Advantages And Disadvantages Of Group Decision Making Essay

Contents: Synopsis... 2 Introduction... 3 Discussion... 3 - 8 Conclusion... 9 References... 11 Synopsis Explains the advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches that are now being used in today's society for group decision-making.

Groups are everywhere in our society, and learning more about them and how to work better in them can enhance the quality of each person's life. Explained in detail are a few of the most widely used techniques: brainstorming, buzz sessions, and nominal group technique. Points out the advantages and disadvantages of each approach with a view to reducing failures in implementing techniques as a result of lack of knowledge. The article will be useful for anyone involved in groups, e. g. managers or people wishing to improve their skills.

Assessment 2: Second Research Essay Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of group decision-making Decision making is an eight-step process: (1) formation of a problem, (2) identification of decision criteria, (3) allocation of weights to the criteria, (4) development of alternatives, (5) analysis of alternatives, (6) selection of an alternative, (7) implementation of the alternative, & (8) evaluation of decision effectiveness. Many decisions in organizations, especially important decisions that have a far-reaching impact on organisational activities and personnel, are made in groups. It is a rare organisation that does not at some time use committees, task forces, review panels, study teams or similar groups as vehicles for making decisions. Major decisions in organizations are most often made by more then one person in order to take advantage of a diversity of outlooks. Group decision-making has several advantages over individual decision-making. According to a study of more then 200 project teams in management education courses, groups outperformed their most proficient group member 97 per cent of the time.

In a group a diversity of ideas is brought to bear on a problem. (Bartol, K. , Martin, D. , Tein. And Matthews, G.

, 2000, Management, A pacific Rim Focus, 3 rd Edition, Mcgraw-Hill, Sydney. Pg. 142) Individual and group decisions each have their own set of strengths. Neither is ideal for all situations, group decision - making has several potential disadvantages as well as advantages.

Below are the summarised advantages that a group decision has over an individual decision. Provides more complete information. There is often truth to the saying that heads are better then one. A group bring a diversity of experience and perspectives to the decision process that an individual, acting alone, cannot... Generates more alternatives.

Because groups have a greater amount and diversity of information, they can identify more alternatives than an individual. This advantage is particular evident when group members represent different specialities. For instance, a team made up of representatives from engineering, accounting, production, marketing personnel will generate alternatives that reflect diverse specialities than any one of those specialists alone... Brainstorming. One major advantage of brainstorming is the enormous number of ideas that are generated from the technique.

By having an open and free session, everyone can engage in the creation of ideas. This kind of atmosphere is not the usual "formal" situation, which often cramps people of their creativity. People feel good about themselves and the idea that they can contribute to the session. The cost and time of brainstorming is also another important factor. It is a relatively inexpensive technique that takes only a moderate amount of time to engage in... One major advantage of Nominal Group Technique is that it avoids two problems caused by group interaction.

First, some members are reluctant to suggest ideas because they are concerned about being criticized. Second, some members are reluctant to create conflict in groups. (Many people want to maintain a pleasant climate. ) NGT overcomes these problems.

NGT has the clear advantage of minimizing differences and ensuring relatively equal participation. It may also, in many cases be a timesaving technique. Research has suggested that NGT also decreases the tension and hostility a group might normally experience relative to its decision-making. Other research on NGT has also suggested that this technique is excellent when used in meetings that are concerned with judgmental decision-making (Robbins, S. P, Bergman, R, Stagg, I and Coulter, M, 2000, Management, Prentice Hall, Sydney. Pg 222-223.

)... These are involve creative decision making, not routine meetings. Other advantages include producing a large number of ideas and providing a sense of closure that is often not found in less-structured group methods... A major advantage of the buzz session technique is that it allows a large number of people to participate in a group discussion. In most large groups, participation is limited, but by dividing the group into smaller ones, the method gives everyone the opportunity to contribute. This gives members a sense of belonging and contributing to the purpose.

Also, a person who may be uncomfortable expressing his or her opinion or asking a question to a group of 30 might feel less intimidated in a group or four, five, or six. It overcomes many of the problems associated with too large a group trying to engage in decision-making. Another advantage of this technique is that it can be used in a variety of contexts. Political, social, and fraternal groups use it to get their members involved in the group decision-making process. (The advantages of teamwork. Packaging Technology & Engineering, Jul 99, Vol.

8 Issue 7, p 58, 2 p, Erickson). Increase acceptance of a solution. Many decisions fail after the final choice has been made because people do not accept the solution. However, if the people who will be affected by a certain solution and who will help to implement it, get to participate in the process itself, they are more likely to accept it, get encourage from others to accept it as well. Group members are reluctant to fight or undermine a decision they have helped create... Increase legitimacy.

The group decision-making process is consistent with democratic ideals, and therefore decisions made by groups may be perceived as more legitimate then decisions made by one person. The fact that the individual decision maker has complete power and has not consulted others can create a perception that a decision was made autocratically and arbitrarily. Group decisions also have their drawbacks, although the adage of 'two heads are better then one', group decision making also have drawbacks. The major disadvantages of group - decision making are as follows: . Time consuming. It takes time to assemble a group, and the interaction that takes place once the group gets to work is frequently inefficient.

The result is that groups almost always take more time to reach a solution then it would take an individual making the decision alone. Individual decision-making takes less time, therefore meaning less expenditure and no running around caused by working in a group gathering all the other group members' work... Minority domination. Members of a group are never perfectly equal. They may differ in rank in the organisation, experience, and knowledge about the problem, influence with other members, verbal skills, assertiveness, and the like. This inequality creates the opportunity for one or more members to use their advantages to dominate others in the group.

A dominant minority can frequently have an excessive influence on the final decision... Disagreements may delay decisions and cause hard feelings. Disputes between group members may arise when decision-making. This being a common issue delays the process of decision making and affects group morale. Disputes between group members then leads to the cause of hard feelings and the tension between certain members, therefore once again affecting the group. (Measuring the Influence of Individual Preference Structures in Group Decision Making, JMR: Journal of Marketing Research, Nov 99, Vol.

36 Issue 4, p 476, 12 p, 9 charts, 1 graph, Arora, Neeraj; Allenby, Greg M. ). A major disadvantage of the technique is that it produces ideas without screening them. Although brainstorming may produce a wide variety of ideas, many of them may not be quality ideas. Effective solutions to problems usually have been screened, tested, and evaluated. For this reason brainstorming is often used only as the first step in an overall problem-solving process.

Also, brainstorming is only useful when there is a small group of individuals, time is plentiful, status differences among group members are minimal, and a need exists to verbally discuss ideas with others. If these criteria are not met, brainstorming will not be helpful for the organization; and a different method might better fit their situation... A major disadvantage of NGT is that the method lacks flexibility by only being able to deal with one problem at a time. Also, there must be a certain amount of conformity on the part of the members involved in NGT. Everyone must feel comfortable with the amount of structure involved. Another disadvantage is the amount of time needed to prepare for the activity.

There is no spontaneity involved with this method. Facilities must be arranged and carefully planned. (The advantages of teamwork. Packaging Technology & Engineering, Jul 99, Vol. 8 Issue 7, p 58, 2 p, Erickson). A possible disadvantage of the buzz session is the emphasis on unstructured discussions.

Although many studies emphasize that groups are more likely to reach a consensus when the leader does not structure the discussion activity, the quality of the ideas produced may not be as high. Another limitation of this technique is the reliance on verbal procedures. Often, members do not feel comfortable expressing themselves verbally, even in groups that are structured to be smaller (as in the case of the buzz session). If certain members are reluctant or feel inhibited, the end result is a reduction of idea spontaneity. A final disadvantage may be in evaluating all the ideas when the groups end their discussion. Because of the high number of groups involved, co-ordinating the end result will be more difficult.

Pressures to conform. There are social pressures to conform in groups that can lead to a phenomenon called groupthink. This is a kind of conformity in which group members withhold deviant, minority or unpopular views in order to give the appearance of agreement. Groupthink undermines critical thinking in the group and eventually harms the quality of the final decision... Ambiguous responsibility. Group members share responsibility, but who is actually responsible for the final outcome? In an individual decision, it is clear who is responsible.

In a group decision, the responsibility of any single member is diluted. Effectiveness and Efficiency Determining whether groups are effective at making decisions depends on the criteria yo use for defining effectiveness. Group decisions tend to be more accurate. The evidence indicates that, on average, groups make better decisions than individuals.

This does not mean that all groups outperform every individual. But group decisions are almost always superior to those made by individuals alone. (Bartol, K. , Martin, D.

, Tein. And Matthews, G. , 2000, Management, A pacific Rim Focus, 3 rd Edition, Mcgraw-Hill, Sydney. pg 122) Because group decisions have input from more people, they are likely to result in solutions that will be more widely accepted. The effectiveness of group decision-making is also influenced by the size of the group.

The larger the group, the greater the opportunity for heterogeneous representation. A larger group requires more coordination and more time to allow all members too contribute. So groups should therefore not be too large, a minimum of five to a maximum of about fifth teen. Group effectiveness should not be considered without also assessing efficiency; group decision-making consumes more work time than individual decision-making. Exceptions occur when to achieve comparable quantities of diverse input, the individual decision maker must spend a great deal of time reviewing files and talking to people. Because groups can include members from different areas, they may spend less time searching for information.

In general groups are less efficient than individuals. In deciding whether to use groups, then, primarily consideration must be given to assessing whether to increase in effectiveness are enough to offset the losses in efficiency. Word Count: 1511 words References 1. Bartol, K. , Martin, D. , Tein.

And Matthews, G. , 2000, Management, A pacific Rim Focus, 3 rd Edition, Mcgraw-Hill, Sydney. 2. http: //www. Emeraldtextonline. com.

(Library Database) 3. Measuring the Influence of Individual Preference Structures in Group Decision Making, JMR: Journal of Marketing Research, Nov 99, Vol. 36 Issue 4, p 476, 12 p, 9 charts, 1 graph, Arora, Neeraj; Allenby, Greg M. 4. Robbins, S. P, Bergman, R, Stagg, I and Coulter, M, 2000, Management, Prentice Hall, Sydney.

5. The advantages of teamwork. Packaging Technology & Engineering, Jul 99, Vol. 8 Issue 7, p 58, 2 p, Erickson.

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Managers in today’s business environment are faced with numerous often-unplanned events that require decision-making. In the past it was more common for a manager to decide the course of action individually or within formal groups.

Important decisions in the business circle are now deemed too risky or important to be made entirely by one person. A manager must seek the right advice from several different sources.

Today it is often common for many managers to seek involvement from lower level employees in the decision making process whenever it can be done.

However it is not always possible just to ask a colleague what they should do. Most decisions will require a process of a greater degree of subordinate participation; these decisions can be made through a variety of different ways such as committees, task groups, departmental participation and so forth.

It is said that making decisions in a group allows for every angle to be looked at and every possible idea to be created with every decision from a group offering the best solution this method of decision making.

However like many techniques it has its positives and negatives.It can be time consuming and may not offer an answer to the problem that satisfies everyone.

This essay hopes to discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of group decision-making using several theories and some real life case studies.

We will see how participation in decision-making affects companies decisions; we will look at several helpful models i.e. vroom-jago model and all referencing it to real life situations and quotes from famous persons in the field

Circumstances Of Group decision.

Managers as part of their job are faced with many decisions in which they have to undertake, it is up to the managers themselves to decide in what kind of way they want to make the decision and solve the problem. However groups can offer an essential feature in decision making for an organisation. As Coghlan points out:

“Membership of teams and groups shape perception and participation in organisational change.. Groups and teams play a key role in the process of planned organisational change. The change process typically involves teams in the organisational’s hierarchy responding to the change agenda and adapting to it in terms of its tasks and processes” (Coghlan)

Coghlan statement clearly leads us to believe that groups are critical in making important direction changing decisions for the company.

Evidence supports this statement and we will look at this a little later as we discuss the advantage and disadvantages.

First we will look at how managers come about making the decision to use group participation.

A manager may decide to use group decisions in several circumstances and the contingency model by Vroom and Yetton as well as the Vroom and Jago decision model can prove useful in helping management decide when to encourage group participation.

In he contingency model by Vroom and Yetton there are five key management styles as described by Vroom that a manager can undertake to make decisions. This is shown in appendix 1.

We can see from this that the amount of participation that a manager involves in a decision varies greatly. It would not be logical for managers to always involve group decision-making on smaller problems such as whether to refund a customer (if it was something worth 10) this would be a waste of time and resources for the company and could easy be dealt with on the stop with a programmed decision by the staff.

Group decisions as described by Coghlan can be very useful for important or company changing problems or opportunities. It would not be wise to let one person decide whether to invest 4 billions pounds to merge with another company. This is a case when it would be wise for the company to go for the style as vroom described as decision style “GII” i.e. where you share a problem with your subordinates as a group and implement any solution that has the entire support of the group.

The Vroom and Jago decision model goes onto produce a decision tree for choosing a appropriate decision-making method.This decision tree allows the manger to move along the branches by answering the questions at each point. This leads to one of the five decision making styles as described in the Vroom Yetton model. However it has to be said that this model as well as models in general are neither right nor wrong they must be seen as guidelines or as a reference. However the Vroom-Yetton, Jago model must be seen as a useful tool in the aid of decision-making although it is not perfect.

Looking at appendix 2 we can see that the model looks a little complex however once you reach the starting point QR we can see that the model is simply a set of high, low yes, no answers that guide you to an eventual decision style. This model has been criticized as being not perfect. However it is not possible for me to say these critics are not right or wrong only this model is neither. However support is growing for this model as more examples of its uses come to light.

Advantages, Disadvantages To Group Participation.

In today’s empowered work places managers involve all workers in decision making as a rule rather than choice. However companies must understand that participative decision-making does has its disadvantages as well as it obvious advantages.

It is seen that in business two heads are better than one. This can be true in some circumstances as it offers an advantage in terms of offering a boarder perspective to establish the problem and sort out its causes and effects. It also enables the company to have more ability and facts at its disposal therefore allowing for greater scope to sort out any potentially tricky problem.

Group discussion leads to the evaluation and correction of possible decisions, plus group discussion also helps to back up and support a decision that an individual may not wish to take on his or her own due to the risk involved.

And finally group discussion allows for more satisfaction from the workers, as they feel involved with the project and decision that their work place is taking.

Group decisions however can tend to be time consuming, everyone must be consulted on the problem and then they must all find the time to jointly diagnose the problem and decide a solution.

Groups may also have the problem of not using the best solution for the problem, although the group discussion allows for more ideas some members may not agree on the best solution and therefore a comprise solution will have to be used to gain group wide acceptance. A boarder instant of this would be the risky shift phenomenon, this suggests that instead of groups taking fewer risks and making safer decisions the reverse is often the case. There is a tendency for groups to make more risky decisions than an individual may take. Another point is that people inclined to make risks are more influential within the group than say the more conservative members, therefore good ideas could be lost.

Group think is another problem that must be considered within a group. Group think tells us that pressures on individual members to conform and reach consensus mean that minority or unpopular ideas maybe suppressed. Members who oppose the group are stereotyped as being weak, stupid, and argumentative. As People may not wish to question any ideas of the group, bad ideas may filter through.

One other big problem to group think as see we see in the example of Napster is that it can lead to a inherent morality of the group which in turn can lead to members to be convinced of the logical correctness of what it is doing and to ignore ethical or moral consequences of decisions ( more harsher examples of groupthink would be Pearl harbour, Vietnam, Mullins99)

The final problem is people do not feel the same sense of responsibility for group decisions or their outcomes. “A decision which is everyone’s is the responsibility of no one”(Mullins,98)

An example of disadvantages of group decision-making and group think can be seen by Even when it was clear that their practice of providing free mp3’s of the latest musical material was wrong they decided as a group in the face of the courts to continue their practice. This was because their group norms supported them doing so and that they were the most sought after website on the Internet. However group members of Napster had to compromise all their values so as to keep dissent and as there was no clear reasonability everyone agreed to this illegal practice. If some members would have voiced their concerns and beliefs earlier in the process and put an end to the practice before the courts took over they could have save themselves much time and money.

However lets go back to advantages of group decision-making and look at the techniques used to promote it and stimulate creativity.

Management have realized that encouraging employee participation in solving problems can be extremely advantageous toward the company. Frontline workers are constantly in touch with the needs, wants and concerns of the companies customers, it allows them fuller insight into how to possibly solve problems that concern the company’s consumer base.

When I first worked at Matalan they operated a system by where you could post any ideas you had on how to improve the operation of the store and its service to the customers. If you idea was put into practice you would receive a financial reward. This system received many replies and allowed for many improvements to be implemented around many Matalan stores.

There are many different ways in which can pursue employee participation. The most common and well-known participation tool would be brainstorming.

Brainstorming is a decision-making technique in which group members present spontaneous ideas and suggestions for solving the problem concerned. It allows any ideas regardless of how impractical they may seem. This in turn hopefully promotes freer and more creative thinking. Brain storming works on involving everyone, and encouraging communication, listening, and information sharing in the hope that it maximises ideas/possible solutions to problems and also minimises the risk of overlooking any points of the problem under question.

An advancement of the brainstorming technique is the Delphi technique this is based on anonymous inputs from individual members of the group and then management assess the responses until a consensus is reached. This can be time consuming but overcomes the limitations of brainstorming and the systems of group think.

Now Lets take for example many common marketing departments; it is now commonplace for them to have basketball hoops, televisions, computers games, and other stimuli within the room. Management hope this will promote a relaxed environment within the group in the hope that it will allow for more creative thinking and brainstorming within the marketing group

Other techniques used for group decision making include signing a devils advocate. The devils advocate challenges the assumptions and assertions made by the group to prevent any premature consensus. (Daft,00) This it hopes forces the team who created the idea to solve the problem to examine and explain any risks that maybe associated with it.

Another similar approach would be multiple advocacy. Multiple advocacy, involves several advocates and allows for the presentation of several different points of view on the idea in question. It allows minority and unpopular opinions, decisions are therefore based on solid augment and the understanding of all the pro’s and con’s.


As we can see there are circumstances where group decisions are more necessary than others and it is up to the managers to decide which situations would be best to involve group decision. Although the decision of when to involve group decisions is entirely up to the manager there are models available such as vroom to help give guidance should they need it.

Group participation offers a variety of different advantages for solving problems and tasks. It allows for the group as a whole to participate toward solving the task and allows for more creative thinking than would be given by an individual. Groups cover all angles of a problem and enable any ideas to be looked at in detail before being implemented.

However like all good things it has its disadvantages. Group participation includes such problems as groupthink and risky-shift phenomenon. These tell us that support can be given to ideas just to enable group harmony or because individuals don’t wont to gain a reputation. It also includes the point that people inclined to take risks are more influential within the group.

Whatever the disadvantages and advantages of group participation and performance, groups will always form part of the pattern of work organisation. It is merely a matter of judgement for the manager as to when, and how best, to use groups in the execution of work.


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