Argument Complexity and Discussions of Political/Religious Issues

[We’re pleased to welcome authors, Dr. Lyn M. Van Swol of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Dr. Cassandra L. Carlson-Hill Carolina of Coastal Universit, and Dr. Emily Elizabeth Acosta Lewis of Sonoma State University. They recently published an article in Small Group Research entitled “Integrative Complexity, Participation, and Agreement in Group Discussions,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Van Swol discusses some of the findings of this research:]

SGR_72ppiRGB_powerpointPolitical and religious issues can be difficult to discuss in a group, and it can be especially difficult to convince others who disagree with your viewpoint. This paper examined the role of complexity of arguments in a group discussion of a political/religious issue. Groups discussed whether or not the words “under God” should be in the United States Pledge of Allegiance. We had hypothesized that group members whose opinion were more similar to their fellow group members would increase the complexity of their contributions to the group when they were exposed to group members with more fringe opinions, but this was not supported. However, members with more fringe opinions in the group were more successful in influencing the group towards their opinion when they used more complex arguments. Argument complexity did not matter for group members with more mainstream views in terms of how much they influenced the group decision. Because group members with more fringe and discrepant opinions cannot appeal to their opinion being normative and aligned with the majority in the group, it may be important for them to have complex arguments to be persuasive. Complex arguments tend to be more nuanced and less dogmatic, which may make someone with an opinion more different from others in the group seem more flexible and informed. Finally, arguments used by members in the group discussion were more complex when the group had a longer discussion. This highlights the benefits of extending group discussion to let more nuances of the topic of discussion get expressed.

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The Relationships Between Stress, Drinking, and Complaints at Work

stress-2051408_1920[We’re pleased to welcome authors Jeremy D. Mackey of Auburn University and Pamela L. Perrewé of Florida State University. They recently published an article in the Group and Organization Management entitled “The Relationships Between Hindrance Stressors, Problem Drinking, and Somatic Complaints at Work” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Mackey speaks about the motivation and challenges of this research:]

GOM_72ppiRGB_powerpointPam Perrewé and I were excited to publish our paper entitled “The Relationships between Hindrance Stressors, Problem Drinking, and Somatic Complaints at Work” in Group & Organization Management. We were motivated to conduct our study on the indirect effects of hindrance stressors on somatic complaints at work through problem drinking because we were interested in examining the impact of problem drinking on organizational stress processes. Our conceptualization of problem drinking examines alcohol consumption that is personally and/or socially harmful. Although problem drinking has been widely studied in psychology research, its effects have yet to be fully illuminated in organizational research. Thus, we sought to examine the effects of perceptions of workplace obstacles (i.e., hindrance stressors) on physiological strain (i.e., somatic complaints at work) through problem drinking. We hope our innovative conceptualization of problem drinking as a self-medication coping mechanism impacts research and practice by encouraging researchers and practitioners to examine the role of employees’ attempts to cope with organizational stress by engaging in problem drinking.

The most challenging aspect of conducting our study was how to appropriately examine problem drinking in organizational contexts. Problem drinking is a sensitive topic and there is little precedent for how to appropriately study it in organizational settings. Ultimately, we opted to examine employees’ frequencies of problem drinking because it was appropriate for our research question and study design. We recommend that other scholars who pursue this field of study consider the numerous ways of measuring problem drinking in order to choose appropriate ways to measure it for their research goals. For example, examining quantities of alcohol consumed, drinking to intoxication, the frequency/intensity of experienced hangovers, and problem drinking within the workplace all offer useful ways for future research to examine problem drinking and assess its effects on groups and organizations.

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A Meta-Analysis of Gender Proportionality Effects on Job Performance

gender-equality-1977912_1920 (1)[We’re pleased to welcome authors Jeremy D. Mackey of Auburn University, Philip L. Roth of Clemson University, Chad H. Van Iddekinge of Florida State University, and Lynn A Mcfarland of the University of South Carolina. They recently published an article in Group & Organization Management entitled “A Meta-Analysis of Gender Proportionality Effects on Job Performance,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they discuss their motivations and findings:]

GOM_72ppiRGB_powerpointPhil Roth, Chad Van Iddekinge, Lynn McFarland, and I began working on our study entitled “A Meta-Analysis of Gender Proportionality Effects on Job Performance” because we wanted to examine whether gender proportionality (i.e., the percentage of females in an organization) affects females’ job performance relative to males’ job performance. Overall, we found weak effects of gender proportionality on job performance. Specifically, we found support for a no token effect perspective rather than a linear or curvilinear token effect perspective. Our findings are important because they challenge the prevailing wisdom of critical mass theory and the tokenism hypothesis. We hope our study stimulates additional research in this important area of inquiry.

The most challenging aspect of conducting our research was its scope. Research that examines gender effects on performance has affected numerous fields, including management, applied psychology, sociology, and criminal justice. Thus, it was a challenge to determine the appropriate scope for our study so our results could be generalizable. Ultimately, we included data from 158 independent studies that included a total of 101,071 respondents.

The most surprising finding from our study was the consistent lack of support for linear or curvilinear effects of gender proportionality on job performance across types of performance (i.e., overall subjective job performance, task performance, OCBs, and objective performance) and features of study designs. Overall, our findings were consistent for respondents from civilian or military organizations, whether single or multiple organizations were included in each sample, regardless of whether respondents had managerial or non-managerial jobs, whether there were traditional stereotypes of men’s work or women’s work for respondents’ jobs, regardless of administrative or research purposes for each study, despite whether each study was published or unpublished, and regardless of the year of publication of each study.

Despite our findings, we encourage future research to examine gender proportionality effects on job performance and other organizational outcomes because it is important to understand the conditions in which gender proportionality affects organizational outcomes and the types of outcomes that are affected by gender proportionality.

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Weighing photo attributed to Tumisu. (CC)

Breaking the Paradox: Understanding How Teams Create Developmental Space

action-2277292_1920[We’re pleased to welcome author Karin Derksen of the Free University of Amsterdam (Vrije Universiteit). Derksen recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Breaking the Paradox: Understanding How Teams Create Developmental Space,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Derksen reveals her motive for pursuing her research and some of the challenges and findings:]

The motive that pursued our research

In the Netherland organisations are ever more working with teams, because teams have the potential to outperform individuals. However, teams struggle to make that happen. In previous research a model of developmental space for teams was developed to indeed outperform individuals as a team. Teams create developmental space in their interactions by undertaking four activities: creating future, reflecting, organizing and dialoguing. It appears that the more developmental space teams create the better their results. While creating developmental space, teams need to focus on the performance (creating future and organizing) and sensemaking (reflecting and dialoguing) orientations. These two orientations appear to be at odds with each other in other words, a paradox. How teams experience and handle this paradox and whether this is a critical success factor for them is not yet clear. Therefore, our research question is: How do teams experience and handle the developmental space paradox and what effect does that have?

Research challenges and surprising findings

There is a rapid growth of research on paradoxes. However, the commonalities across studies remain unclear, with each study presenting its own solutions to handling paradoxes. We picked up the challenge to present an overview of the literature about handling paradoxes and empirically test the findings. Unraveling the process of handling paradoxes by studying the literature led us to the idea that handling paradoxes involves a process of making choices, consciously or unconsciously, in which each choice influences the next step taken. Bringing the outcomes of different studies together, we discern the three following steps in the process of handling paradoxes: 1) recognizing the paradox; 2) responding to the paradox; 3) deploying coping strategies. In our study we present these steps in an overview and tested this empirically. Recognizing the paradox and embracing the two sides of the paradox seem to fuel team success.

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Group decision making: Are you the bully?

[We’re please to welcome author David Dryden Henningsen of Northern Illinois University. Henningsen recently published an article in the International Journal of Business Communication entitled, “Nuanced Aggression in Group Decision Making” co-authored by Mary Lynn Miller Henningsen, also of Northern Illinois University. The article is currently free to read for a limited time. From D. Henningsen:]

IJBC_v51n1_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgWhat inspired you to be interested in this topic? Reflecting on our experiences in meetings, my co-author and I both noted the presence of people who rely on bullying or whining as their preferred influence style. It occurred to us that this is likely a common experience. Everyone probably knows a whiner and/or a bully. Examining the literature on group decision-making revealed that this is an area that has been largely unaddressed by scholars. We decided to conduct this study as a preliminary test of the effects of whining and bullying in organizations. It was the insights of one of the reviewers which helped us to frame both bullying and whining as aggressive behavior, but that offers an intriguing perspective on how submissive behaviors (i.e., whining) need not be passive behaviors.

Were there findings that were surprising to you? The findings were largely consistent with our belief that whining and bullying would be detrimental in the workplace. There is an interesting sex difference that emerges with regard to effectiveness. Whereas women tend to feel effectiveness is hurt by the presence of whining, bullying, or both, men tend to feel effectiveness is really only hurt when both whining and bullying occur.

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice Although this is an exploratory study, it provides important insights into the use of aggressive tactics to gain influence. There is a lot of research on informational and normative influence. However, we suspect that non-rational forms of influence are fairly common in the workplace. We hope to further explore how those tactics may offset more rational approaches.

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Do Groups Make Better Decisions than Individuals?

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. Often,MTR_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpg 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”?

A recent study in Management Teaching Review focuses on group decision making and how groups are more likely to accept a decision as “the best” when group members conform to social norms. Authors C. Melissa Fender and Lisa T. Stickney present the data for us in their article, “When Two Heads Aren’t Better Than One: Conformity in a Group Activity.” The article is currently free to read for a limited time; click here to view the full text.
The abstract for the article is below:

Group and team class decision-making activities often focus on demonstrating that “two heads are better than one.” Typically, students solve a problem or complete an assessment individually, then in a group. Generally, the group does better and that is what the students learn. However, if that is all such an activity conveys, then a significant teachable moment has been missed. It is often the case that a group member has one or more correct answers that the group did not use, or perhaps even outscores the group. The simple activity described here provides an opportunity to discuss a number of reasons that can cause such conformity to happen, integrating several areas of human psychology and behavior, and then segue into techniques to prevent it.

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#OSEditorPicks: Temporary Organizing and Institutional Change

org[We are pleased to welcome Trish Reay, Editor-in-Chief of Organization Studies.]

Much of today’s work is accomplished within projects. In Temporary Organizing and Institutional Change, recently published in Organization Studies, Sampo Tukiainen and Nina Granqvist investigate how people engage in temporary project work that ultimately holds potential for institutional change. They analyzed how events unfolded over time within a project designed to establish the “Innovation University” that contributed to a nationwide university reform in a European country. The article shows how the process of establishing this university took many twists and turns, and highlights the way that “lock-ins” can occur and promote change.

I particularly like this article because the authors show us the real messiness of such project work, while also giving attention to the temporal aspects of institutional change. Tukiainen and Granqvist develop a theoretical model of institutional project work that shows how actors engage in interactions while scoping and specifying the change. In addition, their case study suggests that successful institutional projects build on previous change attempts; the odds of success are improved by finding ways to build on previous activities and learning, even those arising from previous failures. This is an important article for everyone who wants to gain a greater understanding of temporary organizations and how they can drive institutional change.

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You can read “Temporary Organizing and Institutional Change” from Organization Studies free for the next 30 days by clicking here. Want to stay current on all of the latest research published by Organization Studies? Visit the homepage here and sign up for email alerts!