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Critique of the Gersick’s Article

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Updated: Jul 6th, 2020


Gersick’s 1988 study entitled Time and transition in work teams toward a new model of group development can be pin-pointedly singled out as one of the greatest in-depth researches ever conducted with regards to the intrinsic determinants of the effectiveness of any given group.

Preliminarily, the research was conducted to bridge the knowledge gap left by most group development researchers in talking about the unpredictable nature of group operations. Prior to her research, the existing modules information depicted that group operations were always predictable which—as we later find out from Gersick’s research—is not normally the case (Gersick, 1988, p.9-10).

More importantly, her research cites previously conducted authoritative studies, documents the current happenings and foreshadows what can be done in the future by people coming after her. This greatly serves the purpose of continuity—which is something that is missing in many studies.

Basically, her research involves the selection of eight groups, data collection, data analysis, then from the results; she forms her “theory of punctuated equilibrium.”

Critique of Gersick’s research

Before beginning to offer my comprehensive viewpoint on Gersick’s work, it is crucial to note that my views are based on a thorough analysis of Gersick’s, as well as many other related studies, which endows me with the potential to give a professional assessment. My analysis is going to be based on the questions below which act as a guidelines for summarizing my views.

How would you characterize Gersick’s approach; phenomenological, ethnographic, or grounded theory? Why?

The approach used by Gersick is undoubtedly the Grounded theory approach. Right from the onset of her documented work, we get to know of her data collection; followed by her painstaking analysis of transcripts that contain details from the groups of people she analyzed (Sniezek, 2007).

From here, she decides to formulate a tentative method for “firmer grounding” of her results since most findings were from similar settings thus making it relatively difficult to get note some tiny priceless differences. After establishing the tentative method, she again makes an analysis and circumspectly views the results against her hypothesis and results of the data that she first collected.

It is from this data that she gets to formulate her theory. This approach is typically the Grounded theory which Davidson (2002) defines as “A research method in which the theory is developed from the data, rather than the other way around.”

How would you characterize her data collection process; direct observation, unstructured interviewing, or case study? Why?

Gersick’s data collection is a professional blend or high-breed of the all the above methods. It is a direct observation since his documented research says that she had to attend all the group meetings to get a personal observation of the happenings (Gersick, 1988, p.11-12).

As for being a case study, she selected particular groups of people for her studies (p.11). Finally, it is unstructured interviewing since she says that “I chose an inductive, qualitative approach to increase the chances of discovering the unanticipated and to permit analysis of change and development in the specific content of each team’s work” which is simply unstructured (Gersick, 1998, p.12).

Do Gersick’s findings have face validity? How do they compare with your own experiences in various work groups? Were you surprised by her findings?

Most of Gersick’s work is verifiable thus making it quite valid. The use of valid groups of people from different organizations (Gersick, 1988, p.12-14), group members being professional i.e. university graduates (p.13) and having excerpts during final presentation, (p.16-18) all attribute to the verifiability and thus validity of the findings.

However, the findings were slightly different to my experience in work groups. This greatly surprised me since I never got to witness or read about such an in-depth analysis of occurrences in work group. Additionally, there are many new important dimensions that are highlighted in Gersick’s work (especially towards the concluding pages of her work) which is part of the reason I am awed with her study.

In your opinion, are her findings widely Generalizable? Why?

Yes, although with the exception of some few specific parts. To the weighty side of yes, concepts like most people striving to finish work to in order to beat deadlines rather than ensure group progress or completion of a specific group development stage (Gersick, 1988, p.11-15). On the opposing end, her research should be conducted on a wide range of groups since her studies were conducted on rather similar groups thus might not be aptly representative.

What implications do her findings have for practice? If you really believe that Gersick discovered what she says she discovered, how will that change the way you approach the group task, the next time you’re put in charge of a work group?

From her findings, it is important that a proper plan be laid down for the first group meetings, since what happens there greatly determines the group’s course (Gersick, 1988, p.11-15). Additionally, the “mid point” in group meetings should be timely calculated since this duration offers a good chance of renewing communication flow and ensuring objectivity of group discussions (p.38).

Based on what I have learned from Gersick’s research, if I was put in charge of a group meeting, I would offer good leadership for the timely completion of a task by: adequately planning for group meetings, ensuring that the first group meeting goes according to plan and finally, making sure that the environment for group meetings is devoid of distractions that might hinder completion of the task in time.

How well does the “theory of punctuated equilibrium” fit Gersick’s findings?

Since theories are mostly based on abstract concepts, I would say that Gersick’s findings are largely fitting to her proposed theory. This is because theory fittingly interlinks with the results to fill the gap left by those who ascribe to the traditional theory (Gersick, 1988, p.16).

Did adding that theory to the paper help you understand her findings? In your opinion, did adding that theory to the paper improve it in any way? If so, how?

In as much as Gersick’s representation of her theory on paper is commendable; the representations did not help me much in understanding her findings. It is also for this reason that, in my opinion, adding the theory paper did not improve it any way.


In spite of not greatly improving the theory, the documented findings serve the important role of being able to be used by others for future reference. And in a nutshell, Gersick’s theory is greatly informative not just for researchers but also students who are bound to find it extremely useful.


Davidson, A. L. (2002). Grounded Theory. Essortment.

Gersick, C. J.G. (1988). Time and transition in work teams toward a new model of group development. Academy of Management journal, 31(1), 9-41.

Sniezek, S. M. (2007). How groups work: a study of group dynamics and its possible negative implications. Brynmawr. Retrieved from

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