Group decision making. Problems, models and recommendations

Academic Paper, 2016
13 Pages, Grade: 80%


I. Table of contents

I. Table of contents

II. Executive summary

III. Introduction

IV. Problems with group decision making. V. Models of group decision making

VI. Recommendations for effective group decision making

VII. Conclusion

VIII. Presentation

IX. References

II. Executive summary

This paper will highlight the main issues associated with the group decision making. Firstly, I will explain what is the group decision making in general and adduce the theories associated with this phenomenon. Furthermore, I will emphasize the problems of decision making such as group polarization, groupthink, brainstorming or the escalation of commitment. Moreover, I will stress the models such as democratic, laissez faire and autocratic. In addition, I will recommend some techniques in order to improve the group cooperation in making decisions. Finally, I will add the presentation as a summary of this report.

III. Introduction

Group decision making is an activity of making a choice from the variety of options by the defined number of individuals. According to Henry Mintzberg (2011), the decision making is one of the most significant managerial activities and Herbert Simon (2013) named this phenomenon as a core of the management. The importance of commitment, support for the organization’s goals and team’s competence lead to increase effectiveness of the decisions. The descriptive model (Huczynski 2013) highlights that the aspects such as personality of the individuals, group relationships, strategy, external environment and information availability influence decision making. The aim of this model is to define, which factor has the greatest impact and how they interrelate to a choice being made. Whereas, the behavioural theory (Huczynski 2013) emphasises that the decisions are crucial aspect of the individuals’ behaviour. The group can maximize decision making through gathering, comparing and evaluating variety of alternatives and among which choose the best solution. However, some employees make decision on the basis of the first solution, which is satisfactory and after they end their research. The method, which they utilize, it’s called satisficing strategy.

According to Huczynski (2013), the certainty, risk or uncertainty can be also associated with the decision making. The certainty is the phase between the alternative and its outcome. The employees are hundred percent sure that all outcomes will be positive for the company and they have to choose the most beneficial one. However, the majority of the decisions have some sort of risk, thus it’s essential to anticipate the likelihood of its occurrence on the basis of experience and knowledge of the members group. Decisions made under uncertainty are the most difficult and are mostly associated with new, unknown factors such as new technology, new market or new target customers.

IV. Problems with group decision‐making:

1. Group polarization occurs, when the potential issue is intensified by the the majority of a group in a result of the discussion, what leads to more risky and extreme decisions. According to James Stoner (Roux 2012), the group polarization is associated with the risky shift phenomenon. The groups have tendency to make riskier decisions than the individuals, what cause the ineffective group performance. However, in a result of the discussion, the groups can also initiate more risk averse decisions than the individual. This activity is called the caution shift.
2. Groupthink is a phenomenon, in which the individuals strive for unanimity and override their motivation at the same time. The members don’t challenge the group’s thinking, because they are afraid to disrupt the consensus. The group lose opportunity to make the best decisions, because the minimum number of risks and alternatives are taken into consideration. The cohesiveness generally associated with positive effects can lead also to the negative consequences. According to Victoria Medvec (Berger 2014) , before the discussion starts, the individuals should write down their views on a topic and rate them on one to ten scale in order to avoid being influenced by others later on.
3. Brainstorming is a technique, which aims to improve the group decision making. The assumption is that people who are working together are able to find more effective and creative solution than the individuals, who work separately. The purpose of this concept is to find as many innovative solutions as possible and distinguish the best one. There are some rules, which have to be followed by the group to make the process more efficient. First of all, the group has to avoid criticising other members’ ideas, however they can comment and give feedback. The individuals should share all alternatives even the bizzarest ones with the group. Moreover, the members can create your ideas based on the others views (Robbins 2014).
4. The escalation of commitment is the concept, in which the individuals show their commitment to the actions, which had negative outcomes in the past. This tendency involves waiting situations and is visible in economic investments or gambling. The risky shift findings emphasize that this phenomenon is visible more often in the groups, because people can convince the opponents to their believes, have support from the others and the responsibility of the decision is shared between the other members (Robbins 2014).

V. Models of group decision making:

1. Laissez faire is the style, in which the involvement of the leaders is barely visible. The participants of the group have a full control and freedom in decision making. However, it’s important that the individuals have specific knowledge, skills and abilities in order to resolve the problems on their own or with the little guidance of the leader (Saaty 2012). This method will be beneficial for the group consisted of people who are highly motivated and passionate about the work. However, this approach won’t be the best solution for those, who are not good in managing or meeting the deadlines. Moreover, the leader can be less concern about the project, what causes the lack of cohesiveness with the group.
2. The democratic decision making style refers to fairness and equality. The power and authority are shared between manager and employee, what causes that everyone can be involved in decision making. There is visible a majority rule, in which every individual through voting has an opportunity to choose one option among others. The individual, who collected more than 50% votes, win (Saaty 2102). The benefits of democratic decision making are equal participation, fairly fast decision, higher level of productivity and utilization of capabilities. Lack of group or personal responsibility for decision and delays in decisions making are drawbacks of this approach.
3. In autocratic style, the leader has full control on processes and is responsible for the final decision. The individuals don’t have an influence on the final decision and also don’t take responsibility for the outcome (Saaty 2012). On the one hand, autocratic style is the best approach in an emergency, when an immediate decision is needed. There is no need to meet different motivational needs of the participants. The method is beneficial for inexperienced and unmotivated workers and the leader is responsible for consequence of the decision. On the other hand, this method is negative for highly skilled and motivated employees. They can’t be engaged and involved in processes associated with the decision making, thus this approach reduces creativity and productivity. When the employee is affected by unsatisfactory outcome of the decision, the morale and effort can suffer.

VI. Recommendations for effective group decision making

1) Nominal Group Technique (NGT) is a decision making method, which enable every member of the group contribute the ideas to discussion. This technique is particularly useful especially in situations, where the topic is controversial and its expected conflict; the individuals work better in silence; some members are more vocal than others. Nominal Group Technique follows four steps. Firstly, each member write down the ideas associated with the subject. Secondly, all the individuals state their ideas aloud in turn. After all the ideas have been discussed, the best solution has been distinguished.
2) Delphi technique is the concept, which refers to forecast the degree of certainty or the likelihood of outcome of the specific activities in the future. The members of the group write down their assumptions and give them to a facilitator. On the basis of collected data, he prepares a summary report. The participants discuss and review the report individually. Then they give updated forecast to the expert, who prepares the second report. The activity continues until the group achieve a census. The experts have access to full record of the forecast made by other individuals, but they do not know who each forecast is made by. The anonymity enables the members of the group to express freely their opinions. This method allows also avoiding the errors by revising the reports.
3) Consensus is the activity, which aims to achieve an agreement between all participants of
the group. The ideas and opinions of each member have been heard and taken into consideration. During the discussion, everyone come to the conclusion, how the problem can be solved in the most effective way. The objective of consensus is to make the most efficient use of individual’s best ideas.


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Group decision making. Problems, models and recommendations
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Katarzyna Szydlowska (Author), 2016, Group decision making. Problems, models and recommendations, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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