Most decisions in the companies are taken collectively. Nowadays, if necessary, contemporary organizations form committees, special groups to carry out different tasks, inspection commissions, teams for studying problems or groups for making decisions. In addition, studies show that managers spend 40% of their time at meetings and conferences, and most of this time is spent formulating the problems, developing approaches to address them and identify ways to implement them (Rosemarynoski, 2008). It should also be noted that in some situations, groups are created at each stage of decision-making process.
The advantages of group decision making compared to individual include:
- More complete information. It is known that one head is good, but two are better. The group brings to the decision-making process varied experiences and perspectives that are impossible if the decision is made by one person (Tropman, 1996).
- Development of more options. Since the groups have at their disposal a greater volume and greater variety of information, they can bring more options to the discussion than an individual person. This advantage is especially evident when the group contains the representatives of different professions. For example, a group which includes representatives of the project, accounting, manufacturing, and marketing and personnel departments is able to provide different options, which reflect the diversity of directions of their activities. Such a multiplicity of ideas and proposals can often produce more useful options than each of the experts can imagine, acting individually (Saaty, 2008).
- It is more likely that the taken decision will be approved by other employees. It is known that most decisions failed at the last stage of their development, because people refuse to accept and fulfill. Moreover, if workers who are directly related to any decision and who will have to implement it are taking part in the process of adoption, they will make others to approve it also.
- Greater legitimacy. The process of group decision-making is coordinated with the democratic ideals of humanity. Therefore, the decisions taken by the group are often accepted better than those that are taken by one person. Due to the fact that the person who takes decision alone, has full power and does not consult with others, often gives the impression of dictator or despot (Ho, 1999).
Group decisions also have some disadvantages:
- Significant time spent. Gathering a group requires time. In addition, the interaction of people immediately after the formation of a group, tend to be ineffective. Therefore, teams almost always need more time to come to some decision, than when it is taken by one person.
- The power of minority. The group members are never completely equal in positions. They usually have different statuses in the organization, different levels of experience and knowledge of the problem, different degrees of influence on other group members and self-confidence, different abilities to express their opinions and ideas. This inequality leads to the fact that one or several of the most influential members of the group enjoyed their advantage and influence the other. As a result, the dominant minority often performs too much influence on the final decision of the group (Schmoldt, 2000).
- Pressure of the group. Working in groups, individual members are under the pressure as people tend to be “like others” (Castellan, 1993). This often leads to a phenomenon known as the group (or patterns) thinking, which means the absence or refusal of a person’s personal opinion for the majority opinion. It is a form of subordination, in which members of the group refuse from unusual or unpopular viewpoints in order to create a semblance of agreement with the majority. Group (template) thinking interferes with a critical approach, and consequently affects the quality of group decisions.
- Unclear distribution of responsibility. Team members share responsibility for the decision, but who should be responsible for the final result? (Gunnarsson, 2009). If the decision is taken individually, the answer is obvious. In group decisions no one is responsible.
So, group decision making has both, advantages and disadvantages and every organization chooses which form of decision making is better for it.
Castellan, N.J. (1993). Individual and group decision making: current issues. pp.48-51.
Gunnarsson, M. (2009). Group Decision-Making. pp. 23-25.
Ho, E.S.S.A., Lai, Y-J., Chang, S.I. (1999). An integrated group decision-making approach to quality function deployment. IIE Transactions, 31(6), 553-567.
Rosemarynoski, J. (2008). Group decision-making: best practices for enhancing the dialogue. p. 58.
Saaty, T.L., Peniwati, K. (2008). Group Decision Making: Drawing Out and Reconciling Differences. Pp. 256-258.
Schmoldt, L., Peterson, L. (2000). Analytical Group Decision Making in Natural Resources: Methodology and Application. Forest Science, 46(1), 62-75.
Tropman, J.E. (1996). Effective meetings: improving group decision making. p. 39.