutic goals and
tasks; (3) negative relationships, which involve conflict and empathic failure.”
Therefore, the primary function of this study is to assess how positive
bonding, positive working, and negative relationships link to outcome in
interpersonal growth groups. (Lo Coco et al, 2016, p419).
on conflict in groups and teams has its foundations in theories of negotiation
and conflict resolution. (Wittenbaum et al, 2004). For example, according to
Deutsch (1973), he theorized that conflicts diminish goodwill and mutual
understanding and have a tendency to intensify and develop. Consequently, the occurrence
of conflict has long been connected with poor group performance. Previous
theories of group conflict presume that workgroups are goal accustomed and that
the social interaction to reach these goals essentially leads to conflict.
These perceptions, however, regularly overlook the task environment and the emphasis
on problem solving and task performance that the functional perspective takes
into account in foreseeing group activity and outcomes. (Wittenbaum et al,
structure of a group is mainly associated with leadership, organization and
goals of the group. An analysis undertaken by Durham et al, (1997) is concentrated
on setting the goals in group decision making. As research established, the
groups with clear goal settings enhanced their performance and also approach
regarding the task. Goal effects are most dependable when the goals are precise
and complex, and when there is dedication to the goals, comment regarding goal
process, high self-efficacy, and knowledge concerning how the goals can be
attained. The key type of knowledge is information of the strategies required to
accomplish the task so as to attain the goal. (Durham et al, 1997). A theory
that supports goal setting is by Locke and Latham (1979) which draws on the
principles from reinforcement and the social learning theory. People in most
cases then become satisfied when they achieve specific goals. According to
Locke and Latham (1979) the five principles to improve the chances of success
are (1) clarity (2) challenge (3) commitment (4) feedback (5) task complexity.
design of an organization patterns its formal structure and culture. It
allocates objective and control to departments and individuals. It lays down principles
for authoritarian or participative management by its hierarchical or
non-hierarchical structure. (Price, 2004). Two typically used approaches within
an organization is middle-up-down and top-down which can help to gather all
information and keep everyone up to date with categorized situations. By using
both these methods it found that it created a vital relationship between
departments. (Harrington and Kendall, 2006). By applying the different methods
in an organization it can help to create a successful relationship amongst
staff members which would influence when making decisions as they could be more
effective due to them being more open with each other.
When relating group decision making
theories into real life it can be challenging, specifically when linking
business environments due to been many correct answers for group decision
making. (Hirokawa and Poole, 1986). Although research has been conducted for
group decision making, not enough research has been accomplished in terms of
analysing the certain behaviors of participants in a group with psychology,
competence and background relationship toward decision making process and
performances predominantly in tourism or hospitality areas. (Bonn and
Rundle-Thiele, 2007). There are many different articles and books about the
decision making process in a group, however, some research is old and the progression
amid centuries could have an influence upon the decision making process within
a group, there could be new research conducted considering the progress of
technology and the influence that may have upon this. Because, according to
Hirokawa (1983, 1986) each case requiring decision making is unique and isn’t
similar, because of the different group structure, different points of view,
different competencies and also the importance of the decision. Motivation and
interpersonal relationships are performing a significant part in the efficiency
of the group work. (Hirokawa and Poole, 1996). For instance, decisions during
the process may influence the group level of enthusiasm and ambition, which
impacts the future decision process. Unsatisfied with one choice may alter the
attitude of the participants towards the completion of the task.
Research that Harrington and Kendall
(2006) discovered when investigating the two typically used approaches within
the organization to gather all material and keep everyone up to date to
categorized situations, such as middle-up-down and top-down approaches. They
found that using the two tactics created a vital relationship between
departments. (Harrington and Kendall, 2006). Due to this method it impeccably
applies to present business strategies where all departments communicate with
each other. This is to understand the nature of business from the bottom layer
within the organization to ensure business success and sustainability. For
example, departments such as; directors, customer service, managers from human
resources and finance all communicate with each other. For instance, many
retail stores would use this approach to keep everybody up to date with each
department and the situations progressing throughout the store. By using this approach,
it benefits organizations as all members of staff are aware of what is
happening in each department and communicate well with each other to ensure
this happens and helps create a valuable relationship between all members.
According to Belbin (2010)
disorganization in hierarchical bureaucracies is commonly proportionate to the
number of command stages in an organization. With flatter organisations,
communication moves from down and up to primarily lateral relationships. By eliminating
the hierarchical levels, it presents the possibility of increased efficiency.
With this transpiring and fewer chains in command there needs to be more
teamwork. An example of a workplace with fewer chains in command would be those
who work in customer service. This is because when dealing with customers you
need to think and act fast as the customers don’t want to be kept waiting. The center
of an organization that operates service management is unalike from that of a
traditional organization. This is because the organization is designed so that
it supports front line workers to serve the consumers effectively. Decision
making within this sector is decentralized so that workers who are included in
the customer communication are authorized to take action and do what is essential
to please the customer. (Belbin, 2010). For example, having somebody complain
and being unhappy, guest service representatives have the power to take care of
the problem. This may be to “give a discount, offer a free meal or make
arrangements with outside entities to satisfy the customer.” (Belbin, 2010 p23).
From personal experience, the downward
communication flow can make work a demanding and demoralizing place as it can
be isolating and condescending. The manager who favored this interaction style
fits into the Belbin character profile of the “shaper” as they frequently
trigger conflict. (Belbin, 2010). Without having a deputy manager in place or
somebody alike who could approach leadership in a different way. Ultimately, it
leads to employees leaving in pursuit for a more gratifying place to work.
Organisations need to prevent this to keep staff turnover to a minimum and to guarantee
the business has a respectable reputation within the employment market. Having
a high staff turnover could also cost the business much more money than
necessary due to the training of new staff that would need to be done.
conclusion, this literature review has examined numerous models which can be
utilized to reach effective decisions within a group. This literature review
proves the importance of communication, relationships and group structure
within the process of group decision making. What has been found whilst analyzing
different theories is that there isn’t much up to date research which makes it
difficult to predict if a theory would work successfully within a group. Having
effective communication is a fundamental factor influencing group decisions
outcomes but it is specifically important to recognize decision making
processes in contemporary world of organizations shaped by groups and teams.
different theories that have been researched within this literature review
wouldn’t work within all the different sectors such as hospitality, and would
also be affected depending upon the size of the group and the participants work
ethic to contributing towards an effective decision. This is because the
communication within a group would be more difficult to have effective
communication if the group size was bigger as more people’s opinions would be
included so would increase the chance of conflict which impacts upon the
effectiveness of a decision. Moreover,
some of the theories would work better with decision making compared to others.
For example, the functional perspective would work well within group decision
making because it looks at both positive and negative alternative choices
before the analysis of the task and coming to an effective decision with majority
decision making is set from recognizing a task, satisfying task requirements
and final results which show the degree of communication and relationship.
Lastly, effective decision making is suggestive and not conclusive, so each
single task requires different strategies and theories to be applied.
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