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Concordia University Group and Organizational Dynamics Analysis Paper

Concordia University Group and Organizational Dynamics Analysis Paper

Question Description

In a two to three page paper, select three main points of the readings (such as group norms, diversity, creativity, etc. — however, you may choose whichever ones you would like) from this module to summarize briefly, draw connections between, and relate to your own experiences working in groups.

Also reply to the following two classmates with at least 100 words in a substantive way.

Setting aside social, political, and moral reasons for encouraging a more diverse workplace, there is arguably no better incentive for promoting diversity than the premise that diverse teams and organizations are more creative. But is there actually any evidence in support of this idea? And if there is, do the potential gains in creativity produced by diversity come at the expense of interpersonal harmony and team cohesion? Here are seven findings from science:

There’s a difference between generating ideas and implementing ideas. While diverse team composition does seem to confer an advantage when it comes to generating a wider range of original and useful ideas, experimental studies suggest that such benefits disappear once the team is tasked with deciding which ideas to select and implement, presumably because diversity hinders consensus. A meta-analysis of 108 studies and more than 10,000 teams indicated that the creativity gains produced by higher team diversity are disrupted by the inherent social conflict and decision-making deficits that less homogeneous teams create. It would therefore make sense for organizations to increase diversity in teams that are focused on exploration or idea generation, and use more-homogeneous teams to curate and implement those ideas. This distinction mirrors the psychological competencies associated with the creative process: divergent thinking, openness to experience, and mind wandering are needed to produce a large number of original ideas, but unless they are followed by convergent thinking, expertise, and effective project management, those ideas will never become actual innovations. For all the talk about the importance of creativity, the critical piece is really innovation. Most organizations have a surplus of creative ideas that are never implemented, and more diversity is not going to solve this problem.

Good leadership helps. The conflicts arising from diversity can be mitigated if teams are effectively led. This is hardly surprising: leadership is a fundamental resource for groups and organizations. It is the psychological process that enables individuals to set aside their selfish agendas to cooperate with others for the common benefit of the team, articulating the natural tension between our desire to get ahead of others and our need to get along with others. All of this is particularly important when teams are diverse, for it will be harder for team members to see things from other members’ perspectives, empathize with them, and suppress their own conscious and unconscious biases.

Too much diversity is problematic. Most studies assume that the relationship between diversity and creativity is linear, but recent evidence suggests that a moderate degree of diversity is more beneficial than a higher dose. This finding is consistent with the too-much-of-a-good-thing paradigm in management science, which provides compelling evidence for the idea that even the most desirable qualities have a dark side if taken to the extreme. In other words, all things are good in moderation (except moderation).

Deep-level diversity is key. Most discussions about diversity focus on demographic variables (e.g., gender, age, and race). However, the most interesting and influential aspects of diversity are psychological (e.g., personality, values, and abilities), also known as deep-level diversity. Indeed, there are several advantages to focusing on deep-level variables as opposed to demographic factors. First, whereas demographic variables perpetuate stereotypical and prejudiced characterizations, deep-level diversity focuses on the individual, allowing a much more granular understanding of human diversity. Regardless of whether you focus on bright- or dark-side personality characteristics, motives and values, or indeed creativity, group differences are trivial when compared with differences between individuals, even when the individuals are part of the same group.

Knowledge sharing is key. No matter how diverse the workforce is, and regardless of what type of diversity we examine, diversity will not enhance creativity unless there is a culture of sharing knowledge. Studies mapping the social networks of organizations have found higher levels of creativity in groups that are more interconnected, particularly when creative and entrepreneurial individuals are a central node in those networks.

Cynics are persuadable. Unlike coaching, which tends to benefit those who need it the least (those who really need it are, alas, often untouchable), diversity training is most effective with individuals who are skeptical of it. This is encouraging, though the challenge, of course, is to ensure that people who are cynical about diversity actually enroll in these training programs.

Other factors are much more salient. Although the question of whether diversity can foster creativity is both interesting and important, it is important to note that there are many other more influential drivers of creativity. As a seminal meta-analysis of 30 years of research showed, support for innovation, vision, task orientation, and external communication is the strongest determinant of creativity and innovation; most input variables, including team composition and structure, have much weaker effects. Likewise, developing expertise, assigning people to tasks that are meaningful and interesting, and improving creative thinking skills will produce higher gains in both individual and team creativity than focusing on diversity will. It should also be noted that a better way to promote both creativity and diversity is to select employees on the basis of their creativity, as opposed to their cognitive ability or educational credentials, for that alone would enhance the typical diversity level of organizations. In that sense, creativity may lead to diversity more than vice versa.

Diversity is the key to creativity. Not just diversity in your workforce, but in your personal life, the teams you form and the managers whom you hire and promote, explains Jeffrey Baumgartner.

Arguably, one of the most important ingredients for creative thinking is diversity. We all know that diverse teams produce more creative results than teams in which all members are from a similar background. Tests have shown that the one sure-fire way of improving your creativity is to move abroad. Not travel, but move. Living in a new culture, learning new ways of doing things and, in short, diversifying your life makes you more creative. That’s not surprising.

To understand why this is the case, let’s look at what creativity is. It is a mental process in which two or more bits of information come together in your mind to create a new and useful idea. (I use the word “useful” in its broadest sense here. Scientific evidence shows that schizophrenia is similar: various bits of information come together to form new ideas and beliefs. However, in this case the new ideas are not based in reality and can lead to delusions, hallucinations and paranoia).

This seems simple enough. But our minds organize information in a structured manner, so that similar pieces of information are associated with each other and effectively exist in proximity. Such structure is necessary for processing and managing all the data that is stored in our heads.

As a result, when you are looking for solutions to a problem – and virtually all creativity is the result of trying to solve some kind of problem – your brain tends to work with information that is related to the problem. For instance, if you want to impress a client with a business presentation, your immediate mental reaction will probably be to think about PowerPoint software, images, slogans, case studies and that kind of thing. All of these thoughts are associated with business presentations in your mind.

But, if you want to get creative, you need to diversify your thinking and encourage your mind to look for information associated with other concepts. For instance, you might think about drama, which is vaguely related to presentations, and have the creative idea to perform a small role play for a client, in order to demonstrate your company’s services in a more realistic way. This latter approach is more creative, basically as a result of diversifying your thinking.

In short, there are probably much better reasons for creating a diverse team and organization than boosting creativity. And if your actual goal is to enhance creativity, there are simpler, more effective solutions than boosting diversity.

Group Development

Group activities and behaviors result from member interaction and effective management. Acknowledging the different motives, personalities and skills at work within group development can lead to amiable success. Identifying connections and interpersonal communication within the group that can lead to disorganized behavior or poor problem-solving and decision-making processes help define the integrity and strength of group interactions. The characteristics of norms, cohesion and creativity impact group development in decision-making and problem-solving processes. An introductory understanding of concepts and connections help to identify positive and negative consequences within group communication and help establish foundational etiquette essential for success.


Norms, or the assumption of behavior within a group, define the nature of the group as well as the relationships between group members (Harris and Sherblom, 2011). They work to satisfy accepted rules of behavior, group standards, shared values and procedures that establish communication and guidance. Essentially, norms can be defined as etiquette within a group. Crucial and peripheral norms directly effect task performance, while explicit and implicit norms cover stated/unstated policies within the group. All norms are recognized in interactions between group members and group reactions.

Group Work

When the expectations of behavior are expressed withing a group, members can more readily unite in spoken and unspoken behaviors that influence group development. Understanding the norms of a group can help in making progress a routing manner as well as identify potential violations that would impede the groups progress.

Personal Relation

I am a member of several well-established masonic organizations, all of which have clearly identified norms – crucial, peripheral, implicit and explicit. For example, on-time behavior and regular attendance with clear guidelines for interaction during the meeting are examples of crucial and peripheral norms. Explicit and implicit norms are at play in dress standards, meeting etiquette, social role and community interaction. Because the meetings for all organizations are regular, communication patterns, routines and sequencing are clearly visible with nary an exception. Polite, courteous, gracious and honorable are well recognized norms in decision-making and problem-solving in and out of meetings.


The relationship between cohesion, decision making and problem-solving, and satisfaction lies in the interaction between group members. It closely parallels the sense of belonging and purpose one has as a member of a group. Cohesion influences that contribute to group development include size, background similarity, satisfaction (of task) and contentment (social), and prior group success (Harris and Sherblom, 2011).

Group Work

Positive consequences of cohesion such as recognizing members’ contributions, group inclusion and definite clarification aid in increased contribution, feelings of success and satisfactory performance. Negative consequences lean toward social loafing (reduction in motivation/effort by individuals causing reduced group performance) and groupthink (members who go along with and openly agree even if they disagree) causing other members to pick up slack and ‘over perform’ to maintain productivity. Group think tendencies also tend to occur when social loafing is increased, which can lead to poor decision making and problem-solving tendencies.

Personal Relation

Again, relating to my membership spanning multiple masonic organizations, cohesion can have a great influence on member contributions to activities and discussions that can have definitive impact on decisions made within the meeting. In one organization, for example, it is quite common for new members who have not yet established a sense of belonging to give in to groupthink, while the older members give way to social loafing.


Creativity includes new perceptions, responses and approaches to problem-solving skills – a way of doing something or seeing things that could enhance and/or expand the possibilities of a situation, discussion or product (Harris and Sherblom, 2011). Creativity can be blocked by our paradigms – how we interpret and react to the world around us. Changing these paradigms can add to the dynamics of group development. These dynamics of perceptual barriers (how we tend to view things), cultural barriers (acceptance of social/emotional needs within standardized norms) and emotional barriers (personal risk) change in a group as new tools to identify and solve tasks at hand are unlocked by a diverse atmosphere of interests, insights, habits and behaviors, that ultimately give birth to new solutions to rote decision-making and problem-solving skills.

Group Work

When we come together as a group, the barriers that restrain our creativity can create strain and impede forward progress. When we unlock ourselves from those preconceived routes and barriers to decision-making and problem-solving, we open ourselves to the creative processes at work within group climate, insights, problems, decisions and solutions.

Personal Relation

In one particular masonic organization, paradigms are essential to the routine but hamper creativity within the group. The ‘do as we’ve always done’ approach combined with the fear of being judged different or new lays to rest new skills, ideas and values that could help define new approaches and increase membership. Because the members ‘have always done it this way’, the younger creative approaches are doused before they ever get off the ground.


Harris, Thomas, E. and Sherblom, John C. (2011). Small Group and Team Communication, Fifth Edition. Pearson Education Inc. as Allyn & Bacon. Boston: MA.

These are the readings:

Harris and Sherblom, (2011) Small Group and Team Communication,

  • Chapter 3, “Norms, Roles, Cohesiveness, and Groupthink,”
  • Chapter 5, “Diversity in Groups: The Strength of Different Perspectives,”
  • Chapter 10, “Creativity in the Small Group Process.”
  • And read only pg. 27 of Chapter 2 on “Systems Theory.”

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