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Destructive and Constructive Power of Groups Essay

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Updated: Apr 8th, 2020

Introduction

A group refers to an entity that is closed, associative, and has elements that define its identity (Franz, 2012). A group’s identity element is defined by the common goals and interests shared by members. People use groups to meet needs such as socializing, working, and getting moral support. Individuals in a group often have different personalities, viewpoints, and experiences that lead to conflicts due to misunderstandings.

Conflicts are one of the common characteristic features of a group. Conflicts refer to differences in opinion between members of a group. Conflicts also arise between groups, especially if they have shared interests (Franz, 2012). Conflicts usually arise when members in a group have incompatible feelings and viewpoints about something.

Conflicts in a group and between groups develop out of various factors relating to decision-making, activities carried out, and levels of responsibility. Experts argue that strategies that groups apply in managing change influence a lot on their ability to manage conflicts. Studies have shown that people in a group often lack an open mind regarding the introduction of change. Group conflicts are both advantageous and disadvantageous (Franz, 2012).

Various strategies apply to managing group conflicts. These strategies aim to reduce the intensity of effects that conflicts have on individuals and the group as a whole. Experts on group dynamics argue that management of group conflicts has five stages, namely competitive, collaborative, compromising, accommodating, and avoiding levels.

Groups can construct or destroy an individual depending on the conflict management strategies applied. It is very hard for people to agree all the time. Therefore, there is a need to ensure that groups have effective strategies for managing conflict (Franz, 2012). Effective management of group conflicts entails identifying and understanding all members and their needs.

Discussion

Group conflicts develop when members oppose each other because of a fact or a perception that emerges out of other people’s views, interests, demands, or actions. Studies have shown that conflicts are either destructive or constructive depending on the way they are resolved. Destructive conflicts refer to group differences that have negative effects (Franz, 2012).

They result from poorly created and defined goals that lead to costs exceeding benefits. Destructive conflicts often destabilize a group and its members. Individuals often suffer negative conditions such as depression, low self-esteem, and hostility. Individuals often lose a sense of direction concerning the interests and goals that drove them into joining the group (Franz, 2012).

On the other hand, constructive conflicts refer to group differences that produce positive results. Groups benefit from constructive conflicts because benefits exceed costs incurred. Managing constructive conflicts involve a process that is as equally important as its results. Some of the notable benefits of constructive conflicts include increased belief among group members and spirited cohesiveness. Constructive conflicts help individuals in identifying their strengths, weaknesses, and the best way to achieve success (Franz, 2012).

Sources of group conflicts

Conflicts are very common in groups. Studies have established that several factors cause group conflicts. Both internal and external forces influence these factors. One of the main sources of group conflicts is change (Franz, 2012). Change in a group often happens due to activities such as acquisition, introduction of new rules, change of leadership, new activities, structural modifications, and reorientation of objectives, among others.

Preventing change in a group setting is hard because the dynamics of operations keep changing. Group leaders should develop effective strategies for managing change to prevent conflicts from arising. Group members should be notified in time whenever there are changes to be made to avoid misunderstandings (Franz, 2012).

The second source of group conflicts is interpersonal differences. People spend much of their time working or doing other activities that involve engaging with others. Certain aspects of human interaction, such as communication skills, language barrier, attitude, and personality, lead to, conflicts if they are used inappropriately. Interpersonal differences also occur due to factors such as discrimination, gossiping, bullying, and sexual harassment within a group (Franz, 2012).

It is important for group leaders to ensure that they apply effective strategies in identifying elements that cause interpersonal differences. The third source of group conflicts is external forces. Studies have established that forces in the external environment of a group can influence its stability negatively.

External forces lead to group conflicts when individuals confide in someone who does not share the same values and interests as their colleagues. Sharing group information with an outsider destabilizes a group (Franz, 2012). It is important for individuals to ensure that they do not have any sort of dealings with external entities regarding their internal affairs.

Factors that escalate group conflict

Research has established that numerous factors increase the intensity of group conflicts. Some of the factors that heighten the level of group conflicts include incompatible goals, lack of compromise on specific beliefs, hostility, poor decision-making, poor leadership, perceptions, and authority (Franz, 2012). People are likely to have misunderstandings when they do not have a common goal. Incompatible goals lead to competition between group members. This often results in the development of rivalry.

Studies have established that poor understanding of essential elements that define a group’s identity result in disunity. This increases the intensity of conflicts between group members. Studies have established that lack the f an inclusive decision-making process leads to prolonged conflicts. The reason for this is that certain individuals always tend to feel left out (Franz, 2012). Poor leadership and abuse of authority also can heighten the intensity of group conflicts.

On the other hand, these factors also apply to preventing and reducing group conflicts. Group leaders have a responsibility to ensure that there is effective communication, a shared vision, an inclusive decision-making process, and a better understanding of the elements that define their identity.

Studies have shown that involving group members in crucial processes such as decision-making help to minimize conflicts. This happens because everyone has an opportunity to express him or herself. Effective communication also helps to prevent misunderstanding between individuals and groups (Franz, 2012). There is little chance of conflicts occurring when people have an opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts.

Conflict resolution in groups

Several strategies apply in resolving group conflicts. First, there is cooperation, which entails bringing the conflicting parties together and allowing them to talk to each other. This enables them to understand their varied viewpoints for the sake of reaching a solution (Franz, 2012). Second, group leaders use an authoritative command towards individuals who violate group rules. Third, identifying and focusing on the causes of group conflicts helps in getting long-lasting solutions.

It is important to identify and eliminate the real source of group conflicts. The reason for this is that it reduces the possibility of a similar occurrence happening in the future. Conflict and conflict resolution plays a crucial role in influencing group development, promoting cohesion, improving the productivity of members, and increasing the effectiveness of group functions (Franz, 2012).

Both constructive and destructive conflicts have an impact on individuals because they enable them to discover their strengths and weaknesses. Groups help to inject positive energy in their members, especially when they are used for therapeutic purposes. Studies show that group therapy has more benefits to patients compared to individual therapy. Individuals involved in group therapy have a better chance of being effective change agents in society.

The reason for this is that they can learn from the experiences of other people. Groups play a crucial role in providing individuals with moral support, especially when it comes to dealing with life challenges and managing change (Franz, 2012). Individuals receive numerous benefits from group conflicts because they enlighten them and broaden their thinking capacity.

Conclusion

Groups play a crucial role in influencing change. People join groups to meet various needs that include socializing, working, and receiving moral support. Studies have established that groups are good options for therapists, as they help patients to restore their self-believe and confidence because of moral support. Conflicts are one of the characteristic elements of a group.

Studies have shown that conflicts can be either constructive or destructive. Effective management and resolution of group conflicts play a crucial role in influencing success and development of individuals.

Reference

Franz, T. M. (2012). Group Dynamics and Team Interventions: Understanding and Improving Team Performance. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

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