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Group Efficacy And Group Effectiveness: The Effects of Group Efficacy Over Time on Group Performance and Development

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Abstract

Group efficacy is an emerging construct that has great potential for small group perfor- mance. Several studies have linked group efficacy to increased productivity. However, few studies have examined the relationship between group efficacy and other group variables that contribute to long-term group productivity. This study addresses the relationship between group efficacy and other group variables. Specifically, it examines the relationships between group efficacy and group viability, personal learning and development, satisfaction with leadership opportunities, and the ability to work independently within the group. Results suggest that group efficacy has a beneficial effect on group dynamics and overall group effectiveness. Groups with higher levels of group efficacy rated higher on group viabil- ity, learning and self-development while within the group, and opportunities for individual autonomy. Group efficacy was not found to have an impact on satisfaction with leadership opportunities. Implications of these findings and suggestions for future research are addressed.
10.1177/1046496402239576 ARTICLESMALL GROUP RESEARCH / February 2003Pescosolido / GROUP EFFICACY AND GROUP EFFECTIVENESS
GROUP EFFICACY
AND GROUP EFFECTIVENESS
The Effects Of Group Efficacy
Over Time On Group Performance
And Development
ANTHONY T. PESCOSOLIDO
University of New Hampshire
Group efficacy is an emerging construct that has great potential for small group perfor
-
mance. Several studies have linked group efficacy to increased productivity. However, few
studies have examined the relationship between group efficacy and other group variables
that contribute to long-term group productivity. This study addresses the relationship
between group efficacy and other group variables. Specifically, it examines the relationships
between group efficacy and group viability, personal learning and development, satisfaction
with leadership opportunities, and the ability to work independently within the group.
Results suggest that group efficacy has a beneficial effect on group dynamics and overall
group effectiveness. Groups with higher levels of group efficacy rated higher on group viabil-
ity, learning and self-development while within the group, and opportunities for individual
autonomy. Group efficacy was not found to have an impact on satisfaction with leadership
opportunities. Implications of these findings and suggestions for future research are
addressed.
Keywords: group efficacy, group performance, teams
Recent findings in the area of group efficacy have established
strong links between group efficacy and group performance (Gib
-
son, 1999; Gist & Mitchell, 1992; Pescosolido, 2001; Peterson,
Mitchell, Thompson, & Burr, 1996; Silver & Bufiano, 1996). Sim
-
20
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article was originally presented at the 2001 meeting of the Acad
-
emy of Management in Washington, D.C. I am indebted to Vanessa Druskat, Ronald Fry, and
several anonymous reviewers for their assistance with earlier versions of this article.
SMALL GROUP RESEARCH, Vol. 34 No. 1, February 2003 20-42
DOI: 10.1177/1046496402239576
© 2003 Sage Publications
ply defined, group efficacy is the group’s collective estimate of its
ability to perform a task (Gibson, 1999). However, little work has
been done to examine the relationship between efficacy and group
factors other than short-term performance.
In this study, it is proposed that higher levels of group efficacy
affect other dynamics within the group. This leads to effects such as
a greater desire to continue working as a group, increased openness
to learning from other group members, greater satisfaction with
opportunities to lead the group, and increased opportunity to work
independently within the group.
This article represents the results of a study utilizing 26 teams of
MBA students in a midwestern university in the United States. The
student groups were observed over the course of one semester to
determine the relationship between the experience of group effi-
cacy and these other group dynamics. Results suggest that group
efficacy is linked to several of the dependent group dynamic vari-
ables. This suggests that the experience of group efficacy may have
a strong influence over other characteristics of group life, including
the length of time that group members are willing to continue work-
ing together. This is possibly due to lower perceptions of threat to
individual egos and to the relationships among group members.
This can also be interpreted to suggest that higher levels of group
efficacy lead to a more “cohesive” group, in the original sense of the
term wherein group efficacy is a force that acts to keep the group
together.
LITERATURE REVIEW
GROUP EFFICACY
One of the many methods that holds promise to increase the per
-
formance of groups is the building of group efficacy. Group effi
-
cacy has been defined as the group members’collective estimate of
the group’s ability to perform a specific task (Gibson, 1999). Group
efficacy differs from general confidence in that whereas confidence
is a general affective state, efficacy is extremely task specific.
Pescosolido / GROUP EFFICACY AND GROUP EFFECTIVENESS 21
Group efficacy has the potential to affect a group’s mission and
commitment, the manner in which group members work together,
and the group’s resilience in the face of difficulties (Bandura,
1997). Past researchers have established a strong link between
group efficacy and short-term group performance (Gist & Mitchell,
1992; Guzzo, Yost, Campbell, & Shea, 1993; Peterson et al., 1996;
Silver & Bufiano, 1996; Zander & Medow, 1964).
Durham, Locke, Poon, and McLeod (2000) found that one way
in which group efficacy affects group performance is through the
development of group-set goals. Silver and Bufiano (1996) also
hypothesized that the positive effect of group efficacy on perfor
-
mance comes through the mediating variable of group goals and the
goal-setting process. They found that group efficacy was cyclical in
nature. Perceptions of efficacy were formed by high performance
on an initial task; these then had a strong effect on group goals,
which in turn had a positive effect on later group performance. This
further links group efficacy to Bandura’s (1977, 1986, 1995, 1997)
concept of self-efficacy, which is also cyclical in nature, with self-
efficacy being strongly influenced by previous performance which
is in turn influenced by self-efficacy through the moderating vari-
ables of expectations, commitment, and goal setting.
How then is group efficacy initially developed? Bandura (1997)
proposes four sources of information that are thought to lead to the
development of self-efficacy. The first of these is past performance
accomplishment. In other words, an individual’s past successes and
failures will have a strong effect upon self-efficacy for the particu
-
lar task that one is facing at any given moment. If one has recently
experienced success at a task similar to that which one is currently
facing, then one is likely to experience high levels of self-efficacy.
Conversely, if one has recently experienced defeat at a task similar
to that which one is currently facing, then it is likely that one will
experience low levels of self-efficacy.
The second piece of information that Bandura (1997) proposes
to have an effect upon self-efficacy is that of vicarious experience.
Vicarious experience is realized either through visualization of suc
-
cessful performance or through the modeling of successful perfor
-
mance by someone who is similar to the individual. When one sees
22 SMALL GROUP RESEARCH / February 2003
someone who is similar to oneself perform a specific task success
-
fully, one’s self-efficacy for that task becomes higher. One sees that
the other person can do it and begins to believe that one can perform
the task as well. One’s own expectations for positive performance
have been raised.
Bandura’s (1997) third source of information that affects self-
efficacy is verbal persuasion. This is simply having other people
consistently express the belief that one is capable of performing in
the required manner. “It is easier to sustain a sense of efficacy, espe
-
cially when struggling with difficulties, if significant others
express faith in one’s capabilities” (Bandura, 1997, p. 101).
Although verbal persuasion is not the most effective manner of
increasing self-efficacy, it often plays a key role in keeping an indi
-
vidual involved in a task long enough to experience either vicarious
experience (others successfully modeling the behavior) or perfor-
mance accomplishment (experiencing success at the behavior
oneself).
Finally, Bandura (1997) says that physiological and emotional
arousal can affect self-efficacy. This depends primarily upon
whether the individual finds arousal to be a positive or negative
condition and also upon the level of success that the individual has
achieved at the specific task. Bandura states that arousal will have a
different effect upon performance of a task that requires learning
than it will upon a task that is well learned and simply requires per
-
formance, with extremely high levels of arousal facilitating the per
-
formance task but disrupting the task that requires learning. Conse
-
quently, physiological and emotional arousal can have either
positive or negative effects upon self-efficacy, depending upon the
individual and his or her interpretive bias.
For the purposes of this study, however, the factors that contrib
-
ute to the development of efficacy are not as important as the poten
-
tial effects of efficacy once it has been developed. To date, studies
on group efficacy have focused primarily upon its relationship to
short-term task performance and the possible mediating variables
between efficacy and group performance (Durham et al., 2000;
Gibson, 1999; Gist & Mitchell, 1992; Pescosolido, 2001; Peterson
et al., 1996; Silver & Bufiano, 1996). Therefore, to generate hypoth
-
Pescosolido / GROUP EFFICACY AND GROUP EFFECTIVENESS 23
eses regarding other possible effects of group efficacy, it is neces
-
sary to turn to self-efficacy theory.
In Hackett’s (1995) review of the role of self-efficacy in career
choice and development, she illustrates that self-efficacy plays a
strong role in individual career choices. Not only do efficacy beliefs
steer individuals toward certain careers and roles, but they are also
seen as influential in how determined an individual is to remain in
that career or role. This is seen not only with efficacy beliefs regard
-
ing career choices; academic self-efficacy beliefs are also found to
be strong predictors of both persistence and achievement (Hackett,
1995). This suggests that high self-efficacy leads to greater persis
-
tence in a task and also a greater willingness to continue performing
a certain task or to continue in a certain career.
Similarly, Bandura (1995) says that high levels of efficacy con-
tribute not only to higher levels of personal performance but also to
higher goals and higher levels of motivation. Bandura (1995) also
states that individuals with high levels of efficacy feel that they can
control potential environmental threats to desired outcomes and
consequently attend to environmental factors to manage them.
Additionally, Bandura (1995) suggests that individuals with high
levels of efficacy experience lower levels of anxiety due to greater
perception of control over results, greater perception of coping
ability should something go wrong, and greater willingness to take
on problematic situations that may threaten their desired goals. All
in all “an affirmative sense of efficacy contributes to psychological
well-being as well as to performance accomplishments” (Bandura,
1995, p. 12).
These writings suggest that higher levels of self-efficacy lead to
individuals that are more comfortable with their task, more
engaged with their task, and more willing to continue their task in
the face of obstacles, challenges, or setbacks. In Bandura’s (1986)
own early writing on group efficacy, he suggests that group efficacy
may have some similar effects upon an individual’s participation
within the group. He states that group efficacy “will influence what
people choose to do as a group, how much effort they put into it, and
their staying power when group efforts fail to produce results” (p.
24 SMALL GROUP RESEARCH / February 2003
449). How then does the experience of group efficacy relate empiri
-
cally to group dynamics and overall group effectiveness?
EFFICACY AND EFFECTIVENESS
When we look at Hackman’s (1990) definition of group effec
-
tiveness, we see that short-term performance is only one part of the
total picture of group effectiveness. Hackman (1990) proposes
three dimensions of group effectiveness:
1. productive output—the degree to which the group’s output meets the
standards of those that receive or use it;
2. capability to work interdependently—the degree to which the
group’s members are able to work together in the future; and
3. growth and well-being of members—the degree to which the experi-
ence of being in the group enhanced the individual members through
their own personal learning or development (Hackman, 1990).
According to this model, the group that performs its assigned
task well but is not able to work together in the future is not a truly
effective group. The future life of a group and its individual mem-
bers must be accounted for in determining the effectiveness of the
group as a whole.
When we look at these three dimensions of group effectiveness,
we see that group efficacy may have an important impact on groups
aside from its so far documented effect on “productive output.
What effect does high group efficacy have on the other two dimen
-
sions of group effectiveness? Does group efficacy help the group to
establish the capability to (a) work together interdependently in the
future and (b) contribute to the growth of all group members? A
recent study by Peterson et al. (1996) would suggest that it might do
this. They found that high group efficacy led to an increased inci
-
dence of shared mental models in groups. It is possible that this
higher incidence of shared mental models could lead to lower
amounts of group conflict (especially around group goals and strat
-
egies). Lower amounts of conflict could increase group members’
willingness to continue functioning as a group in the future.
Pescosolido / GROUP EFFICACY AND GROUP EFFECTIVENESS 25
Additionally, groups that experience high levels of efficacy are
more likely to set challenging goals for themselves (Durham et al.,
2000; Silver & Bufiano, 1996). This would not only lead to their
being more likely to achieve at a higher level (Durham et al., 2000;
Silver & Bufiano, 1996) but would also likely lead to group mem
-
bers’ experiencing higher levels of satisfaction with the group and
its performance. Going back to Bandura’s (1986) statement that
group efficacy “will influence what people choose to do as a group,
how much effort they put into it, and their staying power when group
efforts fail” (p. 449), it seems logical that high group efficacy would
lead to group members’ being willing to persevere with both the
specific task and the group context. Consequently, they would be
more likely to continue as a member of that task performance group
than would members of groups that do not experience high efficacy.
Hypothesis 1: Groups that exhibit higher levels of group efficacy will
show a stronger willingness to continue working together as a
group.
Individuals who experience high efficacy will be fairly certain
that they are able to meet the performance requirements of the task
ahead of them. This is one way to operationalize efficacy. When all
members of a group experience high efficacy, group members can
theoretically be freed from traditional ways of performing to exper-
iment with new methods, roles, and behaviors. The fact that the
group’s successful performance is not in doubt allows group mem
-
bers to focus on ways to improve their performance, broaden their
skills, or explore new areas of competence. Silver and Bufiano’s
(1996) study on group efficacy and group goal setting suggests that
groups with high levels of efficacy are more willing to focus on per
-
formance improvement (as opposed to achievement) to attain those
higher goals. Research on self-efficacy also supports this idea.
Zimmerman’s (1995) review of self-efficacy and academic perfor
-
mance shows that individuals with higher self-efficacy set higher
goals for themselves and also engage in self-regulation of their own
learning to achieve those goals. Additionally, individuals with
higher levels of efficacy were shown to engage in higher standards
26 SMALL GROUP RESEARCH / February 2003
of self-evaluation and to be more strategic in the management of
their learning (Zimmerman, 1995). Consequently, it would be
expected that individuals in groups with high efficacy would have
greater desire, and lower barriers, to spending their time concen
-
trating on learning and self-development, as opposed to focusing
solely on task performance.
Hypothesis 2: Members of high-efficacy groups will report higher
amounts of learning and self-development than will members of
lower efficacy groups.
Along with these increased opportunities for self-development
and learning comes the opportunity for group members to experi
-
ment with new roles. For many group members, this may include
taking a leadership role on one or more tasks that the group must
perform to reach its overall goal. As the group becomes increas-
ingly efficacious and they become more focused on learning and
development than on performance, group members also become
more tolerant of changes in group leadership. In other words, group
leadership becomes an area that is open for experimentation and
improvement, and one way that this may be done is by having other
members assume the role of group leader. Additionally, as group
efficacy increases, individual members who had previously been
hesitant about assuming a leadership role due to lack of individual
confidence may be more willing to step into that role. Accordingly,
we might expect more group members to experiment with the role
of group leadership in high-efficacy groups. Group members
experimenting with a leadership role would likely experience
greater responsibility for the task as well as greater skill variety,
consequently leading to greater satisfaction with both the task and
the group (Hackman, 1986).
Therefore, it may be expected that in the course of trying new
roles and responsibilities and experimenting with new ways of
working together, more group members would be involved in
group leadership activities. Consequently, it is expected that the
members of high-efficacy groups will report higher levels of satis
-
faction with the group leadership opportunities available to them.
Pescosolido / GROUP EFFICACY AND GROUP EFFECTIVENESS 27
Hypothesis 3: Members of high-efficacy groups will report higher lev
-
els of satisfaction with the group leadership opportunities available
to them within the group than will members of low-efficacy groups.
Another potential aspect of the increased opportunities for self-
development and learning in high-efficacy groups is the opportu
-
nity for individual group members to work with a certain amount of
autonomy and independence from the group itself. In a group with
high levels of efficacy, it may be assumed that individual group
members would be capable of handling their own individual work
assignments and that they would have the understanding to know if
and when they required assistance from the group at large. This is
based on Bandura’s (1995) statement that individuals experiencing
high levels of efficacy experience higher levels of control over the
process and the results, as well as higher perceptions of their ability
to cope with external events that may affect their performance. It is
thought that individual members of a high-efficacy group will have
high expectations of their own levels of control and coping ability,
as well as those of their fellow group members. This could lead to a
lower need for control over the details of the group performance
process because it would be assumed that the group as a whole
could recover from any individual mistake. This in turn would lead
to greater acceptance of individual autonomy and self-regulation
within the group process, as long as individual effort was in the
direction of the overall group goals.
Hypothesis 4: Members of high-efficacy groups will report greater
opportunities to work independently within the group context than
will members of low-efficacy groups.
A research study was designed to test these hypotheses and gain
a greater understanding of the group-level effects of efficacy.
METHOD
Participants were 130 MBA students at a midwestern university
in the United States. All students were engaged in a semester-long
28 SMALL GROUP RESEARCH / February 2003
research project as part of a small group. A total of 26 groups of 5
students each participated in the study. All students were informed
that their participation in the study was voluntary and that their par
-
ticipation would not affect their grade.
Each group was observed twice throughout the semester, once at
the beginning and then again near the end of the semester. These
observations were made during the course of the group’s regularly
scheduled meetings. The first meeting occurred when the group’s
work was just beginning (most groups had just finished choosing
their project topic and were preparing to write an initial report on
project choice and expectations). The second meeting occurred
during the final phases of the project, as they were writing the final
report and preparing to give an oral presentation on the topic.
Immediately after the end of the meeting, group members were
given a short questionnaire. This was done with the intent that their
reactions to the survey questions would be influenced by their dis-
cussion of the project they were undertaking. Consequently, it is
expected that the measurements would be influenced by reports by
various group members, decisions about assignments for different
parts of the project, discussions about the difficulties that group
members were having, and other information about the project.
The questionnaire asked group members to give a confidence
level that their group was capable of earning specific grades
(adapted from Silver & Bufiano, 1996). They were given a range of
grades from < 69 to 100 and asked to “Estimate the probability that
your group is capable of getting each grade range (i.e., What do you
think is the probability of your group’s getting a 90-93? What do
you think is the probability of your group’s getting an 87-90?)” The
highest score that the individual was 100% sure of receiving was
counted as that individual’s efficacy score (M = 90.3, range = 80-
100, SD = 2.3). The scores of individual group members were later
combined to create an average efficacy score for the group (M =
90.3, range = 84.3-94.2, SD = 2.4).
After all group members had completed the questionnaire, the
group was then asked to come up with a group response to the ques
-
tion “What is the highest grade level that you feel 100% sure that
you are capable of achieving as a group? What factors will enable
Pescosolido / GROUP EFFICACY AND GROUP EFFECTIVENESS 29
or inhibit you from achieving that grade?” The group members then
engaged in a discussion about what grade they felt they could
achieve and the internal and external factors that would contribute
to their performance. The grade on which they reached consensus
was labeled as their group efficacy score (M = 92.4, range = 84-96,
SD = 2.6). Table 1 presents the descriptive statistics for the different
efficacy scores and breaks them down by the first and second
observations.
At the end of the second observation period, group members
were given a second questionnaire after completing the efficacy
questionnaire. This second questionnaire consisted of several
Likert-type scales addressing the dependent variables of willing
-
ness to continue working together, amount of learning and self-
development occurring within the group context, satisfaction with
leadership opportunities, and opportunities to work independently
within the group. Each of these variables was measured through the
use of questions based on Hackman’s (1987) Flight Crew Survey.
Responses to these questions were by means of a 5-point Likert-
type scale, with 1 being strongly disagree and 5 being strongly
agree. Descriptive statistics and exact wording for all measures are
listed in Table 2.
Individual responses to the scales were aggregated to the team
level because aggregation was consistent with Rousseau’s (1985)
suggestion that the level of analysis be based on the focal unit of the
study. The area of interest in this study is the potential relationship
between group cohesion and group dynamics, thus the focal unit of
the dependent measures was the group. To determine if aggregation
of dependent variables to the group level was empirically justifi
-
able, the intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) test (Shrout &
Fleiss, 1979) was performed. The ICC test has been discussed as
difficult to pass because significance requires both high within-
team agreement and low between-team agreement (see James,
Demaree, & Wolf, 1984). ICC analyses showed all four scales sig
-
nificant at the p < .01 level. Consequently, it was believed that these
analyses supported the conceptual argument for aggregation, and
the scales were aggregated. Results of the intraclass correlations
are also listed in Table 2.
30 SMALL GROUP RESEARCH / February 2003
31
TABLE 1: Descriptive Statistics of Efficacy Scores for the Whole Sample, Time 1 and Time 2 Observations
Whole Time 1 Time 2
M Range SD n M Range SD n M Range SD n
Individual scores 90.3 80-100 2.3 60 90.0 80-100 2.6 130 90.5 84-96 2.2 130
Group average efficacy
score 90.3 84.3-94.2 2.4 52 90.0 84.3-94.2 2.6 26 90.5 85.1-94.0 2.2 26
Group efficacy scores 92.4 84-96 2.6 52 91.9 84-96 2.8 26 92.8 85-96 2.4 26
RESULTS
As a check on both the efficacy measurement and the appropri-
ateness of the task, Pearson’s r correlations were computed to deter-
mine the relationship between the group-level measures of efficacy
and the grade received on the group’s project. A significant rela-
tionship was revealed, corroborating the results of other research-
ers studying the effects of group efficacy (Gibson, 1999; Gist &
Mitchell, 1992; Pescosolido, 2001; Peterson et al., 1996; Silver &
Bufiano, 1996). Table 3 displays the correlations between individ
-
ual efficacy scores, mean efficacy scores, and group efficacy scores
with the group grades. Although in this case, all three efficacy mea
-
sures had significant relationships with the group’s project grade,
the group efficacy measure (come to through group discussion) was
used for further analyses as this method has been shown to be a
better predictor of group performance than has aggregation of indi
-
vidual member responses (Gibson, Randel, & Earley, 2000).
As an additional check, t tests were conducted to examine the
data for significant differences between the first and second mea
-
32 SMALL GROUP RESEARCH / February 2003
TABLE 2:
Descriptive Statistics, Intraclass Coefficients, and Exact Wording for All
Dependent Variables
ICC
M SD F Statistic
Willingness to continue as a group
“I am looking forward to continuing
as a member of this team” 4.41 1.03 3.16**
Level of learning and self-development
“I have learned a lot from my team-
mates on this project” 4.44 1.91 4.79**
Satisfaction with leadership opportunities
“Members of this team share respon-
sibility for its leadership” 3.66 .79 4.85**
Opportunities for independent work
“I have done much of my work on this
project independently of the team” 3.18 1.12 4.72**
NOTE: ICC = intraclass correlation coefficient. Scales ranged from 1 to 5. N = 130.
*p < .05. **p < .01.
surement. Interestingly, no significant differences were found
between the first and second group efficacy measurements.
Pearson’s r correlations were computed to determine if there
was indeed a positive relationship between group efficacy and the
dependent variables of willingness to continue as a group, learning
and self-development, satisfaction with leadership opportunities,
and ability to work independently within the group. Significant cor-
relations were observed between the original efficacy measure-
ment and the dependent variables of willingness to continue as a
group, learning and self-development, and working independently
within the group. Table 4 reports the Pearson’s r correlations and
their significance levels.
A multiple regression analysis revealed that early levels of group
efficacy did contribute significantly to group member willingness
to continue as a member of the group, learning and self-develop
-
ment, and ability to work independently within the context of the
group. This result supports Hypotheses 1 (group efficacy will con
-
tribute to member willingness to remain with the group), 2 (group
efficacy will contribute to member learning and self-development),
and 4 (group efficacy will contribute to member ability to work
independently within the group context). Hypothesis 3 (group effi
-
cacy will contribute to group member satisfaction with leadership
opportunities) was not supported by this analysis. Table 5 presents
the summary of multiple regression analyses.
Pescosolido / GROUP EFFICACY AND GROUP EFFECTIVENESS 33
TABLE 3:
Pearson’s r Correlations Between Average and Group Efficacy Scores ×
Group Grade for Whole Sample, Time 1 and Time 2
Whole
Sample Time 1 Time 2
N = 52 n = 26 n = 26
r r r
Group Efficacy × Group Grade .62 < .01 .60 < .01 .60 < .01
Average Efficacy × Group Grade .54 < .01 .50 < .01 .59 < .01
Individual Efficacy × Group Grade .50 < .01 .44 < .05 .60 < .01
DISCUSSION
This study examined the relationship of group efficacy to several
variables thought to affect overall group effectiveness. These vari-
ables were willingness to continue as a group, individual learning
and development, satisfaction with leadership opportunities, and
ability to work independently of the group. The results were sup-
portive of several of the hypotheses. As predicted, group efficacy
had a pronounced positive impact on member willingness to con-
tinue as a group, individual learning and self-development occur-
ring while a member of the group, and the ability to work independ-
ently as a member of the group. No significant effects of group
efficacy were found on satisfaction with leadership opportunities.
These results suggest that group efficacy has strong effects on
overall group effectiveness that has not been previously docu
-
mented. Whereas previous research has documented the effect of
group effectiveness on short-term group productivity, its relation
-
ship to other aspects of group effectiveness has been largely
neglected until now.
Early levels of group efficacy were found to have a strong rela
-
tionship to willingness to continue as a group, perceived learning
and self-development of group members, and the ability to work
independently as a member of the group. These three variables are
very important to overall group effectiveness (as defined by Hack
-
man, 1991), as well as to long-term group productivity.
34 SMALL GROUP RESEARCH / February 2003
TABLE 4:
Pearson’s r Correlations Between Group Efficacy Scores × Dependent
Group Effectiveness Variables
Time 1 Time 2
Efficacy Efficacy
n = 26 n = 26
r r
Willingness to continue as a group .51 < .01 .27 > .05
Learning and self-development .48 < .05 .30 > .05
Satisfaction with leadership opportunities .31 > .05 .04 > .05
Ability to work independently within the group .50 < .01 .33 > .05
High levels of group efficacy could lead to increased willingness
to continue as a group through several mechanisms. The first of
these is shared cognition, or shared mental models, within the
group. Peterson et al. (1996) suggest that groups with higher levels
of group efficacy tend to have a higher incidence of shared cogni-
tion about the group’s task and the steps that the group will need to
take to achieve that task. This increase in shared cognition could
lead to a decrease in conflict within the group, thus creating a more
harmonious group and less reason for any individual to want to
leave the group.
Another alternative is that high levels of group efficacy are asso-
ciated with higher feelings of self-confidence among group mem-
bers. The two constructs of efficacy and confidence are closely
related. In fact, efficacy has been defined in terms of confidence to
perform a particular task (Bandura, 1977). Consequently, one
could expect an increase in feelings of control, competence, and
well-being to accompany an increase in perceptions of efficacy.
Most group members would perceive this as a positive experience
and one that they would choose to continue by remaining in the
group in which this experience took place.
The willingness and ability of group members to continue work
-
ing together is becoming increasingly recognized as a key element
to long-term group success (Hackman, 1991). Groups that can con
-
tinue to work together after achieving their short-term goals cost
less to the organization. They do not require additional time and
Pescosolido / GROUP EFFICACY AND GROUP EFFECTIVENESS 35
TABLE 5:
Results of Regression Analysis for Time 1 and Time 2 Efficacy on Depend
-
ent Variables
a
Time 1 Efficacy Time 2 Efficacy
n = 26 n = 26
t t
Willingness to continue as a group member .50 (.07) 2.86** .27 (.07) 1.39
Learning and self-development .48 (.07) 2.66* .30 (.07) 1.52
Satisfaction with leadership opportunities .30 (.06) 1.57 .04 (.05) 0.19
Ability to work independently within the group .50 (.07) 2.83** .33 (.06) 1.72
a. Standard error given in parentheses.
*p < .05. **p < .01.
money to be spent in getting to know each other. They do not
require additional time for the formation of ground rules and oper
-
ating guidelines. Additionally, they are able to take advantage of
knowing fellow group members’ areas of competence and exper
-
tise. These factors combine to allow a group to become both more
efficient and more effective over time.
The higher perceptions of control, competence, and well-being
accompanying high group efficacy may also be the main factor
behind the relationship between group efficacy and learning and
self-development within the group. Zajonc (1965) was perhaps the
first to document the curvilinear relationship between arousal and
learning. Whereas moderate levels of arousal are linked with fairly
high levels of learning, high levels of arousal contribute to low lev
-
els of learning. This has been assumed to be due to the fact that
highly aroused individuals are too anxious to focus on learning;
rather they are focused on short-term outcomes. In this context,
high levels of group efficacy may moderate group members’ expe-
rience of arousal. This essentially produces a group of calmer indi-
viduals, who are better able to focus on long-term goals such as
group viability and individual learning. This is becoming increas-
ingly important in modern organizational settings, as organizations
are faced with increasing needs for change to adapt to a rapidly
changing environment. In many modern companies, the pace of
learning is increasingly becoming known as a major source of com
-
petitive advantage (Kofman & Senge, 1993).
The increased levels of control, competence, and well-being
may also be the major contributing factor to the link between group
efficacy and the ability to work independently within the group. In a
group setting, allowing one member to work independently of the
group is an inherently risky decision. That individual group mem
-
ber may not have the skills needed to independently accomplish the
task, may have a different opinion regarding the priority of the task,
or may have a different opinion regarding the final outcome of that
independent task. In other words, when a group delegates an indi
-
vidual to perform a particular task, the other group members have
to trust that the individual is competent, responsible, and clearly
understands the group requirements. In a group that is experiencing
36 SMALL GROUP RESEARCH / February 2003
high efficacy, these are likely to occur for several reasons. First, a
group that has high group efficacy would tend to assume that indi
-
vidual group members were both competent and responsible.
These attributes of individual group members would contribute to
the perception of group efficacy. Second, a group that has high effi
-
cacy tends to have highly shared cognition (or mental models)
about the task and its components (Peterson et al., 1996). This
would lead to high confidence that individual members would view
their independent tasks in a similar light with the group as a whole.
Consequently, they are likely to give their independent task a simi
-
lar priority to that given it by the group as a whole, and they are
likely to seek a very similar required output to that sought by the
group as a whole. Finally, group members in a highly efficacious
group would be likely to think that they had the capability of recov-
ering from a mistake made by an individual group member. Thus,
the thought of an individual performing independently from the
group is inherently a less risky proposition, and so individuals will
find that the group will more readily accept proposals for autono-
mous work.
It was hypothesized that group efficacy would have a significant
impact upon satisfaction with leadership opportunities, based upon
the thought that efficacious group members would be more willing
to explore new roles and responsibilities. However, this hypothesis
was not supported by the data. This suggests that group leadership
is not a role that is open for learning and exploration. One explana
-
tion for this is that those individuals who are inclined toward a
group leadership position strive to undertake leadership activities
regardless of group efficacy. Some recent theories of leadership
depict it as a process or set of actions that is open to all group mem
-
bers (see Northouse, 2001). However, these data suggest that the
role of group leader may be influenced mostly by the desire of spe
-
cific individuals, rather than through a democratic or situational
process.
Interestingly enough, although the efficacy measurement taken
at the beginning of the group’s project had significant relationships
with several of the dependent variables mentioned above, the effi
-
cacy measurement taken at the end of the group project did not have
Pescosolido / GROUP EFFICACY AND GROUP EFFECTIVENESS 37
any significant relationships. Although it has been documented that
perceptions of group efficacy do change over time based upon
changing events, assessments of group strengths, and assessments
of the task (Pescosolido, 2001), the change in efficacy perception
apparently does not lead to short-term adjustments in group pro
-
cesses and procedures. This suggests that early perceptions of
group efficacy have a strong effect upon group processes and pro
-
cedures. These processes and procedures then become set in place
until the group has some cause to reexamine them. This cause
would probably be based upon external feedback regarding the
group’s performance.
These results suggest that it is important to foster the impression
of group efficacy early on in a group’s existence. The results of
early perceptions of high efficacy can be seen to lead to improve-
ments in both short-term performance and in factors affecting long-
term effectiveness and viability. Unfortunately, little is known
about the actions that can be taken to develop high levels of group
efficacy (Pescosolido, 2001). What is clear, however, is that early
levels of efficacy contribute significantly to a group’s willingness
and ability to function together over long periods of time, to learn
from each other and from the context of their work, and to work
independently while within the group context.
LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH
This research has several limitations that should be noted. The
first of these is that it makes a causal argument (that group efficacy
influences willingness to continue as a group, learning within the
group, and ability to work autonomously within the group) from
data that is essentially correlational. This is partially remedied by
the role that time played in this study. The fact that early measure
-
ments of efficacy correlated more strongly with the dependent vari
-
ables than did later measurements of efficacy adds credibility to the
analyses. Although a correlational relationship has been observed
here between early levels of efficacy and group dynamics, an argu
-
ment of reverse causality does not make logical sense because of
38 SMALL GROUP RESEARCH / February 2003
the element of time. In other words, it is difficult to understand how
group dynamics at the end of the group’s project could have
affected group efficacy at the beginning of the group’s project.
Consequently, this relationship is being framed as essentially
causal in nature. However, arguments can be made that there are
many other variables that could have influenced the dependent vari
-
ables utilized in this study. It is hoped that future studies could uti
-
lize more frequent observations and time-series techniques to more
precisely model the relationship between group efficacy and group
processes and procedures. Additionally, closer observations of
groups could better identify the mechanisms by which group effi
-
cacy has an effect upon various measures of both group perfor
-
mance and group member satisfaction.
The second major limitation of this study is the sample, which is
very homogeneous (consisting entirely of part-time MBA students
in groups that were formed for one semester only). A more diverse
sample would be able to see groups at a multitude of different times
in their life cycle, which would help future researchers more pre-
cisely determine the relationship between group efficacy and group
processes. Another limitation regarding the sample used in this
research is that these groups were working toward a single perfor-
mance, the completion of a group research paper. It is not known
how the completion and presentation of the group’s work would
effect either efficacy beliefs or group processes. Research that
examined groups that needed to engage in multiple performance
situations over time, and had the opportunity to receive feedback
and adjust their working processes, would shed valuable light on
the subject.
Additionally, it would be very useful to measure the influence of
group interventions that were specifically designed to change the
perception of group efficacy. For instance, if group members are
given information regarding the task and their resources that led
them to believe that they were either more or less likely to succeed,
would this information influence their group efficacy and thus their
willingness to continue, their ability to learn, and their ability to
work independently within the group context? A research design
that was more experimental, allowing for the manipulation of
Pescosolido / GROUP EFFICACY AND GROUP EFFECTIVENESS 39
group efficacy, would afford much greater insight into the relation
-
ships addressed in this study.
Finally, this article measured self-reports of willingness to con
-
tinue as a group, learning while in the group, and ability to work
independently within the group. A more rigorous study would
include additional, and perhaps more objective, reports based on
group member behavior and group productivity.
CONCLUSIONS
This research suggests that early levels of group efficacy have a
strong influence on group processes and procedures. It also sug
-
gests that early manipulation of group efficacy beliefs, either by
group members or by information originating outside of the group,
could have significant effects on group member attitudes about the
group and their work within the group. Although little research has
been done on how group efficacy perceptions can be changed, this
could be a promising area for future research and application.
The larger implication of this research is that group efficacy and
its associated expectation effects may have large implications that
have not been sufficiently examined. It is especially important that
these effects seem to be set in place early on in the life of the group,
emphasizing the significance of a group’s start-up period and the
associated processes of developing norms, roles, and ground rules.
These findings could lead to a variety of research examining the
role of group efficacy in overall group development. For example:
Do high levels of group efficacy contribute to a different cycle of
group development? Do groups that have high early efficacy per
-
ceptions experience conflict over different issues than groups that
have low early efficacy perceptions? Does efficacy play a role in the
behavioral patterns that emerge during the first half of a group’s
working life? What are the behaviors and procedures enacted in
high efficacy groups that contribute to these higher levels of satis
-
faction and learning?
This study found significant relationships between early group
efficacy perceptions and group member willingness to continue as
40 SMALL GROUP RESEARCH / February 2003
a member of the group, perception of learning, and ability to work
independently within the group. It also found that the early percep
-
tions of group efficacy had a much stronger relationship to these
variables than did later perceptions of group efficacy. These results
suggest that group efficacy plays a large role in the establishment of
group processes and procedures, which in turn affect how group
members work and interact over the lifetime of the group.
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Anthony Pescosolido is an assistant professor in the Department of Management
within the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New
Hampshire. His research interests include emergent leadership, the impact of emo-
tional expression on group processes and productivity, and group processes that lead
to long-term group effectiveness. His research has appeared in Human Relations,
Leadership Quarterly, and Small Group Research.
42 SMALL GROUP RESEARCH / February 2003
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Thesis
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Процесът по формиране на организационна култура започва от създаването на компанията. Поради функциите, които изпълнява, а именно на вътрешна интеграция и външна адаптация, тя има жизненоважна роля за оцеляването и развитието на всяка организация. Сама по себе си тя не е необходимото и достатъчно условие да се постигне бизнес ефективност и печалба, защото в контекста, в който функционират организациите има външни и вътрешни фактори, оказващи влияние. Поради тази причина е необходимо типът култура да се адаптира спрямо периода от жизнения цикъл на компанията. Предизвикателствата пред новостартиралите организации (до шестата година от създаването) са многобройни: те са в процес на изграждане на организационна култура, структура, работни практики и формализирани модели на вътрешногрупова комуникация, дефиниране на общи организационни цели, разпределение на отговорности. Статистиката е изключително негативна: от стартиралите през 2014 г. американски компании, само 56% са били все още активни през 2018 г. (според US Bureau of Labor), а над 90% от стартиращите компании се провалят (Marmer, Herrmann, Dogrultan & Berman, 2011), докато броят им и икономическото им значение растат всяка година: увеличение от 322% в рамките на 10 години и общи икономически принос от $2.3 трилиона само за периода 2015 - 2017 година. Глобално направената инвестиция в новостартирали компании през 2017 г. е $140 милиарда (според международния доклад "Startup Genome"). Данни за България липсват. Сред топ 5 причини защо компаниите се провалят се оказват фактори като “създаване на неподходящ екип”, “липса на фокусирана стратегия, отговорност и мотивация, умение за адаптация спрямо промените на средата”. Всичко това се влияе, създава и/ли управлява чрез организационната култура. Именно затова е важно да се анализира профила на организационната култура, да се потърсят връзките между нея и феномени като групова ефективност на компаниите. При евентуално установяване на такава каузалност, новостартиралите компании биха имали практически насоки за развитие и в този смисъл, контрол над успеха си. Изследване на формирането на организационна култура и групова ефективност при новостартиращи компании в България досега не е провеждано. Успехът на тези компании би означавал създаване на работни места и нови, често пъти иновативни продукти. Просперитетът на новостартиращите компании би оказал положителен ефект не само върху икономическия растеж на България, а и върху нейния цялостен имидж, което е силна мотивация за провеждането на това изследване. Дисертационният труд съдържа две теоретични глави, които разглеждат организационната култура, груповата ефективност и други фактори, които се допуска, че си взаимодействат, а именно груповата ефикасност и професионалния стрес. Направено е емпирично изследване сред български и американски новостартиращи компании. В заключение и на база анализ на получените от него резултати, са изведени препоръки, които стартъпите могат да приложат, за да постигнат организационен успех.
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