Group Cohesion: Theory & Definition

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  • 0:00 Why Is Group Cohesion…
  • 1:36 Application for Management
  • 2:14 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Group cohesion is an important concept for organizations that utilize small groups to accomplish tasks. In this lesson, you'll learn what group cohesion is and examine some of its important concepts. A short quiz follows the lesson.

Why is Group Cohesion Important?

Group cohesion is the sum of all the factors causing members of a group to stay in the group or be attracted to the group. You can think of group cohesion as the social glue that binds a group together.

Many people believe that work teams demonstrating strong group cohesion will function and perform better in achieving work goals. However, you should note that the research results on this claim are mixed.

Group cohesion is not caused by one single factor, but the interaction of more than one factor. While group cohesion may have an effect on group performance, group performance may create or increase group cohesion. This makes sense - everyone wants to be on a winning team and no one wants to be on a losing team. However, members of highly cohesive groups may be motivated to accomplish more, which may not necessarily align with the organization's interest in performance. Thus, group cohesion can actually have a negative effect on group task performance. For example, a team of software designers may have a group interest in helping each other develop their skills and place an emphasis on that rather than on their productivity.

The most influential factor that will create a positive relationship between group cohesion and group performance is when the group members' commitment to the organization's performance goals and norms is high. In fact, research findings confirmed a positive relationship between group cohesion and group performance when the group's commitment to the organization's performance goals was high. However, when group commitment to its organization's performance goals was low, group cohesiveness actually had a negative relationship with its performance.

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