Thursday, January 15, 2009

Diversity in Organisations

Within every organizational group, there is a degree of diversity that exists. This article addresses the issue of diversity and introduces a new concept of group composition called faultlines. This concept depends on the position of characteristics held by every individual member within the organisational group. If there is strong faultlines within a group i.e. members in the group are similar in many ways, the group is able to work together easily to shorten the processes and initial stages of a project. However, the existence of strong faultlines can also be a disadvantage as it restricts creativity and maximises the chance of group conflicts. The article applies the theory of faultlines to the development of an organisational group and discusses the various outcomes.

The creation of the theory of faultlines is very successful in that it can be applied to any group situation and gives a good understanding of the diversity an organisational group can contain. This article portrays this theory clearly and orderly, however, was found to be very repetitive in certain areas.

Empirical studies on managing conflict.
The basic outline of this article deals with managing conflict within an organisational group. It can be seen from article 1 that when there is diversity in a group, there will always be conflict. The idea of dispute in an organisational group however, is argued in this article. The question raised is whether a moderate level of dispute is desirable in order to enhance learning and effectiveness in an organization. It can be seen that when there is a weak faultline within a group i.e. that there is minimal similarities throughout the group, more cases of conflict will arise and it is important to understand how to control this problem to avoid dysfunction.

The main advantage to this article is that it is short and to the point and addresses the important issues dealing with group conflict. However, the weakness in the article is that the conclusion is vague, which is a major down point.

Cross-functional project groups in research.
The idea of cross-functional project groups within organizations is examined in this article. The term ‘cross-functional group’ is used meaning a group consisting of a number of members all from different functional areas of the organization. This can be related back to articles 1 and 2 in that these groups show a wide range of diversity, which in turn will cause conflict. However, it was discovered in this article that cross-functional group work has many advantages. Multiple sources of communication, maximised creativity, increased number of contacts outside the group and reduction of job stress are just a few. However, the key point to this article is that it has been found that functional diversity is most beneficial on group performance through the increased external communication. This is due to every member of the group having diverse backgrounds and contacts with external networks of information. This then leads to a faster schedule, better budget performance and technical quality. Despite the issue of conflict arising in such a diverse group, it was found that cross-functional groups within the workforce are a major advantage.

The layout of this article is seen to be a success as it examines the idea of a cross-functional workgroup in the form of an experiment. This allows the topic of concern to be fully dissected and examined to reach an educated and informative conclusion. It is hard to find a weakness in this article as every aspect of the main issue is explored.

Why do employees resist teams?
The use of work teams throughout organizations has had a dramatic increase throughout the past few decades. This article examines the conflict and resistance that has accompanied this growth. It was found that the resistance was due to low tolerance for change and the lack of trust throughout the organization. Self-managing work teams where the group members manage themselves, take action on problems and assign jobs are addressed throughout the article. The effectiveness of this type of work group is measured in terms of productivity and member attitudes and behaviours. The issue of why these teams do not enhance organisational productivity and employee behaviour is examined throughout the article. It is found that organisational change in general is usually resisted throughout most organizations causing conflict and job dissatisfaction. Not only is this due to the pressure to alter the status quo but also because of the diversity that exists within the self-managed groups. It was found from these studies that the main issue of concern from employees surveyed about self-managed groups was the issue of fairness. This concern about change generally results in resistance leading to conflict within the workplace.

The article is successful in that it directly deals with the emotions and reactions of people in a workplace making the data more accurate and believable. It also manages to examine issues that have been untouched in previous research dealing with the same topic. The weakness of the article is that it involves minimal opinions from the other side of the argument and is therefore biased to a certain degree.

Effects of Intragroup Communication.
The idea of intragroup communication has previously been argued. This article however, conducts an experiment to find the advantages and disadvantages, if any, of the communication between people within an organisational group. Two tests were conducted to find the results of group members with no interaction and then again with a large involvement in the group work. The individuals belonging to the groups that are involved in the experiment, all have partially conflicting interests. This is obviously due to the diversity between existing members. The study examined repeated interactions in intragroup conflict. Two conditions existed to the study. One in which members of the group could interact freely, and one where interaction was prohibited. Results showed that individuals learnt that there was no benefit of contribution to group work when communication was prohibited. However, when group interaction was allowed, the individual contribution or participation doubled.

This study was successful in that it was able to define the relations between the individual group member’s interests and the collective interests of the group. Two modes of conflict resolution were able to be distinguished between and important information is gained from a study of high interest to organisational groups. However, it is partially vague in one area of what it believes to be correct. If it is healthy for different groups within the one organization to compete, it must be healthy for the individual members of a certain group to also compete. On the other hand, it is also thought that what is best for the group is not necessarily best for the individual group member. This range of ideas was not successfully concluded in the article.

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