Group Cohesiveness


Generally speaking, people join a group because they expect it to satisfy their needs. Cohesion develops if these hopes are realized. Group cohesiveness is an important indicator of how .much influence the group as a whole has over the individual’s members. It can be thought of as the strength of the ‘glue’ which holds the group together. It is defined as the degree to which members are attracted to one another and share the group’s goals. Cohesiveness causes more harmonious behavior in group members. A cohesive group is able to act as one body to achieve its goals. According to Shaw, members of highly cohesive groups are more energetic in group activities, are less likely to be absent from group meetings and are happy when the group succeeds and sad when it fails, whereas members of less cohesive groups are less concerned about the group’s activities; the members are not dedicated to the group and its purposes; their loyalty and support are Medicare or variable. 

1. Features of Cohesive Groups

Those that are high in cohesion are likely to be groups.

1. That have relatively few members.

2. Whose members have similar interests and backgrounds.

3. That have a high degree of status within the organization.

4. In which members have ready access to one another so that interpersonal communication is easy to maintain.

5. That are physically remote or isolated from other groups in the organization.

6. In which the leader rewards cooperative behavior.

7. That are pressured or threatened by some common outside force and

8. That have a history of past success.

2. What makes a Group Cohesive?

There are numerous sources of attraction to a group. A number of factors determine the degree to which a group is cohesive:

Size. Other things being equal, small groups have a greater probability of being cohesive than larger one. In larger groups the necessary interactions are inhibited, communication between members is reduced to a feeble walk and there is the danger of formation of sub-groups. Small groups offer frequent interaction opportunities leading to better understanding between members.

Location. People who work closely together in the same geographical location have numerous opportunities to interact and exchange ideas resulting in highly effective and cohesive groups than do people who are geographically separated.

Outside pressure. A favorite topic of novelists is to describe the plight of two warring individuals who through some quick of fate, find themselves dependent on each other for survival or gain. External threats create higher bonds between members. When the members perceive that the group is threatened by an external force they strive together to combat the collective threat. In the face of a common enemy, members forget their common differences and become cohesive.

Status of the group. A high status group that is successful in achieving its goals tends to have greater cohesiveness. Membership in such a group is highly rated than membership in a group widely denounced by all. It is better to be a “big fish in a little pond” or “a little fish in a big pond” than remain unnoticed as a “little fish in a little pond”.

Success. There is nothing like success to increase group spirit and cohesiveness. A near universal finding is that cohesiveness generally increases with success. Other reasons. Other reasons like compatible goals (goals of the group and the members are essentially alike and expressed in a clear language) attractive leaders (the group has a dynamic, energetic leader) collective power (people join groups to obtain personal power) also compel members to seek membership in well-knit groups.

3. Effect of Group Cohesion?

Research has generally shown that a cohesive group is more productive than a less cohesive group provided the group’s attitude aligns with the goals of the organization. For example if the group norm is a high level of performance, the more cohesive group is likely to influence each member toward higher productivity. On the other hand, if cohesiveness is high but attitudes unfavorable, productivity declines. A highly cohesive group is like a ‘time-bomb’ in the hands of management. Where the group norm is not supportive of performance, cohesive groups are less productive. Resistance to organizational changes is greater and where proper leadership is not providing, such groups can restrict output severely. “If management wishes to maximize productivity it must build a cohesive group and give it proper leadership.