Group cohesion is among the most researched constructs linked to team effectiveness, and performance (Rosh, Offermann, & Van Diest, 2012). While meta-analytic evidence has established strong linkages between cohesion and performance (e.g., Beal, Cohen, Burke, & McLendon, 2003), the functions and structure of cohesion have received limited attention within this literature. In this chapter, we begin to address this gap in the literature by reviewing extant knowledge regarding the structural and functional properties of cohesion to introduce an integrative framework of the function and structure of cohesion. Our framework is designed to address two key questions: (1) Why are groups cohesive – that is, what function(s) does cohesion serve for an individual and/or groups? and (2) What are the elemental forms of cohesion within groups – that is, what is the structure of cohesion within teams? Our integrative framework posits that cohesion serves two main functions within groups: an affective and an instrumental function. These functions serve to characterize the structure of cohesion into four conceptually related but distinct facets that include interpersonal and group belongingness; and social and task elements of cohesion. Furthermore, we specify that these elemental facets occur both horizontally (among individuals with similar standing within groups) and vertically (among individuals with different standing within the groups). We discuss advantages and disadvantages of our framework and conclude with implications for research and practice.
This study examines how and when group cohesion influences employee voice.
The sample comprises 215 employees from 41 workgroups in China. Multilevel path analyses were used to test the hypotheses.
The results show that group cohesion is positively related to employee voice. Group psychological safety mediates the positive relationship between group cohesion and employee voice. Further, high cohesion strength enhances the association of group cohesion with employee voice as well as the mediating effect of group cohesion on voice behavior through group psychological safety.
This study employs a cross-sectional design and does not establish causal relationships among the variables examined. This study offers research implications because it adds to our knowledge on the situational antecedents of voice behavior.
The findings suggest that group cohesion plays an important role in influencing employee voice. To encourage employees to speak up, managers should pay attention to group cohesion in terms of both cohesion level and strength.
This study is the first to examine the mechanism and condition of the effect of group cohesion on employee voice, thus extending knowledge on the situational factors influencing voice behavior.
This study examined the impact of perceived threat and cohesion on the ability of groups to solve problems in a situation of social conflict. The self‐reports and…
This study examined the impact of perceived threat and cohesion on the ability of groups to solve problems in a situation of social conflict. The self‐reports and behaviors of 31 groups of college males were studied within a comprehensive, strategic simulation of intergroup conflict. The simulation was based on both a value conflict and an economic competition over scarce resources. A coding scheme for group problem solving was created based in part on Janis' seven symptoms of groupthink. Change scores were calculated over different points in time to assess the relationships among perceived threat, group cohesion, and dysfunctional group problem solving. Large increases in perceived threat were significantly related to decrements in problem‐solving effectiveness regardless of whether cohesion was stable or increased. Groups who reported high and increasing levels of cohesion experienced a decrement in problem solving regardless of the increase in perceived threat, while groups who showed small changes in cohesion demonstrated decreased problem solving under high perceived threat. The results were consistent with Janis' model of groupthink, and Fisher's eclectic model of intergroup conflict.
Whereas social cohesion has been widely studied and researched by sociologist and psychologists, its application to public procurement is sparse. This study explores the…
Whereas social cohesion has been widely studied and researched by sociologist and psychologists, its application to public procurement is sparse. This study explores the connection between social cohesion, groupthink, ethical attitudes and ethical behavior of procurement officers. The study is based on a survey of 405 public procurement officers in central government. A cross-sectional survey design was used and a response rate of 58.5% attained. Self report items were used to study all the constructs. All the hypothesized relationships were found to be significant. Social cohesion, groupthink, and ethical attitudes were all significant predictors of ethical behavior, accounting for 56% of the variance. The strength of this prediction suggests the need for concerted policy intervention for dealing with unethical conduct and behavior of the procurement professionals.
We present a conceptual model of ethical behavior in groups and the role of group cohesion in enabling unethical behavior. We make the distinction between unethical…
We present a conceptual model of ethical behavior in groups and the role of group cohesion in enabling unethical behavior. We make the distinction between unethical actions that benefit an individual's work group, and actions that benefit the individual to develop a typology of unethical actions. We propose that cohesion influences unethical actions of group members through three mechanisms – giving group members social support, enabling group members to diffuse responsibility for their actions throughout the group, and providing a rationale upon which group members can justify their actions to themselves. We hypothesize that group cohesion increases the likelihood of unethical actions that benefit the group, as well as the individual, while not affecting the group. In contrast, we expect cohesion to reduce the likelihood of unethical actions that harm the group. We also present boundary conditions by specifying how group norms and the status of the individual within the group affect the relationships that we propose. In a preliminary test of the hypotheses using scenarios, we found support for some parts of the model. We discuss the implications of our findings for ethical behavior in groups and organizations.
The relationship between intergroup conflict and intragroup cohesion is a longstanding concern in sociology and related disciplines. Past work suggests that intergroup conflict shapes emotional bonds between group members, promotes in-group and out-group stereotyping, encourages self-sacrifice for the group, and changes the social structure of groups. Conflict thus plays an important structural role in organizing social interaction. Although sociologists contributed much to the beginnings of this research tradition, sociological attention to the conflict–cohesion link has waned in recent decades. We contend that despite advances in our understanding of the conflict–cohesion hypothesis, more remains to be done, and sociologists are especially equipped to tackle these unanswered questions. As such, we encourage sociologists to revisit the study of intergroup conflict and intragroup cohesion and offer some possibilities for furthering our understanding of this phenomenon. After reviewing and evaluating the relevant literatures on the conflict–cohesion hypothesis, we consider ways in which a broad range of current theories from the group process tradition – including theories of status, exchange, justice, identity, and emotion – could contribute to understanding the conflict–cohesion hypothesis and how those theories could benefit from considering the conflict–cohesion hypothesis. In doing so, we make a case for the continuing importance of sociology in explaining the link between intergroup conflict and intragroup cohesion.
Media richness theory argues that different media are more or less appropriate for different tasks. Social information processing theory (SIP) explains a motivation and…
Media richness theory argues that different media are more or less appropriate for different tasks. Social information processing theory (SIP) explains a motivation and method guiding such technology adoption. In light of these theories, and the field’s lack of understanding of media effects on group development, this article investigates the development of two important group process factors – cohesion development and process satisfaction – in two different studies of groups supported by electronic meeting systems. Results indicate that initial levels of cohesion and process satisfaction differ depending on the medium (and its inherent richness) and, consistent with SIP, cohesion and process satisfaction increase over time in all types of electronic support, despite relative differences in media richness.
This chapter analyzes the ways that individuals develop person-to-group ties. The chapter reviews the development and evidentiary basis of the theory of relational cohesion…
This chapter analyzes the ways that individuals develop person-to-group ties. The chapter reviews the development and evidentiary basis of the theory of relational cohesion, the affect theory of social exchange, and the theory of social commitments.
We survey twenty-five years of published literature on these theories, and review unpublished theoretical tests and extensions that are currently in progress.
The research program has grown substantially over the past twenty-five years to encompass more varied and diverse phenomena. The findings indicate that structural interdependencies, repeated exchanges, and a sense of shared responsibility are key conditions for people to develop affective ties to groups, organizations, and even nation-states.
The research implies that if people are engaged in joint tasks, they attribute positive or negative feelings from those tasks to their local groups (teams, departments) and/or to larger organizations (companies, communities). To date, empirical tests have focused on microlevel processes.
Our work has practical implications for how managers or supervisors organize tasks and work routines in a way to maximize group or organizational commitment.
This research helps to understand problems of fragmentation that are faced by decentralized organizations and also how these can be overcome.
Originality/Value of the Chapter
The chapter represents the most complete and comprehensive review of the theory of relational cohesion, the affect theory of social exchange, and the theory of social commitments to date.
Although existing research on cohesion provides a robust understanding of the emergent phenomenon in small groups and teams, our comprehension of cohesion at the…
Although existing research on cohesion provides a robust understanding of the emergent phenomenon in small groups and teams, our comprehension of cohesion at the multisystem (MTS) level is quite limited. The simultaneous within- and between-team functioning inherent in MTSs produces more intricate dynamics than those observed at the team level. This added layer of complexity requires that many familiar team constructs, including cohesion, be systematically re-conceptualized and empirically examined through the lens of MTS theory (DeChurch & Zaccaro, 2010; Hackman, 2003). The present research addresses this gap by extending the conceptualization of team cohesion to the interteam level, and empirically investigating how cohesion functions across levels in a collective network of teams. Results from preliminary research suggest that intrateam and interteam cohesion share a curvilinear relationship with one another, while simultaneously interacting to affect overall system-level outcomes. This research not only illuminates the complexities associated with emergent phenomena in MTSs, but also serves as a starting point for continued, systematic research of the multilevel cohesive bonds that characterize MTS functioning.
Cohesion is a key contributor to team effectiveness, leading to great interest in understanding how to diagnose, monitor, and enhance it in practice. However, there is…
Cohesion is a key contributor to team effectiveness, leading to great interest in understanding how to diagnose, monitor, and enhance it in practice. However, there is great inconsistency in how cohesion is conceptualized and measured, making it difficult to compare findings across studies, and therefore limiting the ability to advance science and practice. To begin addressing these issues, we draw from qualitative and quantitative analyses and extract themes indicating what matters most for effective cohesion measurement. Such themes are presented around six major questions – who, what, when, where, why, and how – as they pertain to each major component of the cohesion measurement process. Emerging approaches to cohesion measurement and corresponding avenues for future research are also discussed.