Teamwork is one of the major factors that affect an organisation’s success and it can prove to be beneficial but it can also become a difficult aspect to manage within a company. According to Cohen and Bailey (1977:241), „a team is a collection of individuals who are interdependent in their tasks, who share responsibility for outcomes, who see themselves and who are seen by others as an intact social entity embedded in one or more larger social systems..”. The previous definition is pointing out the aspects of teamwork, which appear to be mutual reliance, interdependence and sense of responsibility that members feel when collaborating.Based on the previous theory, numerous benefits of teamwork can be underlined. One of the most important advantages that teamwork brings within an organisation is efficiency. According to Procter and Mueller (2000), it has been debated by supporters that it offers a more productive, creative, satisfying and empowering way of working. The efficiency of teamwork can also be highlighted from the book „Organizational Behaviour” by Daniel King and Scott Lawley, OUP 2013(page 165, Table 6.7), in which benefits like reduced dependency on particular individuals, faster decision making, increased time utilization and task requirements are considered benefits of teamwork.
Another major benefit for companies which rely on teamwork is social facilitation (Norman Triplett, 1898). His theory points out that members who work within a group tend to become more productive, possiby due to competition within the group. Furthermore, this benefit can be pointed out by West (2004) which states that teamwork can create social bonds between members, thus giving greater camaraderie. However, Harkins et al. (1980) states that individuals try less when working in a team, this phenomenon being known as social loathing.
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Besides having important benefits, teamwork can prove to have a significant level of difficulty when trying to implement it within an organisation. Challenges like personality clashes, breakdown of trust or reliance on less skilled members can arise for employees, but difficulties as unproductiveness, shared identity and purpose or time-consuming work can also be present for organisations. One of the major problems caused by teamwork within a company is social loafing.
According to Harkins et al. (1980) and Latane et al. (1979), a series of experiments had been conducted in the 1970s to investigate whether people worked harder in groups or individually. Eventually, they discovered that people try less hard when being asked to perform the same task within a group. This experiment was actually built on a previous research by Max Ringelmann, who found that, working alone, an agricultural student could pull a weight of 85 kg but a team of seven would not be able to pull 595 kg, instead just 450. Latane et al. suggests this phenomenon happened because individuals put more effort into tasks where they know they can be personally identified and less when they think their contribution is lost within a group.
Relating to this difficulty which can arise as a result of teamwork, a similar one can appear, which is called shrinking (Schnake, 1991). This phenomenon occurs when members of a group live off the efforts and work of others. A good example is that of a student which does not attend team meetings but turns up on the day of the presentation and demands the same grade as the other individuals.
In conclusion, teamwork can prove to be very beneficial for an organisation, bringing efficiency, social facilitation for the individuals and many other advantages. However, the difficulties that may arise as a result of non-compatible members or various other factors, must be looked upon carefully and treated properly.
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