Group Cohesion Essay

1755 words - 8 pages

After watching a herd of buffalo respond to a crisis on a video segment called "The Battle at Kruger,” I realized group cohesion was perfectly illustrated by a herd of buffalo. In the video, the buffalo are grazing in a field. Lying in wait is a pride of lions. As with most predatory species, the lions look for the best opportunity for food. When the buffaloes first happen upon the lions, their initial instinct is to scatter or respond individually. That’s when the baby buffalo becomes vulnerable when the lions pounce. The lions overtake the baby and bring it down. To make matters worse, the lions trap the baby near a body of water where crocodiles lurk. Now it becomes a battle between the ...view middle of the document...

Some researchers define cohesion as a one dimesnional construct of individuals being attracted to a group. Debate over what defines group cohesion still remains on whether the definition is based on a one dimensional, social construct of group attraction or whether a multi-dimensional definition is needed to define a variety of factors that shape cohesion. For the purpose of this paper, the definition of a multi-dimensional definition will apply. Katzenberg and Smith further state that an effective team has to have a common commitment because if it does not the team will just be a working group of individuals. Additionally, a group can’t manufacture cohesion; it has to happen naturally. “Mutual accountability cannot be coerced any more than people can be made to trust one another. But when a team shares a common purpose, goals, and approach, mutual accountability grows as a natural counterpart (Katzenberg & Smith, 1993, p.168).” In Salter’s (2011) examination of the Miami Heat this proves to be true. He describes the difference between a contrived team bonding experiment and “battle-field” tested unity. In order to get the team to bond quickly, the head coach had the newly minted dream team of Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, and Chris Bosh, along with the rest of group, practicing on an Air Force base in the Florida panhandle. The philosophy behind this was the basketball team would eat, sleep and breathe basketball together in order to build cohesion. The effort was superficial with most players anxious to go back to business as usual in Miami. It was not until the team faced the embarrassment of a losing streak did team cohesion form. The Miami Heat was touted as the most talented team in the NBA so the losses particularly hard. That is when the team encountered the adversity of failure, and players began to diagnose the problem. The adversity drove the team to a 21 out of 22 winning streak. Ironically, when the team became successful, cohesion went down as did team performance.
Conflict or a common objective also promotes group cohesion because group members will sacrifice individual preferences for the group’s good. Wade, James and Bosh willingly sacrificed some of their pay to chase after the dream of winning an NBA championship. Not only did they sacrifice pay, but James also forfeited his usual perks, and started traveling with the team instead of solo without his entourage in tow, most likely to encourage cohesion. Another study supports the theory that individuals will sacrifice for the good of the group. In a spin on the prisoner dilemma, Benard (2012) studied how groups performed in and out of conflict. A member of each group was given an endowment that they could either keep for themselves or spend for the good of the group. When the group was in a non-conflict mode, the individuals would keep the endowment for themselves. When the group was in conflict mode and needed to contribute for the good of the group, individuals would...

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