Social Loafing in the Workplace Essay

Social Loafing in the Workplace Essay

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The development of teams has become the essential element of many successful businesses. Teamwork helps increase the effectiveness, competitiveness, and productivity of organizations. Professional work teams are seen as being more efficient. Now studies are showing that individual’s typically fall short of their usual performance, when working in groups versus working alone. Teamwork can actually inhibit or even damage productivity.

Professional Work Teams

Most of today’s organizations use work teams to increase productivity. Professional work teams are seen as being more efficient. Now, studies are showing that individual’s typically fall short of their usual performance, when working in groups versus working alone (Dick, Tissington, & Hertel, 2009). Teamwork can actually inhibit or even damage productivity (Shepperd & Taylor, 1999). Individuals may not exert as much effort in a group setting as when they are alone (Williams, Harkins & Latané, 1981). Karau and Williams warned that, any job setting in which people’s unidentifiable efforts are combined into a single output might be susceptible to social loafing (Erez & Somech, 1996).

Social Loafing

One of the first recorded reports of social loafing was in 1913 by German agricultural engineer, Max Ringelmann. He recognized a collective group performance required less effort by individuals compared to the sum of their individual efforts (Kravitz & Martin, 1986). The phenomenon he noted was termed the “Ringlemann Effect”. Ringlemann determined that individuals perform below their potential when working in a group (Hassan, 2010). It happens because social pressure to perform is, in a sense, dissipated by the presence of others; an individual feels as if the other ...


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...hology Bulletin, 25(9), 1147-1158.
22. Stark, E. M., Shaw, J. D., & Duffy, M. K. (2007). Preference for Group Work, Winning Orientation, and Social Loafing Behavior in Groups. Group & Organization Management, 32(6), 699-723.
23. Tata, J. (2002). The Influence of Accounts On Perceived Social Loafing in Work Teams. International Journal of Conflict Management, 13(3), 292. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
24. Vroom, V. H. 1964. Work and motivation. New York: Wiley.
25. Williams, K. D., Harkins, S., & Latané, B. 1981. Identifiability as a deterrent to social loafing: Two cheering experiments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40: 303–311.
26. Williams, K. D., & Karau, S. J. (1991). Social Loafing and Social Compensation: The Effects of Expectations of Co-Worker Performance. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 61(4), 570-581. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

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