Group Status, Social Loafing & Diversity in Global Groups

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  • 0:05 Groups of Different Cultures
  • 1:25 Status, Culture and…
  • 3:09 A Good Side to This Issue
  • 3:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rob Wengrzyn

Rob has an MBA in management, a BS in marketing, and is a doctoral candidate in organizational theory and design.

Group status changes depending on culture, and as groups become more diverse, different perspectives and opinions will arise. In this lesson, we will address the issues of culture as it relates to group status, social loafing, and diversity.

Groups of Different Cultures

I want you to take a moment and close your eyes. Picture in your mind a round table with chairs all around it. Sitting in each chair is a person from another culture. There can be people from Germany, Singapore, or Israel sitting around you, and they are part of your team. Now, there are three aspects you need to understand about the team that is around you, and they are:

  • People from different cultures view groups from different perspectives. Thus, some of these people sitting around this group will see the group and its status the same, and others will see it differently. It depends on how their culture views group interaction and the formality or informality of groups.

  • Each person sitting around the table will bring their own cultural perspective to the group. What they think the status of the group is, how diverse it is and who will or will not do the work needed will all be going through their minds, from a cultural perspective.

  • As all these aspects are present, the group will start to develop its own norms or ways of doing things that will be a blending of all the cultural perspectives. Some of this blending will be easy, some hard and some may even raise conflict, but in the end, the group will blend all the diversity present into a final team and how that team functions.

Having said all this, we can now start to think about how culture impacts the view of group status and how groups function.

Status, Culture and Perspectives

Every culture defines groups differently. This definition centers on how they view the group and what it has been assembled to complete. As different cultures view the group they are in, they will look at the group status as a whole and their individual status in the group.

For example, many Germans are analytical and are more comfortable in a group that is structured, task oriented and focused on solving a specific problem. To them, a group of this sort has status in the organization because the end result is a specific problem that must be addressed. The status viewpoint is raised if the problem that is being solved is a critical, very visible one.

Now, if we take that same viewpoint and add in a person, say from South America (who have a more informal view of working in groups), the German person might look at the person from South America as not having the same status. Additionally, since the person from South America might be more informal, have a different sense of time and task, the German person might look at them as someone who is loafing and not getting the work done that is required.

We would call this social loafing, which means someone who exerts less effort than the rest of the group members. In a sense, they see that others can get the work done, thus they do not try as hard because they believe they do not have to.

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