Group Decision Making- Advantages, Disadvantages & Weaknesses
Group Decision Making
Group decisions may involve assimilating a huge amount of information, exploring many different ideas, and drawing on many strands of experience. And the consequences of the right or wrong decision may be profound for the team and the organization. For obvious reasons, decisions made in groups can vary considerably from those undertaken by individuals. It is this potential divergence in outcomes that make group decision making attractive.
Group decision-making is a situation faced when individuals collectively make a choice from the alternatives before them. The decision is then no longer attributable to any single individual who is a member of the group. This is because all the individuals and social group processes such as social influence contribute to the outcome.
The decisions made by groups are often different from those made by individuals. There is much debate as to whether this difference results in decisions that are better or worse.
According to the idea of synergy, decisions made collectively tend to be more effective than decisions made by a single individual. Factors that impact other social group behaviors also affect group decisions. Moreover, when individuals make decisions as part of a group, there is a tendency to exhibit a bias towards discussing shared information (i.e. shared information bias), as opposed to unshared in formation.
Advantages of Group Decision Making
Group decision making provides two advantages over decisions made by individuals: synergy and sharing of information.
- Synergy is the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When a group makes a decision collectively, its judgment can be keener than that of any of its members.
Through discussion, questioning, and collaboration, group members can identify more complete and robust solutions and recommendations. The sharing of information among group members is another advantage of the group decision-making process.
Group decisions take into account a broader scope of information since each group member may contribute unique in formation and expertise.
- Sharing information can increase understanding, clarify issues, and facilitate movement toward a collective decision.
Disadvantages of Group Decision Making
Diffusion of Responsibility
One possible disadvantage of group decision making is that it can create a diffusion of responsibility that results in a lack of accountability for outcomes. In a sense, if everyone is responsible for a decision, then no one is.
Moreover, group decisions can make it easier for members to deny personal responsibility and blame others for bad decisions.
Group decisions can also be less efficient than those made by an individual. Group decisions can take additional time because there is the requirement of participation, discussion, and coordination among group members.
Without good facilitation and structure, meetings can be considered in trivial details that may matter a lot to one person but not to the others.
One of the greatest inhibitors of effective group decision making is groupthink.
Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.
By isolating themselves from outside influences and actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints in the interest of minimizing conflict, group members reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints.
Strengths of Group Decision Making
- Groups generate more complete information and knowledge.
- By aggregating the resources of several individuals, groups bring more input into the decision process.
- In addition to more input, groups can bring heterogeneity the decision process. They offer increased diversity of views.
- A group will almost always outperform even the best individual. So, groups generate higher quality decisions.
- Finally, groups lead to increase acceptance of solutions. Many decisions fail after the final choice is made because people don’t accept the solution. Group members who participated in making a decision are likely to enthusiastically support the decision and encourage others to accept it.
Weaknesses of Group Decision Making
- Group decisions are time-consuming. They typically take more time to reach a solution than making the decision alone.
- Group decisions have conformity pressures in groups. The desire by group members to be accepted and considered an asset to the group can result in squashing any overt disagreement.
- Group decision can be dominated by one or a few members. If this dominated coalition is composed of low and medium ability members, the group’s overall effectiveness will suffer.
- Finally, group decisions suffer from ambiguous responsibility. In an individual decision, it’s clear who is accountable for the final outcome. In a group decision, the responsibility of any single member is watered down.
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