Working in groups



Week 1


Course overview, introduction to groups 


Basis for team success and failure

We’ll introduce fundamental ideas about groups, what they are good for and how they operate.  We’ll consider criteria for group success and some of the factors that influence whether groups will be successful. We'll discuss in class two contrasting cases of crew teams -- the unsuccessful Army Crew Team and the successful women's crew team at Cornell. 

Note class will start with a brief presentation on the extra-credit, research participation pool.

    1. Why does the Varsity team lose to the JV team:
    2. What should Coach P. have done differently earlier in the season to resolve this problem.  Exactly when should he have intervened differently?
    3. At the end of the case, what action should Coach P. take on Tuesday?  What is your rationale for this recommendation? How should he implement this action? Be specific.
  1. What are the relationships among coordination, espirit d'corp and performance in the Army and Cornell crews?

Week 2


Team composition & process loss;
Introduction to the Wikipedia assignment 

We'll consider the way that characteristics of team members and the ways they work together contribute to their success.

We'll also introduce Wikipedia and what you will need to do over the course of the semester to complete your Wikipedia editing assignment.

  • Skim the Wikipedia assignment.  We'll discuss this more in class.
  • Wiki Education Foundation: WP training for studentsConcentrate for now on following sections: Welcome, The Core, Editing and General Topic Advice.  You can return to the sections on Advanced Topics later and the section on Medical Topics, if this is relevant to your article.
Start WP assignmen: Create a Wikipedia account & user page, and then enroll in Communication in Groups & Organizations on the Wikipedia educational portal.  Then start the training.

Process losses: Distinguishing coordination vs motivation

  • Karau, S. & Williams, K. (1993).  Social loafing: A meta-analytic review and theoretical integration. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,65(4), 681-706.
  • Kittur, A., & Kraut, R. E. (2008). Harnessing the Wisdom of Crowds in Wikipedia: Quality Through Coordination CSCW'08: Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (pp. 37-46). New York: ACM Press


Week 3


No class: Rosh Hashanah


Leadership & Managerial Communication

  • Mintzberg, Henry (1990, March/April). The manager's job: Folklore and fact. Harvard Business Review, 68(2),163-176. If the Harvard link doesn't allow you to purchase the article, use this link.
  • Perlow, L. A. (1999). The time famine: Toward a sociology of work time. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44(1), 57-81
  • Optional: Zaleznik, A. (1977). Managers and leaders: Are they different. Harvard Business Review, 55(May–June), 67-78. If the Harvard link doesn't allow you to purchase the article, use this link.

Compare a good and bad team (Due 9/17 @ 10PM)


Week 4


Leadership & Organizational Culture

Leaders often try and sometime succeed in instilling a distinct culture for the groups & organizations they lead.  In today's class we'll get a sense of what organizational culture is and contrast two distinct, leader-driven organizational cultures.


List 3-5 course-relevant, WP articles needing work  to course forum you would be interested in working on to the course forum. Include a brief explanation of what is needed. 

 Add an interesting finding or fact  and its citation to one of these articles.  Due 9/27


Leadership as behavior


Week 5


Communication & group performance

  • Ginnett, R. (1990). Airline cockpit crew. In R. Hackman (Ed.). Groups that work (and those that don't). pp. 427-448. San Francisco. Jossey-Bass, 1990.
  • Leonard, M., Graham, S., & Bonacum, D. (2004). The human factor: The critical importance of effective teamwork and communication in providing safe care. Quality and Safety in Health Care, 13(suppl 1), 85-90.

Choose partner and Wikipedia article to write/improve.  You can use this discussion board to find a partner. Once you have settled on an article and partner, list your decisions on this spreadsheet. Due 10/4

Schedule meeting with the instructor about your article.

Distributed groups 



Introduction to distributed groups

Distributed groups are increasingly common. Yet, there is a lot of evidence that distributed groups are less efficient than collocated groups, experience more conflict and member dissatisfaction.  We’ll review some of this evidence and then over the next several weeks consider factors that help groups be successful and the way that geographic dispersion makes these processes harder.


Week 6


Successful distributed groups

Create a detailed outline reflecting your proposed changes, and post these for community feedback, along with a brief description of your plans, on the article’s talk page. Start compiling a bibliography of reliable sources relevant to your article and post this to the article talk page. Make sure to check back on the talk page often and engage with any responses. You can change the outline and continue to add sources later, but the first draft of the outline and sources is due 10/11

Create a copy your existing article in one teammate's sandbox and start adding to and improving it in the sandbox.  



The role of communication media (I)

A cooperative model of human communication proposes that speakers take into account what they expect their listeners to understand and update that information as they are speaking. Listeners have an obligation to indicate their state of knowledge and to cooperate with the speaker to produce an utterance.

  • Clark, Herbert H. & Brennan, Susan E. (1991). Grounding in communication. In L. B. Resnick, R. M. Levine, & S. D. Teasley (Eds.). Perspectives on socially shared cognition. (pp. 127-149). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Chapanis, A. (1975). Interactive human communication. Scientific American, 232, 36-42
  • Optional: Krauss, R. M. & Fussell, S. R. (1990). Mutual knowledge and communicative effectiveness. In J. Galegher & R. E. Kraut, et al. (Eds.), Intellectual teamwork: Social and technological foundations of cooperative work (pp. 111-145). Hillsdale, NJ, England: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Week 7


The role of communication media (II)

Continue to develop your Wikipedia article,

Short technology essay (part 1) Analyze two examples from Gergle et al, to determine if you think that grounding and awareness are indeed different (group assignment).  Do not do this assignment through an extreme division of labor, in which different students select, analyze and write up each example. The selection, analysis of the video clips and planning of the essay should be all be done jointly, although you can divide the work for writing.    This is assignment will be done with a partner, but you cannot meet face-to-face with your partner while doing the work. Due midnight, Wed, 10/14.



Communication, familiarity and coordination

Having common beliefs and views of a situation should allow groups to communicate more efficiently. How does this work?

  • Argote, L. (1999). Organizational learning. Boston: Kluwer. Chapter 1. Learning Curves. (Read only pages 1-13, up to section 1.4).
  • Argote, L. (1999). Organizational learning. Boston: Kluwer. Chapter 3. Organizational Memory. pp. 67-98.

Short technology reflection essay (part 2). The second component of the technology assignment is an individually written assessment of your team’s group process and outcomes for part 1 of the assignment. This assessment requires reflection on your group’s interactions and provides the opportunity to apply course concepts and learn from the team's project experience. Due midnight, Sun 10/18


Identity, Diversity & Conflict


Week 8


Group identity and goal conflict

Continue to develop your Wikipedia article,

Choose two of your classmates' articles to review & paste the URLs of your selections into the appropriate columns in  his spreadsheet. Select articles so that every article has four reviewers signed up. Note that you don't have to start your review yet, but selection is due: 10/25.



Diversity as a source of conflict

This class examines some of the problems associated with diversity in groups.

  • Van Knippenberg, D., & Schippers, M. C. (2007). Work group diversity. Annu. Rev. Psychol., 58, 515-541. 
  • Polzer, J, Varga, I, & Elfenbein (2003). Henry Tam and the MGI Team. Harvard Business School Case 9-404-068.
  • Optional: New York Times (2011, Jan 29). Google finds it hard to reinvent philanthropy.

    Note: Class will focus on discussing the Henry Tam case. Here are some points to think about when reading the case. We will cover these issues in class:

    1. What is your evaluation of the MGI team's process? What were the root causes of the team's problems?
    2. What are the strengths of the MGI team? That is, how would you have evaluated it "on paper," before its first meeting?
    3. Were the differences among team members a liability or an asset?
    4. What could Henry or Igor done earlier to avoid the team's problems?
    5. At the end of the case, after process problems had developed, what could the team have done to increase its effectiveness? 

Week 9


Diversity as a source of innovation

  • Ideo ( is arguably the best product design firm in the United States. We'll be examining the innovation process that Ideo uses, through the Hargadon & Sutton article below and through an ABC News video, The Deep Dive. Come to class familiar with Ideo and its products, and be prepared to describe how it institutionalizes creativity. Here is another video providing more about Ideo's culture.
  • Hargadon, A. & Sutton, R. Technology brokering and innovation in a product development firm. (1997). Administrative Science Quarterly, 42, 716-749.
  • Optional: Schweiger, D. M., Sandberg, W. R., & Ragan, J. W. (1986). Group approaches for improving strategic decision making: A comparative analysis of dialectical inquiry, devil's advocacy, and consensus. Academy of management Journal, 29(1), 51-71.

Many analysts stress the value of having demographically and intellectually diverse work groups, for reasons of fairness and performance. What are the benefits and costs of diversity of work groups? Can we identify techniques for getting value from diversity, while minimizing some of its known costs? This class focuses on organizing to gain benefits from diversity.

Move your draft WP article from your sandbox to the main WP article area.  You should do this in stages over several days or in separate edits (saves) within a single edit session, so that if other WP editors disagree with some of your changes and decide to remove your changes, they change back only a portion of what you've worked on, rather than your whole draft.  Due: Nov 1. 



Introduction to Negotiation


Week 10


 Catch-up class to discussion the essentials of negotiation (no new readings)

Peer review the two articles you signed up for in the spreadsheet & provide reviews.  Each student will review two articles and each article should get four reviews.  Due 11/8

Continue to improve your article. 




Managing conflict in groups

We'll be spending the class discuss the Barker case, Disciplining a Teammate. In reading the case consider the following questions:

  1. What did the self-managed team do to prevent conflicts from arising?  
  2. What did they do correctly in handling Sharon's unpredictablility and pattern of lateness and abscence?
  3. What did they do poorly?
  4. What else could they have done?
  5. Could principles of negotiation be used to handle the conflict in this case?


Attitudes & persuasion

Week 11


Introduction to attitudes

  • Aronson, E., Wilson, T., & Akert, T. (2010). Social Psychology. Chapter 7: Attitudes and attitude change. Pearson. Upper Saddle River, NJ.
  • Cialdini, Robert B. (2008) Influence: Science and practice (5rd Edition). Chapter 4: Social Proof. pp. 97-140.
  • Optional (for deeper background): Petty, R. E., & Brinol, P. (2010). Attitude change. Advanced social psychology: The state of the science, 217-259.


Self-reflection on a group conflict due. Due mid-night, Monday Nov 10th




Monitor and respond to comments from peer reviewers and comments and changes from the WP community and make changes as needed.  If you disagree with a suggestion, use the article talk pages to politely discuss and come to a consensus on your edit. Responses to peer reviews due 11/15


Persuasion and liking

  • Zajonc, R. B. (2001). Mere exposure: A gateway to the subliminal. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10(6), 224-226.

Week 12


Persuasion and social pressure

  • Cialdini, Robert B. (2008) Influence: Science and practice (5rd Edition). Talman Co. Chapter 6: Authority. pp.174-197.
  • Walton, G. M. (2014). The New Science of Wise Psychological Interventions. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(1), 73-82.

Return to the article you peer reviewed, examine your classmate's changes & provide further suggestions as needed.  In reading through the two articles, copy edit. Due: 11/22.

Continue to monitor & improve your WP article as needed. Do additional research and writing to further improve to your article, based on your classmates' suggestions and any additional areas for improvement you can identify.


Individual self-presentation


Week 13



 Organizational self-presentation
  • Van Maanen, J. (1991). The smile factory: Work at Disneyland. In P. Frost, L. Moore, M. Luis, C. Lundberg, & J. Martin (Eds.), Reframing organizational culture (pp. 58-76). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. (also available here.)
  • Sutton, R. I. (1991). Maintaining norms about expressed emotions: A case of bill collectors. Administrative Science Quarterly36, 245-268 

Drop: Changing attitudes for live and death


 Finish up your WP article. Add final touches as needed.  Due 11/29.


Thanksgiving break


Social Networks



Social networks/Communication boundaries


Week 14


People are important sources for information and other resources. Interpersonal networking is important to gain these resources, but getting to new pockets of information is what is crucial.
  • Allen, T. (1977). Managing the flow of technology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. pp. 141-181. The technological gatekeepers.
  • Raider, H., & Krackhardt, D. (2001). Intraorganizational Networks. In J. A. C. Baum (Ed.), Companion to Organizations (pp. 58-74.). Oxford, UK.: Blackwell.
  • Optional: Cross, R & Cummings, J. (2004) Tie and network correlates of individual performance in knowledge intensive work Academy of Management Journal, 47(6), 928.

Social networks systems and outcomes



  •  Gilbert, E., & Karahalios, K. (2009). Predicting tie strength with social media CHI'09: Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems (pp. 211-220). New York, NY: ACM Press.
  • Dunbar, R. (2010).  Do we need (150) friends
  • Burke, M., & Kraut, R. E. (2012). Using Facebook after losing a job: Differential benefits of strong and weak ties CSCW'13: ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work. NY: ACM Press.
Turn in WP self-reflection essay and final article you want graded. You only need to write a single essay for your team. (Due Thur, Dec 10th, midnight)
  • Finish up discussion of online social networks. (No new reading)
  • Introduction to social network analysis tools


 1210  Course review: Note, this is a time for students to ask questions and get clarification. It will not be a lecture of course highlights.  
12/18 @ 1PM

Final exam -- Dec 18 2015, 1:00 PM  4:00 PM. BH A53