Prof. Stickney: In Group Projects, Conformity May Be a Detriment
May 4, 2017
Contact: Office of Government and Public Affairs
Think that group projects are always the best way to get results? Lisa Stickney, associate professor in the University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business, writes in a new article in Management Teaching Review that group dynamics may suppress individuals' better ideas—and conformity may be the final, sometimes debilitating result.
Prof. Stickney's article, which she co-authored with C. Melissa Fender of Rutgers University, is gaining traction in some leading management media, including Management INK, produced by Sage Publishing.
"Group projects are everywhere—whether you're at school, at work, or even in your household. It's customary to listen to each member of the group, and what he/she has to say about a strategy for approaching the project, or ways to improve the process in the future," Management INK says in its summary. "Often, the ideas are compounded and morphed into a strategy that the group can agree on, but does that mean someone would choose not to offer an idea if it's a different perspective than the 'norm'?"
The Management Teaching Review article says that social norms may contribute to an environment in which a teachable moment is missed—simply because the unstated goal of those in the group is to work within the confines established, sometimes subconsciously, by the group itself. The authors focus on the thinking and behavior that drives these imperatives.
Read the Management INK article.