The effects inter-group interaction at the manager level in the work environment of employees
Middle Managers plays an important role in organizations, as they are the bridge of communication between CEO´S and employees. Therefore the communication and interaction that exist not only between their on subordinates but also between intergroup interactions at the manager level becomes an important topic to research, due to the fact, that it not only shapes employee´s behavior but also organizational performance. The following study examines the relationship and connection that Manager´s perception of intergroup interaction at the manager level, characterized by engagement, conflict or avoidance, has on employee´s perception of their organizational climate. In order to examine this connection, the study establish 3 main hypothesis, 1) Manager´s intergroup interaction characterized by Engagement has a positive effect on employees organizational climate, Hypothesis 2 and 3 establish that Manager´s intergroup interaction characterized by Conflict or avoidance has negative effect on employee´s perception of their organizational climate. The data from the study was collected from a sample size of 80 managers and 256 employees in a total of 16 Mexican companies; and analyzed in Minitab statistical software, a linear regression analysis was made to show the relationship. The results of the study shows that Engagement has a positive effect on employee´s organizational climate and Conflict has a slightly negative effect on employee´s organizational climate, for avoidance, the study showed that it is irrelevant to explain organizational climate. As a conclusion, the study has a significant importance not only inter-group dynamic research but also for organizational practices, as it shows the connection between the two variables; therefore, organizations can improve organizational performance and employee´s organizational climate by improving managers interaction.
KEY WORDS: Inter-group interaction, group dynamics, organizational climate, middle management level.
Table of contents
1.1 Statement of the problem
In the last 50 decades there has been, inside of organizations, an increasing shift from individual work style to work units, and each of this units develop themselves in an interdependent system in which a single action of one unit impact the others. Thus it is not a surprise, that the study of people interacting in groups and the effects that this has not only in their own members relationship but also to other groups is one of the topics that interest researchers. And although there has been a lot of studies that aims to analyze the study of groups most of them focuses in the Sociology field and not the effects that they have into organizations.. In the same way the majority of studies made till now in the organizational context, focuses on the effects and dynamics that exist inside the group (intra group interaction) and not on the relationship and effects that exist between groups (inter-group interaction). The main issue on the lack of research focusing inter-group relation is that organizations develop themselves in an interconnected system in which every agent actions (individual or group) has the power to affect their work environment and the overall performance of the organization, especially if this actions comes from a higher authority level of the organization. Therefore the following dissertation aims to study how the perception of the inter-group interaction at the manager level affects employee´s work environment (organizational climate)?
The actual working context and the interdependency that exist in organization is making of Inter-group interaction and important topic to research. Several studies have shown that the interaction in groups and between groups shapes the environment where they develop, and this at the same time shapes the perception and behavior of the members. Although the dynamics of all social and formal groups in organizations, from the lowest to the highest level, affects the environment and performance of the group members, the agents or members who belong to the highest level, have an authority role or are consider leaders have a major and direct impact or influence in other members as well as in the work environment of the organization. Allport (1962), Barnard (1998) and Weick (1979) (quoted in Tjosvold, 1989) state that organizations depend on the relationship and interaction among each individual and group of people in the organization. Thus, in order for an organization to accomplish its goals it needs to achieve synergy between each agent in all levels of the organization (CEO´S, middle management, front line management and employees); this can only be accomplished with effective communication and coordination of effort between them. Furthermore, strategies, policies, working plans and course of actions are develop in the highest levels of the organization between CEO´s, Middle Managers and Front Line managers therefore the communication and interaction between them becomes of paramount importance to ensure that the plans and strategies be well executed by the entire organization. In the same way, Nauman and Bennet (2000) argues that group leaders are the primary architects of group member climate perceptions (as cited in Choi, Price, and Vinokur, 2003); So the interaction between CEO´s and Managers not only will affect their behavior and with this the communication between the different levels and department of the organization but also the environment in which they and their subordinates work, affecting with this employee´s perception and behaviors, as well as the overall performance of the organization.
Therefore, this study will contribute to understand that another important factor that affects employee´s work environment is the interaction between the leaders. By analyzing the connection and effects on inter-group manager’s interaction in employee’s perception of their work environment, strategies and programs can be applied to improve managers interaction and with this employees work environment and performance.
- Theoretical Background
Most of the theories and studies can be used to analyze intergroup interaction in the organizational context. For example; Realistic Group Conflict Theory (RCT), state that intergroup hostility increase with the perception of scare resources and the feeling of competing for the same goal between groups. Some examples of these theories in an organizational context is the negotiation of annual budget between department, or a competition to obtain certain reward or bonus by achieving an specific goal between departments. The Social Categorization Social which state that people place individuals into certain groups based on a classification of characteristics. Social categorization theory gives an explanation of why people tent to discriminate and prejudice others, a pattern that can be related in cross-cultural teams On the other hand Identity Theories, establish that people sense of who they are will depend on the group membership, therefore they will see themselves or their action as part of the group and their pride and self-steam will depend on the group value and perception of others. The embedded Intergroup Relations Theory (EIRT) which states that individuals in organization will join together based on biological factors and also based in shared experiences and roles. For last social identity/ Social dilemma perspective states that intergroup dynamics will be determine by the nature of their interaction whether it be cooperation and competition. In sum, all this theories propose that Intergroup and intragroup dynamics will be determined by three main aspects 1) group and individual interest, which will determine the nature of the interaction; cooperation (engagement) or competition (conflict). 2) Perceptions of the self-concept of member in their own group and the conception of other groups which will determine the attraction that the members and the group itself will have with members outside the group. And last but not least 3) biological and organizational characteristic attributed to individuals, which explain that the behavior and perception of members will be determined by biological factors and its own experience. Although there are some factors that the organization can not totally control, in order to improve groups interaction, such as biological characteristics and self-concepts of the members, the organization can influence the group and each member interest in order for them to be aligned with the organization and to improve interaction and performance. In the other hand, according, to Lewin´s (1951) interaction theory, the environment of the group determine the behavior of each member; explained by the formula B=f(P,E) where (B) states for the behavior of the member as a result or function (f) of the his interaction of its personal characteristics (P) with the environment (E) (Donelson 2004). Therefore, if there is a negative environment in an organization, the interaction between each member will be negative as well, and the same conclusion will be in the analysis of their performance (as it has been discovered that environment is one of the main influencers of employees performance). In an organizational level, climate can be described as a set of properties of the work environment, perceived directly or indirectly by the employees, and it is assumed to be a major force in influencing employee behavior and performance (McMurray et al., 2010). An example of this is that a good perception of the climate is related to a high level of commitment to the job; in the other hand a negative perception is associated with job tension and poor work performance (Jamal, 1984). In the same way, groups in an organization works in context of interdependent relationship with other groups, this relationship requires groups to coordinate their efforts and to try to coordinate not only their needs but also other group’s needs (Knippenberg, 2003). Thus is a need for the organization to create a climate that enhances friendly competition and positive interaction between groups.
1.3 Summary of the study
In order to answer the research question, the structure of the following paper will be integrated by four main chapters which are: , 1) Literature review, 2) Construct of hypothesis, 3)Methodology and 4)Findings and Discussion.
The literature review, is integrated by three main aspects: 1)Group dynamics and its characteristics, 2) Types of organizational structure and 3) Impact of organizational climate and leadership. In the first part, group dynamics and characteristics, it will be explained the definition and characteristics of a group, the main types of groups that exist in organizations, the different levels to approach in the study of groups, intra and inter group definition, groups in organizations and the effects and consequences of groups dynamics in members behavior. The second part, types of organizational structure, is integrated by a brief introduction of the different arrangements that exist in organization, analyzing first Mintzberg approach and then actual and most commons structures that exist nowadays, the importance of interdependency in organizations and how it affects the overall performance, and the main hierarchical levels of the organization and the impact that this has on employees and in the organization. The last part, organizational climate and leadership explains the importance of the work environment and how it affects employees behavior and organizational performance, at the same time it explains the impacts and importance that managers or leader roles has into the work environment and behaviors of the employees or group members.
In the second chapter, hypothesis construct, there will be a formulation of three main hypothesis that answer the research question; The hypothesis, are based on the analysis of the literature review, specifically the effects of inter-group dynamics and organizational climate. Each hypothesis will be joined by several arguments that support the connection between the manager’s perception of intergroup interaction (at the manager level) and its effects on employee’s perception of organizational climate or work environment and last but not least there will be a definition of the main variables of the study.
In the third chapter, methodology, there will be a description of how the research was made, specially the characteristics of the sample, such as size, region, main industries; Description of the two instruments (Mac Kenzie group interaction survey and EMCO survey of Gomez and Vicaro) used to evaluate the manager´s perception of intergroup interaction and employee´s perception of their group climate; And an explanation of the general procedure of the methodology; such as, which methods were used to approach to the managers and their work units, what were the time period for the data collection, and which were the main method to analyze the data.
In the last chapter, Findings and Discussion, there will be an explanation of the main outcomes of the study, a recapitulation of the hypothesis and some of the main limitations of the study and topics that need to be researched in the future in order to have a better understanding of the subject.
Although this paper will only focus in the study of intergroup interaction and its effects in organizational climate, in order to fully understand the context and the variables that this paper aims to study, first it will be revised (in general terms) the definition of “group dynamics” and some basic background of the topic. The importance of reviewing this topic relies on the fact that it is the base to understand the several factor that influence interaction inside and outside the group, as well the impact on the environment in which it develops.
Every individual is part of a system and at the same time that system is just a small part of a larger system. As it was previously cleared at the beginning, human beings are part of several groups (primary and secondary groups) and at the same time this groups are nested in a larger groups that can be called communities, societies and nations. Researchers have identified three main levels, in which groups dynamics can be studied; 1) The micro-level which is the study of individuals and their characteristics in the group, 2) the meso-level which is the study of groups as a whole or one entity; which includes characteristics such as: level off cohesiveness, groups size, composition and structure between others; and 3)Macro-level approach which include all the factors and qualities that all the small groups conform to create larger groups called communities, societies or nations (Donelson R. 2006). This study will base its analysis in the micro and meso-level analysis of groups in organizations. One example of the interaction between levels is the one described by the Sociologist Richard Hackman in which one of its studies shows the complex relationship between the different levels of groups in an orchestra performing, in their studies he discovered that the skills of one individual member substantially influences the overall performance of the group and this at the same time was influenced by the social context where it was located. In organizations, the relationship and effects between the different levels of group can be shown in everyday activities since the work done by a single employee, to the interaction of him between coworkers or members of its own department, and finally the interaction and relationship of that same department with the others (e.g. Marketing, operations, sells, logistics etc.) which, in sum, will affect the overall productivity of the organization. In conclusion, every individual develop itself in different groups, every interaction that he made shapes its environment and at the same time its environment shape the individual behavior and attitudes of the group, as we develop in different groups there exist an indirect interdependence between the groups.
In a micro-level approach, each individual´s behavior, way of thinking and attitude is influenced in a big way by the group as a whole; group environment or climate. According to Stainer (1974) “Each person is an element of a larger system; and what he does is presumed to reflect the state of a larger system and the event occurring in it” (as cited in Donelson 2006). In the same way, Lewin´s (1951) interaction theory states that the environment of the group determine the behavior of each member; this is explained by the formula B=f(P,E) where (B) states for the behavior of the member as a result or function (f) of the his interaction of its personal characteristics (P) with the environment (E) (Donelson 2004). Hackman (1992) also found that group members are influenced by two types of stimulation; 1) Discretionary stimulation which is made to group members differentially and selectively by the discretion of others, e.g. approval or disapprovals, role negotiations, coaching etc; this are usually made by a figure who has big influence in the group for example the leader, the boss, role model or a figure of authority. And 2) Ambient stimulation, which means that all members are exposed to the same factors and their behavior is influenced by the group composition, norms, group climate and task environment between other (Choi, Price and Vinokur (2003)). Therefore in organizational teams the behavior of an employee will be highly determined by the group environment and the stimulation of behaviors made by a figure of authority or the own coworkers.
People in order to survive and achieve their goals, have tended to gather in groups and work together; is in this collaboration and coordination of effort that they find themselves exchanging and sharing a set of capabilities and resources that helps them to succeed as a group and achieve their personal objectives. In his several studies Charles Darwin recognized that people living in groups is an adaptive strategy for human survival and reproduction (as cited by Van Vugt and Schaller, 2007); Therefore is not because we find ourselves living in a social world where interaction and belonging become a social desire but a need of our nature.
Although we behave differently in every group we are part of, most of our interaction (consciously or unconsciously, involuntary) is determined by the relationship and interaction that we as kids had in our first environment with our family and most close friends. Sociologist Charles Horton Cooley call to this groups of people “Primary groups” and defined as the main groups where we develop our first years or the people we interact with in a meaningful ways for a prolonged period of time; one example is our families or friends (Donelson 2006). Primary groups are characterized by their high level of cohesiveness, solidarity and members identification (Donelson 2006). In his studies Horton also distinguished another type of groups in which humans are part of, and call it “Secondary groups” this type of groups are characterized for being larger and more formally organized however they tent to last a shorter amount of time and are less emotionally demanding (Donelson 2006); examples of secondary groups can be found in our work environment such like, departments in an organization, work groups and project groups between others. Another categorization of groups that are develop in organization are the ones made by Darwin Cartwright and Alvin Zander (1960) whose studies results divide groups in two categorization; planned and emergent groups, Planned groups are the ones that are formed deliberately and by a specific purpose and emergent groups are the ones that are formed spontaneously.
Although most of the studies made over the years to analyze the reasons why we cluster in groups and the way we behave in them, have been made in the sociologist field, some researchers like Kurt Lewin (1946), have studied groups in an organizational manner, its studies explained the way small groups and individuals behave and interact in different situation; he call this “Group Dynamics” (Sniezek, 2007). However, in order to have a better understanding of “Group dynamics”, first it must be understood what is a group. In simple words, Donelson (2006) defined group as two or more individuals who are connected to one another by a social relationship. However, for a better understanding of the concept, a more complete definition used to study groups in organizations include the following characteristics found by several authors that have studied the subject. A group is a two or more individuals who perceives themselves to be part of the same social category, b) communicate and interact between them, letting themselves to be influenced by one another, c) are interdependent and interrelate, d) share an identity and common goals e) have some level of cohesiveness, meaning that their members belong in a bonded network of interpersonal relationships and f) create structures and systems to coexist in a civilized manner. (J.C Turner 1982, Homans 1950, M.E Shaw 1981, A.J Johnson 1995, Cartwright a& Zander 1968, McGrath 1984, R.Brown 2000, Kayton 2002 adn Sherif & Sherif 1956).
Although most of these characteristics are easy to understand and doesn’t need further explanation, some others like the nature of the interaction, interdependence, cohesiveness and structure have more ramifications that need more details to fully understand them. The nature of interaction in groups can be defined by the main actions and behaviors that the groups take and develop when they are together. Sociologist Robert Freed Bales (1950, 1999) in their several studies of groups, conclude that there are two main types of interaction; Task and relationship interaction. The first type are focused on the issues or work the group is dealing with. For the second one, relationship interaction or socio-emotional interaction, is focused in sustained, straightened or weakened the interpersonal relationships within the group. In the other hand, interdependency means that there is a mutual connection and dependence between each member of the group, their words, the outcomes, feelings, experiences are partially determined by some degree by others in the group. There are four main types of interdependence, which can be found in the majority of organizations. 1) Symmetric interdependence with reciprocity where each member of the groups is influenced by the same degree as the others; eg, common employees in a department with the same authority level in the organization, 2) Hierarchical interdependence without reciprocity, one person influences the others, e.g. a relationship described by a boss and his subordinates, 3) Hierarchical interdependence with unequal reciprocity, there is mutual reciprocity but there will be one person whose influence is stronger, e.g. the relation between the Managers in the organization and a CEO or General Manager, (although the General manager is the one that has more authority, their decisions and action will be influenced by the managers opinions and 4)Sequential reciprocity, when a members behavior is affected by another member which at the same time is affected by other; for example C is affected by B´s actions and B is determined by A´s actions; e.g. steps on a production line. The topic of interdependence is organization is very important because every department in the organization depends on the actions and results of other (this topic will be explained later in more details).
Cohesiveness refers to the level of connection between each member, meaning the level of solidarity, integrity, social integration and unity that each individual feels for the others in the group and which translate in the degree of coordination to achieve their goals. According to Mc Cauley, some of the characteristics of cohesion are; member’s attractions to the group normative influence, informational influence, and outside sources to the group (Sniezek 2007) and the more similar the individuals are the higher the cohesion in the group. In organizations, cohesiveness become an important factor to develop high performance and synergy in the team and between teams in all levels of the organization. Develop cohesiveness at the manager level, may take a bit more of effort, because of their different leadership styles, however the significance is greater since they are responsible for their department’s efficiency and productivity. Although at the beginning the merge of different leadership styles may cause difficulties in the communication and way of working, at the end the combination of different styles will be more beneficial by developing more valuable results. And last but not least Group Structure, this means how group members are connected to one another, it involves roles (general behavior and task expected in each member), norms (formal and informal standards and policies that determines each members behavior, this means what should and should not be done), and intra-member relations that organizes the group (Donelson R, 2014).
Human history has shown us that in order for people to coexist together they must pass for a several steps that will determine their roles and performance of each member in the group. No matter the size of the group, each congregation of people in order to leave together need to establish how they will leave and the importation of every individual to the whole community; Therefore, another important aspect of groups that affects their interaction and relation between members is the way they develop, from the first moment of them coming together for some special reason or objective, till the moment they decide to split; every stage of their development as a group will determine the way they interact, making them more influenced to factors such as engagement, conflict, competence, and avoidance between others According to Tuckman´s theory of group development, groups in order to coexist most pass through five stages during their development; 1)Forming, in which, all members get to know each other, share their background, their personal information and their main objectives and expectative in the group; 2) Conflict, in this stage some disagreements, dissatisfactions and challenges come to the surface, while the group works together to fix their differences and to solve their challenges they move to the next phase. 3)Structure, the group basically reach middle ground and establish norms, procedures, standards and roles which will improve their communication and cohesiveness; 4) Performance, in this phase the group has already reach certain kind of synergy between them, going beyond the disagreement and organizational matters to focus on the work and the main goal of the group; 5) The final stage is call Dissolution or Adjourning, the group have reached their goal or have finished their work together, in this stage there is only two ways to go, the members remain together or the group dissolves. If the integrates of the group remains together they become more structured and cohesive, according to Bales (1995) in this stage the group will “strives to maintain the balance between task oriented goals and emotionally expressive behaviors” (as cited in Donelson R, 2010), this means that the group strength their emotional bonds, achieve more specialization in their task and becoming more cohesive as a group. Although intergroup at the manager level do not dissolute due to the fact that their functions and responsibilities are linked together by the interdependence of their roles in the organization; the first faces of group development are always adapting to the loss and integration of new members. This means that the interaction will not follow steady patterns but instead will readjust the methods of work and communication having again the need to get to know each other (or at least the new members, stage 1), overcomer conflicts and disagreements (stage 2), setting new structures and policies (stage 3) and finally reaching a level of synergy and high productivity between them (stage 4).
Each organization functions in a network of organizational groups (Knippenberg, 2003). In all organization exist a natural and a formal formation of groups, it doesn’t matter if coworkers join together by their own will or if they join by design of an organization structure or to complete a special task; the performance of every organization will be the result of the performance and interaction of each group and its members. Dan Van Knippenberg state that groups in an organization works in a context of interdependent relationship with other groups, this relationship requires groups to coordinate their efforts and to try to coordinate not only their needs but also other group’s needs (Knippenberg, 2003). Elton Mayo proposed, from his studies, that there exist a relationship between individual and group behavior for labor productivity; this relationship relies in the fact that each individual is part of a system, in which performance depends on the behavior of every individual that integrates this system, or in other words, the overall productivity of the organization will be the sum of each individual and group performance. In the same way, the organizational structure and the division of labor make the perfect environment for the formation groups and the interdependence between them; as it has been reviewed in previous topics, similar characteristics not only in physical but also cognitional are one of the reasons people get into groups (Embedded Intergroup Relations Theory (EIRT)). Inter-group relations not only concern the interaction of different organizational groups but it also reflect the relationship of the organization as a whole, thus is a need for the organization to create a climate that enhance friendly competition and positive interaction between groups. Last but not least, according to Lawler, Mohrman, & Ledford (1995), in the last few decades there has been “an ongoing shift from work organized on individual jobs to team-based work structures” (as cited by Kozlowski & Bell, 2001). Therefore, understanding how groups work and how they relate and depend between them has become a priority for organizations that want to create an advantage in an competitive and globalized world.
A well as the process of a small group, as a whole, is determined by the interaction and relationship between its members, the development and functioning of a community (which is a larger group of people, set in small groups) will be determined by the interaction and relationship between each of this groups. To understand this two dynamics and its relationship, it is needed to explain two important topics that haven’t been presented till now, the intra-group and intergroup and their relationship. The first concept, Intra-group, refers to the micro-analysis of the group, this means to the process and interaction that happens within the group. Therefore intragroup dynamics is, as we have mentioned earlier, the process that give rise to the set of norms, roles and relations that characterize any group (West, Tjosvold & Smith 2003). Some clear example of intra-group dynamics inside organizations is the interaction between employees of the same department or project group. In the other hand, Inter-group dynamics (which is the analysis of groups at a macro-level) can be defined as the behavioral and psychological relationship between two or more groups group (West, Tjosvold & Smith 2003); Thus, in simple words, Inter-group refers to the interaction process (behaviors, attitudes, perception and opinions) between groups. An example of this is the interaction between department in the organization (Financial department explaining the budget that each department have for the whole year). According to Knnipenberg, 2003, Inter-group relations will determine the process of interaction of the organization as a whole. While the majority of the studies have been mostly focused on the study of groups in the micro and meso-analysis there is no doubt of the importance that inter-group analysis has not only in society but also in organizations. Although most of the studies, focused in inter-group, have been made mainly in disciplines with a societal focus, some of the theories and discoveries are useful to understand the interaction and relationship of intergroup in organizations. Some of the theories that applied or relevant to explain this relationship are:
Realistic Group Conflict Theory (RCT), by Campbell (1965) (in Knnipenberg, 2003) which states that intergroup behavior reflects group interest, this means that the quality of the interaction between groups will be determined by the relationship of the compatibility (collaboration to achieve a common goal) or incompatibility (competition for scarce resources) of their interest. Therefore, when groups have compatible interest their relationship will be more positive and harmonious on the contrary when they have incompatible interest their relationship will be characterized by negative responses such as prejudiced attitudes, hostility and discrimination. An example of an inter-group relation of compatibility is when the all department in the organizations get reworded when the performance of the organization as a whole reach the target, on the contrary an example of incompatibility is when the department negotiate and compete between them divide the next year budget. One critical point of this theory is that the relationship of inter-groups may holds more characteristics therefore negative attitudes and behaviors may emerge even in the absence of conflict of interest (Brewer, 1979 & Tajfel, 1982; in Knnipenberg, 2003).
Social Categorization (Turner et al.. 1987; in Knnipenber, 2003) / Social Identity Theories (Hogg & Abrams, 1987; Tajfel, 1978; Tajfel & Turner, 1986; in Knnipenberg, 2003), these theories focuses on the perception of individuals on others and in themselves in terms of their membership in a social group. The actual definition of social categorization would be the process of separating people in groups according similar characteristics. On the other hand, the definition of social identity is the process of individuals to base one part of their self-concept on members of a social group. Social identification is the extension of characteristics associated to a certain group to the self-image of an individual. This means that when an individual is highly associated with an organization it is more likely for them to behave in accordance with the group or organizational identity (Knnipenberg, 2003). What this theories states is that individual in groups will rate the in-group performance and status higher than it actually may be; in the other hand they will tend to comparison with other groups enhancing primarily negative aspects. For the study of groups in organizations, this theory can help us to understand that the interaction between groups may be more positive people who share same characteristics, and although members in the group are conscious that no matter the circumstances they have to work as a team, the differences between them may arise, unconsciously, conflicts between them.
Embedded Intergroup Relations Theory (EIRT) by Alderfer 1987 and Alderfer & Smith 1982 (Knnipenberg, 2003), propose a distinction between formal and identity groups, based primarily on the characteristics that individuals have before enter the organization and that will retain once they leave . In this case identity groups will be those formed based on common biological factors or common social experiences, in the other hand, organizational groups will be the ones formed on similar positions or experiences on a organizational context. This theory means that an individual, according to its characteristics will belong in an unconsciously or consciously to a certain group, this without actually having the chance to choose its membership to the group.
A social identity/ Social dilemma perspective; Kramer (1991) propose the social dilemma as a result of the conflict of interest between organizational groups. He suggest that instead of think inter-group relations in terms of conflict group interest, it is better to consider them in terms of weight assigned to the interest of the inter-group and the interest of the organizational as a whole. This means that when the interest of the inter-groups are salient or have a higher weight than the interest of the organization, groups will be more motivated to compete. In contrast, if the interest of the organization as a whole have a higher weight the groups will be more willing to cooperate with other groups (the main reason is because they fell part of a larger group) (Gaertner et al., 1993; Knnipenberg, 2003). This theory can explain why, although organizations promote team work with the HR department, the compensation or reward system may endorse unconsciously inte-rgroup competition and sabotage between them.
These theories can help to understand how people in a group come together, why they stay together and the explanation of their interaction inside the group and between groups. Another important factor to revise in this paper is how to measure and evaluate this interaction. Although over the years there have been several researchers who create different metrics to evaluate group interaction, the most common ones are: The group dynamics inventory developed using Yalom literature review specially from 1995, and measures the degree of cohesiveness (degree of attraction and influence between members), altruism (the feeling of being helpful and needed by others) and universality (sense of similarity and accepted by others) ( Phan, Torres Rivera, Volker, & Garrett, 2004). The Group Environment scale by Moos and Humphrey (1974) , which analyzes 10 dimensions of the social climate of psychotherapy and mutual support groups; Group Member-Leader social cohesion scale by Piper et al (1983), analyzes self report and behavioral data of the group members; Group Cohesion Questionnaire by Carron et al (1985), measure group cohesion in different group context; and Group Attitude Scale by Evans & Jarvis which measures group attraction (J, 2009).
However, for purposes of this topic, this paper will focus on ((methodology developed by mac Kenzie)) the Group Climate Questionare GCQ-S developed by Mac Kenzie in 1983, which reveals how members think and feel of the group interaction process (Krogel, 2008). Although the GCQ-S is a short version of the GCQ that has around 60 items and which was developed to study social environment and how they influence behavior through the following subscales: engagement, support, practicality, disclosure, cognition, challenge, conflict, and control. The GCQ-S with 12 items is universally known and has been used in more than 40 studies to evaluate group process through the perception of their individual members in the last 20 years, especially among psychotherapist group. The questionnaire contains the following scales Engagement, Avoidance and Conflict. The Engagement scale describes the decree of a positive working atmosphere and a sense of warmth, acceptance, support and belongingness that the members feel to one another; this subscale is highly related to the results of the group; according to Johnson’s studies in 2004, the higher the engagement the better the performance in the group. The Avoidance scale reflects the degree in which individuals perceive that members in the group elude and ignore their responsibilities and working problems. The Conflict scales reflects the degree of perceived tension and conflict between members, this in result of them perceiving themselves as individuals and not part of the group which give rise to negative emotions and confrontations; Studies form Phipps and Zastowny in 1988, suggested that groups with high levels of conflict report poor functioning (Krogel, 2008). Although the GCQ-S has been mainly used to analyze group process in psychotherapist groups, the scale do not lose its validity and it is useful to measure group interaction in any kind of environment.
The group pressure and environment affects negatively and positively to each individual, having as a consequence changes not only to its behavior but also to their judgments and identity; this at the same time affect the group overall performance and results. Asch´s (1956) points out that an individual in order to have a sense of belonging tent to conform to majority opinions (Asch 1995). Group members will also change their judgment according to the level of cohesion in the group e.g if the group has a higher level of cohesion is less probably that they will speak or act against the group (McCauley, 1998); This phenomenon is called group-thinking and happens when the group members in order to keep congeniality within the team, tent to ignore other alternatives and conform with others opinions. Group thinking cause faulty decisions, irrational actions, lack of group efficiency and moral judgments; According to McCauley, 1998 there are three main conditions for groupthink to occur: 1) Directive Leadership and lack of clear rules, 2) Homogeneity of members’ social background and ideology, and 3) Isolation of the group from outside sources (as cited in Sniezek 2007). In the same way Janis (1982) documented eight most probably symptoms for this phenomenon to happen: illusion of invulnerability (thee group as a whole can´t be harmed), Collective rationalization (members discount warnings without reconsidering their assumptions), Belief in inherent morality (members ignore the ethical consequences of their decisions), Stereotyped views of out-groups (the group develop negative stereotypes of outsiders), Direct pressure on dissenters (members do not allow anyone in the group to speak or act against them), Self-censorship (doubts are not expressed), Illusion of unanimity (the majority of the views and opinions are taken as unanimous) and Self-appointed ‘mind-guards’ (the group protect themselves from outside information or information that could contradict the group identity). Groups which have a high cohesion bases on social relationship are more common to suffer from this condition than groups whose cohesion is based on group’s goals and tasks. An important aspect to mention is that when the group cohesion is based on goals and task they are more likely to care about the quality of the decision and promote group discussion and conflict in order to evaluate every alternative and perspective.
Also the support of decision made within the group can cause deindividuation and shape of individual attitudes and behaviors. Deindividuation occurs when individuals in a group lose their identity and become attached to the group norms, this usually happens when members of the group gain a sense of anonymity due to the fact that the group is large enough to have an easy identification of each individual. According to Myers, 209; Festinger, Pepitone, & Newcomb (1952), deindividuated people “are less self-regulated, more responsive to the situation and more likely to act without thinking about their own values” (as cited in Sniezek 2007); therefore, they are more often to act irrational and without questioning the reason and consequences of their actions. Another effect is group polarization, which is the reinforcement of individual opinions to their initial inclination after a group discussion; this means that after group discussion, members will feel obligated to support their own opinions causing even more extreme decision than the initial inclinations of the members. This can be understood by explaining by two main theories; the informational and the normative influences. The informational influence explains that an individual opinion can be modified based on the acceptance of evidence about the reality provided by other members of the group. In the other hand the normative influence theory states that individuals change their opinions in order to fit into the group; this last theory is highly related to group-thinking; researchers have discovered that the group pressure and influence will affect the individual opinion and make him change by his own will in order for the last to have a sense of belonging by fulfilling the group expectations.
Another important aspect to keep in mind while studying intra and inter-groups in organizations is how the organizational structure is arranged. The organizational structure will explain why the formal groups are formed and the specific characteristics in their professional profile that members in a group share. According to Latf, Baloch and Khan (2012), an Organization is a uniform, structured and coordinated effort for achievement of economic/financial objectives for profit seeking firms and social for non-profit Organizations; another definition of organization ” is a coordinated unit consisting of at least two people who function to achieve a common goal or set of goals” (as quoted in Gibson, Ivancebich, Donnelly & Konopaske;2012). For purpose of this study we will define an organization as a structured and coordinated unit of people that seeks to achieve a common goal or set of goals. Structure and coordination of efforts are one of the main features that make and organization to succeed. According to Buchanan and Huczynski (2004), structure is “A formal system of task and reporting relationships that controls, coordinates and motivates employees so that they work together to achieve Organizational goals” (as quoted by Latf, Baloch and Khan 2012). Structures determine how people will be arranged, work, interact and communicate between them; it relates the individual performance to the overall goal and mission of the organization. In simple words, and organization is a leaving entity and it´s structure is a x-ray of the body, it will tell how every part works and how it is connected between them to make the body moves in response to its goal; it will explain the roll of every part of the entity, its task and responsibilities to achieve its goals. Thus, in order for the organization to work efficiently there most exist an efficient synergy between the different groups or substructures in the organization. According Mullins (2005) studies reveal that organization structure has the capacity to affects overall productivity, performance, economic efficiency, employee motivation and job satisfaction. Therefore, the design of the structure and the synergy in every section of it is one of the main factors for success in organizations; In the same way the importance of the topic is that organizational structure organize how people work and connect together, thus an inappropriate design of the organizational structure not only will affect synergy and performance but also will create confusion, stress, anxiety and the arise of negative feelings between the members of the organization.
As an organization grows it´s structure become more complex, with more ramifications that connects every part and individual needed for its success. This means that the organizational structure evolves with the company; for example when a company start, it usually have an informal organizational structure with one or two persons in charge of the decision making and in some cases also doing some operational activities with an small staff of employees; However, when the organization start growing and more people join in, the organization start changing to a formal and more organized structure. This kind of change sometimes arise conflicts, dysfunctional communication and role confusion not only between employees but also between decision makers. According to Steiger,Hammoud and Galib (2014), “the organizational structure has a strong tied with the company strategy and both are deeply intertwined”. In the same way, Alfred Chandlers studies (quoted in Lunenburg 2012) reveals a strong relationship between organizational structure and the organization´s strategy, being organizational strategy as the one that influences variables such as distribution of task and responsibilities, environment (or organizational climate) and technology. Therefore, we can say that in formal terms the organizational structure is part of the organization´s strategy and in order to achieve synergy between the different substructures to achieve the organization´s goals, both variables not only needs to be designed together but also to be measured and monitored, in order for the organization to detect potential conflicts.
Although, there are different ways to organize, personnel, activities and responsibilities in an organization the most basic characteristics are the ones defined by Henry Mintzberg, who identified three main dimensions that differentiate each organization: The first one is “the key parts of the organizations” which include: Strategic apex, operational core, middle line management, techno-structure and supporting staff. Second is “Prime coordination mechanism”; which refers to the way how the organization coordinates its activities, it includes: direct supervision, standardization of work process, standardization of skills, standardization of outputs and mutual adjustment (coordination through informal communication). And the third one is “Type of decentralization” used, which refers into the distribution of power and involvement of employees in the decision making of the organization, according to Mintzberg there are three main types of decentralization; Vertical (the distribution of power goes down the chain of command), Horizontal (the extent of power into non administrator make decision) and Selective (power is delegated into different units within the organization). Through these three dimensions Mintzberg identified five structural configurations in an organization: 1) Simple structure which uses as its key part the strategic apex, it focuses on direct supervision, and employs vertical and horizontal centralization. The advantages of this type of structure include fast adaptation, flexibility and allow an environment for innovation. Some examples of this kind of organization are small and medium size corporations, medium size retail stores, startups, and new government departments. 2) Machine Bureaucracy has the techno-structure as its key part, uses standardization of work processes as its prime coordinating mechanism, and employs limited horizontal decentralization. This type of structure allows high degree of formalization and work specialization; therefore it is useful for big companies with big chain of command who look for internal efficiency as its main goal. Some examples are automobile manufactures, steel companies and large organizations. 3) Professional Bureaucracy has the operating core as its key part, uses standardization of skills as its prime coordinating mechanism, and employs vertical and horizontal decentralization. This type of structure provides autonomy to its professionals, creating environments suitable for innovation and high quality services. Some examples are services industry and large firms. 4) Divisionalized Form has the middle line as its key part, uses standardization of output as it prime coordinating mechanism, and employs limited vertical decentralization. Decision making is decentralized at the divisional level. This type of organization is useful for organization spread in several regions. 5) Adhocracy has the support staff as its key part, uses mutual adjustment as a means of coordination, and maintains selective patterns of decentralization. The main goal of this type o structure is innovation and rapid adaptation to changing environments. Some examples are technology development firms, aerospace and electronics industries and research and development firms.
Although Mintzberg set the basis to understand organizational structure; Todays classification adapt itself to fit its environment and industry to finally evolve to the following forms: a) Adhocracy b)SBU or small business units, which is an adaptation of “Machine Bureaucracy”, c) Divisional Structure, this term is used in the same way as Mintzberg clasification. d) Functional structure, adapted from the term of “Professional Bureaucracy”, it focus on developing the professional skills of professionals, the environment created in this kind of structure enables employees to feel free, autonomous and to take risk. e) Matrix, this kind of structure can be considered as a combination of Functional and Divisional structure. Some of its advantages are the well response of dynamic and complex environments; beside this, the focus on learning and risk taking allows for innovation. As we can appreciate, today’s classification, although some terms have been changed, they still keep the basic concepts of Mintzberg structural configuration. Finally, in order for an organization to develop the right structure it most follow for basic steps: 1) Division of labor: which means that the work must be arranged into a specific jobs, 2) Departmentalization: the jobs with the equal characteristics most be grouped, 3) Division of people, which means that people must be divided into a group able to be managed by one person, and 4) Distribution of authority, which basically consist on determine the way and person responsible for the decision making. The importance of the different types of organizational structures to this thesis is that as it was clear earlier, the strategy is a key factor that determines the way people and groups in the organization interact. Having the wrong structure in an organization may enhance a dysfunctional interaction between employees in the organization characterized by communication problems, confusion and conflict of interest.
As we can appreciate from the organizational structure definition, an organization is a multi-agent system with goals, and every agent is interrelated and depends upon others. The organizational arrange of task and division of labor, have the capacity to affect the interdependence and interaction in an organization. Interdependency can be defined as the relationship and interaction of each agent, and how its individual contribution depends on the outcome of other to achieve greater goal. According to Puranam, Goetting and Knudsen (2011) task are interdependent when the value generated from performing one or more task is different, than when they are performed separately. However, as it was explained in chapter one “group dynamics, not only task in an organization are interdependent but also individuals, Allport (1962), Barnard (1998) and Weick (1979) (quoted in Tjosvold, 1989) state that organizations depends on the relationship and interaction among each individual and group of people in the organization; therefore, in order for an organization to accomplish its goals it needs to achieve synergy between each agent and productivity; this can only be accomplished with effective communication and coordination of effort between them. It doesn’t matter if only one department in the organization is performing a well if it is not working in coordination with the other department, its performance as well as the organization performance will be diminished; For example, in a Beer distribution company, the sales department need to have a communication with the operation and logistic department in order for them to know what they have in their warehouse, and is the same relationship with the marketing department in order for them to promote the right products. Thus the communication between departments is of great importance for the organization performance; in the same way, is every top-manager’s work to be in touch with the head of every department in order for them to communicate essential information to their teams, if the communications fails in the manager level each department will have troubles to perform their activities. Therefore the study the interdependency on intergroup interaction is crucial to improve performance in organizations.
Through the years several researchers have studied the connection and relationship between individuals, and have achieved to classify the kinds of interdependency in an organization. One of the first characters that studied this connection was Adam Smith; in his studies of “Division of labor and specialization” he argued that division of labor creates interdependency between tasks as well as its agents. Thomson based in the work of Smith identified two kinds of interdependency; 1) Interdependency between task and interdependence between agents. Interdependency between tasks exists when the value generated from performing each is different when the other task is performed vs. when it is not. 2) Interdependency between agents exists when the returns to A from A’s actions depend on B’s actions and vice versa. Subsequent studies also identified three types of interdependency, which are very similar to the ones already explained in the Group Dynamics Chapter; 1) Serial interdependence, when the output of B depends on the output of A and the output of C depends on B, e.g. in a production line, parts are been processed in one department and then transferred to another. 2) Reciprocal interdependency which means that each unit act in the output of the other, in this kind of interdependency the workflow goes in both ways, e.g. in a Restaurant waiters need to let front-desk agent know which tables are free for the customers, this in order for him to know which table will the customer sit. And finally 3) Pooled interdependency, which indicates that although there is no direct interdependency between each part the final outcome is the result of the overall work of the parts e.g. the workflow in an university, although each department works by tis own, the overall performance of the school will be affected by each department (Tjosvold, 1989). Additionally to this findings Deuthc´s (1943, 1973, 1980) study interdependency based on the outcomes and effects that it has on individuals, and develop the theory of “Central proposition” which argue that the perceived interdependence of goals significally affects the dynamics and outcomes of social interaction. This study how individuals and groups perceive the interrelationship of their goals. Based on this premise Deutch classified interdependency on two types; negative (Competition) and positive (Cooperation). In positive interdependency people perceive that one step towards ones goals will facilitate the other path to achieve its goals. On the contrary in the negative interdependency, individuals perceive that their goals are negatively correlated, which means that one step towards ones goals will interfere with the others and will make it less likely to reach their goals. This theory is highly related to the Social dilemma perspective theory, talked in this paper previously, and which also state that interaction is affected by the interest of the agents, specifically the interaction and interest between inter-groups.
In the same way, in an organization every element depends on the interactions and outcomes of others. In a micro-analysis of groups, individuals depends on their teams and work groups, at the same time, in a Meso-analysis, this work groups, depends on the other departments or work groups (e.g Accounting, with Sells, Sell with Operation and Marketing etc) and the last ones depends on the overall outcome of the organization. In a Macro analysis, each organization, in order to survive depends on the outcome and behavior of external groups and organizations (e.g. shareholders, competitors, partners and suppliers).In conclusion the analysis of interdependency in organizations is a critical factor for performance and goals achievement, an inappropriate interdependency can largely harm the morale and quality of work of employees (in all levels of the organizations), produce waste of time in work flows, produce and inadequate exchange of resources and finally increase cost in the organization.
According to several scholars hierarchies is a basic and universal characteristic of all human beings that lives in groups (quoted in Anderson and Brown, 2010), In an organization there are distinct levels of hierarchical management; each of them with different responsibilities and functions that affect the overall performance of the organization. Although this levels depends on the size (large or small) and the structure (tall or flat) of the organization; there exist at least three main level of hierarchical management; The first Top Management, belong to the high structure of the organization, this level of hierarchical management are in charge to design the strategies and goals of the organization; According to Zacaro (2001), Top management teams can affect strategic direction and performance of the organization, this level is integrated by Senior managements, CEO´s and CFO´s. The second level is the Middle level management, their main function is to serve as a bridge of communication between Top management and the First Line Management, they are in charge to implement, interpret and distributes the plans and strategies designed by the Top Management; This level is integrated by Administrative, HR, Marketing and Operative managers between others. The importance of the middle line management is that they are the bridge of communication between top management and fist line management, if there exist a bad inter-group interaction between them the whole organization will be affected. Thus the importance of studying the interaction of the management level and the effects in the organization is of great relevance in order to improve the organization performance. The last level is the front line management, this level is typically integrated by supervisors, team leaders, and Shift supervisors between others, their main function is to report to middle management, supervise employees and coordinate activities. Although the actions and function of each management level affect the organization and its employees in different aspects, the first line and middle management are the ones with more interaction and communication with the employees; therefore, a great part of the employee´s performance is influenced by them.
Human capital is one of the most important resources in organization; this is a well-known fact that managers and researchers know. It does not matter how good the procedures, values, policies or the technology in the organization are, if people performance is low the company´s performance will be as low as its employees. Despite the fact, that it exist a great number of components that affect the performance of the company, there has been evidence of one important and consistent element that has a high relationship on performance, this is organizational climate. Organizational climate can be described as a set of properties of the work environment, perceived directly or indirectly by the employees, that is assumed to be a major force in influencing employee behavior (McMurray et al., 2010). It can be defined as the employees’ shared perceptions or experiences of the policies, practices, and procedures of their workplace and the behaviors that get rewarded, supported, and expected there. Organizational climate is integrated by the subjective psychological evaluation and perception by individuals and therefore it can be influenced and controlled. These means that there exist several factors on the organization that can be controlled, in the same way we can evaluate the perception of the individuals or employees to these factors and adjust them to create a positive organizational environments. Although the first studies that mention the concept of organizational climate are from 1939 on the article “Patterns of aggressive behavior in experimentally created “social climates” by Lewin, Lippitt and White ; the concept and the effects of organizational climate were not fully studied and measured until 1966 when Litwin and Stringer provide a very comprehensive framework of Organizational Climate; and develop six dimensions for the concept, that include i) structure, ii) responsibility, iii) reward, iv) risk, v) warmth and vi) support. Later in that same year Schneider and Bartlett, attempted to develop a measure of climate. After these studies several researchers tried to fully analyze and demonstrate the features of work climate, some of these studies were made by Litwin and Stringer (1968), Campbell, Dunnette, Lawler, and Weick (1970) or Payne and Pheysey (1971), Pritchard and Karasick (1973), and Joyce and Slocum (1984), yielded 2, 11, and 6 dimensions respectively. Now days there is still considerable diversity in the number and type of dimensions used to explain the effect of organizational climate.
One of the main reasons of these issues is because climate involves employee´s perception of their work environment and different types of Organizations with their differents practices and procedures will have relatively unique climates. In the same way, different scales have been developed to analyze organizational climate perceived by the employees; the most common ones are: Organization Climate Description Questionnaire (OCDQ) by Halpin and Crofts, Organization Climate Questionnaire (OCQ) by Litwin and Stringer, Executive Climate Questionnaire by Tagiuri and Litwin, Agency Climate Questionnaire (ACQ) by Schneider and Bartlett, Organizational Climate Index from Stern, Business Organization Climate Index (BOCI) by Payne y Pheysey, Survey of Organizations by Taylor and Bowers, Organizational Climate Questionnaire by Lawler, Hall and Oldham,Perceived Organizational Climate by Dieterly and Schneider, (as quoted in Patlán Pérez & Flores Herrera, 2013) between others; Most of this scales have been developed for general business context and not for an specific culture or a context that shares the same characteristics; Therefore this scales might miss some cultural factors critical to analyze perceptions of the audience. Thus in order to have a good measurement scale that consider the cultural factors of the environment, this thesis will uses the “Escala Multidimensional de Clima Organizacional (EMCO)” developed by Gomez and Vicario in 2008, to specifically measure perceptions of the organizational environment for the Mexican Population. This scale has eight factors, and these factors are organized into three levels of analysis, and include 29-item. The first level is the Individual system, including factors such as 1) Employees satisfaction and, 2)Autonomy in the work place, The second one is Interpersonal system, which includes 3)Social relationships between coworkers, and 4) Sense of support and cohesion between coworkers, And finally the third one is the organizational system which includes 5) Managers coaching skills, 6) Benefits and rewards, 7) Motivation, and 8) Managers leadership skills. The next chart shows the definition of each factor.
Table 1 EMCO; Organizational climate survey for Mexican Population. Definition of concepts
|Organizational climate||Organizational climate Factors||Definition|
|Individual system||Employee´s Satisfaction||Degree in which employees perceive they have been properly rewarded by their job. Have a sense of satisfaction concerning their achievement and feel happy about work environment.|
|Autonomy in the work place||Degree in which employees have a sense independency in their work and feel enough freedom to choose the way they want to work.|
|Interpersonal system||Social relationship between coworkers||Degree in which employees perceive they work under an atmosphere of friendliness, and good communication to do their daily activities.|
|Sense of support and cohesion between coworkers||Degree of good communication, commitment and integration that exist between members of the organization, and which gives them the sense of support and caring to promote team work.|
|Organizational system||Managers coaching Skills||Degree in which employees perceive that they have being treated with respect, caring and support by their supervisor.|
|Benefits and rewards||Degree in which employees feel they have been properly compensated and remunerated by the organization, With stimulus and rewards such as, salary, vacation, bonus and other type of rewards that gives them a sense of satisfaction and good treatment.|
|Motivation||Degree in which employees sense they are being positive stimulated by the organization conditions and politics to influence them to work harder, improve their performance commitment and the quality of their work every day.|
|Managers leadership skills||Degree in which employees perceive they are being properly guided by their superiors; it also measures the employees perception on the superior skills such as, decision making, leadership and communication of activities.|
Escala Multidimensional de Clima Organizacional (EMCO); Definition table (Patlán Pérez & Flores Herrera)
The levels of study and factors of the EMCO shows a more robust instrument to evaluate organizational climate. Therefore, studies made to show de validation of this new questionnaire and the results indicate that the EMCO is an effective tool for measuring organizational climate and encourage the conduct of research in the Mexican population.
There have been several studies that show the direct relationship of organizational climate and employee’s performance. The performance of the employee is the result of the perception of experiences that the employee has to the different policies, practices, and procedures of their workplace and the behaviors that get rewarded, supported, and expected. If the employee has a good perception to these features, his behavior and attitude towards the company will be positive; on the contrary if the employee perceives negatively these features his performance will be negative in different aspects. Staw, Sutton, and Pelled (1994) found that positive emotion at work predicts subsequent employee performance, controlling for prior performance, education level, age and gender. Negative affect in terms of job-related tension is associated with poorer work performance (Jamal, 1984). It has been found that a good perception of the climate relates to a high level of commitment to the job. This is because the level of job satisfaction increases when a positive and emotional attachment bound between the organization and the employee is created. If the organization is able to create this bound of attachment, the employee will fully adopt the company’s goals, values, policies and culture as his own. Another important fact that has been discovered, is that individuals with different educational level had significant differences on the perception of rules, performance, and promotion and communication climates; for example compared with high educational level those with low educational level had more positive perception of rules. These can be translated that if the organization can adapt some aspect of the dimensions of organizational climate to each level of employee it will improve the performance in every level of the organization.
Organizational climate belonged to subjective psychological evaluation and perception by individuals, the subjective evaluation and perception of individuals for this reality could be adjusted and controlled. Consequently, managers can pay attention to investigate and understand the perception of employees for organizational climate and reduce or eliminate their negative perception by a large quantity of communication and expert guidance in order to attenuate its negative effects.
A study made by TINY pulse, an employee engagement firm in the US, reveal that a bad relationship with the boss is one of the main reason employees leave their job. In the same way, estimations reveals that 65% to 75% of employees report that the worst aspect of their job is their bosses (Hogan, 2007; in Nowack and Mashihi 2012). In recent years, studies has proved that leadership effects in organization performance increased from 10% in 1970 to 50% in 1985 (Peterson, Smith, Martorana, &Owens, 2003). In the same way, in the last couple of years, leadership has been recognized for its contribution on employees perception of their work environment; Nauman and Bennet (2000) argues that group leaders are the primary architects of group member climate perceptions (as cited in Choi, Price, and Vinokur, 2003).
In 1995 Yalom argued that the leader’s main responsibility is the creation of a therapeutic group climate, maximizing an effective group interaction (as quoted in Kivlighan and Tarrant, 2001). It is not a surprise, that in organizations, direct supervisors and managers are being perceived as leaders of their team. Although, it may not be always the case, for the subordinate or employee, direct supervisors and managers are seeing as the person who will guide them and depend across their carrier. People who hold a position of authority are the bridge of communication and interaction between the organization and the subordinates. Linkert (19679 and McGregor (1960), argues that leaders with their actions transmit their beliefs and unconsciously create their own climate. In the same way, Bandura (1986), also argues that trough social learning process and interaction, leaders affect subordinate climate perception. Therefore, if leaders are not in line with the organizational values or embody the climate and culture that the organization want to communicate, they will cause confusion and dysfunction between their subordinates which will be translated in poor performance.
Several sources defines leadership as a relation of influence with a person or a group of people in order to achieve one common goal; in organization this process also involves maximizing all of the human resources by empowering individuals and giving them the opportunity to take leadership positions in their areas of expertise. Socrates in his studies argued that leadership is situational (as quoted in Khan, Qureshi, Ismail, Rauf Latif & Tahir, 2015); now researchers have identified several styles of leadership or leadership behavior, each appropriate for different situations. Although there has been several theories (e.g. Trait Theories, Contingency theories, Situational theories, Behavioral theories, Participative theories, Management theories and Relationship Theories, Between others) that propose different styles most of them can be summarized in the following; 1)Autocratic, in which leaders have absolute control and do not allow subordinates to participate in the decision making, it relies in threats an punishment as way of influence and it best fit for situations in which a fast answer is required, unskilled labor is used and where subordinates do not respond to any other leadership style. This type of leadership has as effect high staff turnover, absenteeism and little employee satisfaction about his job. 2) Bureaucratic Leadership, it is based on following normative rules and positional power (line of authority) as a way to influence the subordinates, it best fit for situation in which safety and standards of results are paramount. 3) Charismatic Leadership, this type of leadership empowers subordinates and exudes enthusiasm and personal conviction as a way to influence them. One of its major disadvantages is that it may cause performance lag when the leader is not present. 4) & 5)Democratic and Participative leadership, the leader base his actions in delegating responsibility and encouraging subordinates to participate in the decision making, although the leader has the final decision in the decision making process, he influences his subordinates by giving them a sense of ownership and belonging. Although, this style may be time consuming and not be fited for crisis situation it is considered as the most effective style; one of the main reasons is because subordinates feels more engaged, motivated and creative, having as a result higher quality in their performance. 6) Laissez-faire Leadership, in this type of style the leader gives total freedom to his subordinates to develop their own courses of action and to take their own decisions. The leader provides little or no direction at all, giving only advises and the resources to work.
Another simple way to group the different styles and theories is placing them in a two dimension map, which is the base of all the leadership perspective. The first dimension is based on the power used by the leader, and it basically means the degree of control, dominance and command hold by the leader; this type of leader characterize themself for being autocratic and usually influence his subordinates trough threats and orders without letting them questioning. The second dimension is focuses on the degree of participation or intervention by the leader. This type of leaders characterizes themself for being democratic and they influence their subordinates through motivation and letting them express their ideas and course of action. The combination of this two dimensions produce a matrix of four main quadrants, where we can place the type of leadership depending in the degree of power and participation that is been used. It is important to make clear that there is not a unique leadership style that work for every situation, but each style is useful for different situations, a good leader should be able to recognize the conditions on the situation and the type of decision that is needed to choose between the right degree of power and participation.
Another important aspect to keep in mind is leadership personality, according to Herman and Roeston, 1994, Leaders personality highly contribute to the way the group interact and the quality of their interactions. Even though, personality has been broad subject to study and hard to box in dimensions, after years of research the field finally achieve a consensus of five traits, which are called “The Big Five”; this dimensions were the result of analysis of terms that people use to describe themselves and others. This traits or dimensions are: 1) Extraversion, characterized by excitability, sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness and high amounts of emotional expressiveness; 2) Agreeableness, includes attributes such as trust, altruism, kindness, affection and other prosaically behaviors, 3) Conscientiousness, which high levels of thoughtfulness, control and goal-directed behaviors 4) Neuroticism characterized by sadness, moodiness, and emotional instability and 5) Openness that includes characteristics such as imagination and insight, and those high in this trait also tend to have a broad range of interests.
The importance of these last topics is that leader’s personality and the use of different leadership style in a wrong situation may cause a negative effect in employee´s perception of their environment. And although these topics will not be analyzed, it is noticeable point to keep in mind while analyzing and the results of this thesis.
In sum, the literature review points that interaction at the manager level is an important factor that affects employees perception of their work environment; This is due to the fact that organizations are interdependent systems of agents (people and group of people) connected between them in a vertical and horizontal way; and although some connections may be stronger than others and have a major impact, all agents activities will have an effect (direct or indirect) in others. In the same way, as we explained before in the literature review leaders are the main architects of work environment; therefore actions of agents who are above the chain of command, have an authority role or are considered as leaders will have a major impact on the organization performance by shaping or influencing other attitudes, perceptions and behaviors. Also, acknowledging that group climate shapes members attitudes and behavior which at the same time affects the group environment, intra and intergroup interaction will increase its positive or negative effects on others whether it be the case, so a negative interaction or climate between inter-groups at the manager level will also cause negative emotion in their inter-group work units. Thus by demonstrating how interaction process at the manager level, affects employees perception of their work environment or most commonly known as organizational climate, organization can be aware that another factor that affects organizational climate and consequently employees performance is the relationship between managers; therefore, they can apply programs and strategies that improves manager´s inter-group interaction and communication and with this employee´s attitudes and behaviors.
Thus, from this theoretical reasoning the following three hypotheses are formulated:
H1. A Manager’s inter-group dynamics characterized by high levels engagement will cause on employees a positive perception of their work environment
High engagement between managers will mean good communication and trust, creating a positive environment of openness and commitment to solve interpersonal hitches, task and organizational problems to finally turning diversity into advantages. Managers who perceive an interaction characterized by engagement will feel a positive working atmosphere making them feel a sense of warmth, acceptance, support and belongingness to one another; this feeling will help them to be more engaged with the organization, more confidents in their roles and more clearness in their tasks. As we review in the literature review, leaders influence work environment, therefore by having a positive work atmosphere at the manager level, managers will transmit this into their work units or departments; influencing their employees to have a more positive perception of their work environment.
H2. A Manager’s inter-group dynamics characterized by high levels avoidance will cause on employees a negative perception their work environment. However low levels of avoidance will cause a positive effect in organizational climate
If managers perceive an interaction characterized by a high level of avoidance they will feel a lack of intergroup communication, disparity of commitment, confusion, low participation in meetings and evasion of responsibilities and problems, this behaviors will increase the risk of conflicts and tension between them. At the same time, a lack of communication between managers will cause a misunderstandings and bad communication flow towards their work units or employees; which will cause on their employees confusion and stress, making them perceive a negative and not pleased work environment.
H3. A Manager’s inter-group dynamics characterized by high levels conflict will cause a negative perception of their work environment.
Similar to avoidance, manager´s perception of their inter-group interaction characterized by conflict will reflect a feeling and atmosphere of tension, lack of communication and struggle between members, which will give rise to negative emotions and confrontations. As it was expose in the literature review, the environment affect group interaction and this at the same time affects group climate; therefore, a stressing environment and negative emotions created by the manager level will be also transmitted to their work units and employees affecting with this their perception of their work climate which at the same time will have and negative impact on their attitudes and behaviors.
Figure 1: Hypothesis construct
Definition of Variables
Managers intergroup interaction: Level of Engagement at the manager level, Level of conflict at the manager level and Level of avoidance at the manger level:
Level of Engagement at the manager level: Degree of commitment, sense of warmth, acceptance, support and belongingness that managers perceive in the inter-group interaction and which gives them the feeling of develop their activities in a positive work atmosphere.
Level of Conflict at the manager level: Degree of tension, bad communication negative emotions and confrontation that managers perceive in their intergroup interaction and which gives them the feeling of develop their activities in a negative and conflictive work atmosphere.
Level of avoidance at the manager level: Degree in which individuals perceive that members in the group elude and ignore their responsibilities and working on their hitches and organizational problems.
Organizational climate: Although the perception of the organizational climate depends on several factors of the organization, for this thesis it will be considered that intergroup interaction at the manager level influence employee´s perception of their work environment. To analyze this variable, it will be considered the EMCO dimensions of organizational climate, which have been already explained.
The study was done in 80 mangers and their work units belonging in small and medium size Mexican companies with around 30 to 60 employees each, that had at least three levels of management (Top Management, Middle Management and front line management). And, in order to appreciate the interaction of different groups it was preferred organizations that already had a formal organizational structure, characterized by at least three individuals in each division (Marketing, sales, operation between others). The participants were mostly in the textile, service and automobile parts industry.
This study used two questioners as instrument of research which used likert scale from 1 to 6 as evaluation system (1=Not at all, 2= A little bit, 3= Somewhat, 4=Moderately, 5= A great deal, and 6=Extremely), and the channel of collection of data was through typeform internet survey website. The first instrument is the Group Engagement Questionnaire of MacKenzie, which measure Engagement, Conflict and Avoidance of the group. The second instrument is call EMCO, developed by Gomez y Vicaro in 2010, which measures the organizational climate (or employees perception of their environment) in three main dimension: Individual, Interpersonal and Organizational. The Group Engagement Questioner was delivered to the Management team, and measured the interaction process of leaders as a group. The EMCO survey was delivered to the employees (subordinates of each manager) this in order to measure their perception of their environment.
Simple analysis was made in excel and in order to show the relationship of the variables two deep analysis of the data were made in Minitab statistic program. The simple analysis shows the basic behavior of the data such as the average perception of managers intergroup interaction and employees perception of their organizational climate. For the deep analysis of the data in Minitab, two test was made; In the first test, one single model was made to make the correlation between the three single variables (engagement, conflict and avoidance) with the dependent variable (organizational climate); however, the results, shown in the residuals graphic, seemed that the data didn’t have a normal distribution which means that the model was not good. Therefore in the second test, the variables were analyzed independently, each in a single linear regression model.
The Group Engagement Questionnaire; developed by Mac Kenzie and Livesley in 1983 and which main purpose is to analyze group interaction in three main stages: The first one, Engagement, describe the degree of warmth, acceptance, support, and belongingness that the members feel to one another; this stage is represented by a certain kind hope and a strategy for change and the creation of a group identity. The second stage call Conflict, is characterized by a high differentiation between the members, instead of achieving synergy towards their goal, they represent themselves as individuals and separate from the others, they confront between them with negative emotions. The third stage, Avoidance which describes behaviors indicating individuation, in this stage the learning that have been acquiring in previous stage is used to achieve a working group.
Tabla 1 Mac Kenzie; Group Cimate Questionare for Managers
|Group climate Questionare|
|1=Not at all, 2= A little bit, 3= Somewhat, 4=Moderately, 5= A great deal, and 6=Extremely||1||2||3||4||5||6|
|1. The members liked and cared about each other?|
|2. The members tried to understand why they do the things they do, tried to reason it out?|
|3. The members avoided looking at important issues going on between themselves?|
|4. The members felt what was happening was important and there was a sense of participation?|
|5. The members depended upon the group leader(s) for direction?|
|6. There was friction and anger between the members?|
|7. The members were distant and withdrawn from each other?|
|8. The members challenged and confronted each other in their efforts to sort things out?|
|9. The members appeared to do things the way they thought would be acceptable to the group?|
|10. The members rejected and distrusted each other?|
|11. The members revealed sensitive personal information or feelings?|
|12. The members appeared tense and anxious?|
The second questioner is call EMCO, developed by Gomez y Vicaro in 2010. It is integrated by eight variables divided in three dimensions. The first dimension works at the individual level. This includes factures such as Employee satisfaction and Work autonomy. The second one works at an interpersonal level and it includes perception of the relationship between members, union and support between coworkers. The third dimension work at an organizational level and includes perception of the employees towards their leaders (managers), benefits and rewards, motivation of employees to work hard and finally the perception of employees towards their leader´s skills.
Table 2; EMCO; Organiational Climate survey for employees
|EMCO; Organizational climate survey|
|1=Not at all, 2= A little bit, 3= Somewhat, 4=Moderately, 5= A great deal, and 6=Extremely||1||2||3||4||5||6|
|1. Do I feel satisfied with my daily activities?|
|2. Do I have a sense of fulfillment regarding my job?|
|3. Do I feel that my coworkers enjoy their activities?|
|4. Do I think that my coworkers dislike doing their daily activities?|
|5. Do I feel autonomy to decide how to do my job?|
|6. Do I feel free to decide how to solve the problems that come up in my job?|
|7. Do I have the opportunity to express the way I want to do the activities in my job?|
|8. Do I perceive that in general there exists a friendly relationship between coworkers?|
|9. Do I perceive that there exists a climate of fellowship between coworkers?|
|10. Do I perceive a climate of trust between coworkers to speak of any problem?|
|11. When there is a new employee in the organization, Do I perceive that I and the other coworkers make them feel part of the group?|
|12. In general, Do I perceive that coworkers in the organization have a sense of unity and feel part of a same group?|
|13. Do I perceive that when a problem emerge, all coworkers work together to solve it?|
|14. Do I perceive that in the organization, me and the other coworkers create pleasant environment?|
|15. Do I perceive that me and the other coworkers are being treated (by the Managers) in the must human way?|
|16. Do I perceive that me and the other coworkers are being treated (by the managers) with respect.|
|17. Do I perceive that Managers give support in the realization of my activities?|
|18. Does my direct boss treat me with indifference?|
|19. In the organization, Does Managers treat their employees in a Dehumanized way?|
|20. Does the organization offer incentives to do my job in a better way?|
|21. Do I perceive that I and the other coworkers have the same opportunities to be benefited by our job?|
|22. Does the organization offers incentives to the employees to improve their work?|
|23. Do I perceive that there exist more than one way to reward my work?|
|24. Do I perceive that, in general, all the coworkers are enthusiastic and motivated to do their job?|
|25. Do I perceive that coworkers enjoy doing their job?|
|26. Do I perceive that my coworkers give their best to do their job?|
|27. Does my boss have an open attitude to listen opinions related to work?|
|28. Do I perceive that in the organization all employees are being supported by their bosses?|
|27. Do I perceive that my boss have a hard time to guide me or my coworkers to do my job and achieve the goals?|
Total size of the sample: 80 managers and 256 employees in a total of 16 companies.
Mac Kenzie surveys result; To evaluate Manager´s perception of their inter-group interaction at the manager level.
Table 3 Manager´s perception of their intergroup interaction at the manager level
|Number of total Managers who perceive that their inter-group interaction at the manager level has the highest level of:||Number of total Managers who perceive that their inter-group interaction at the manager level has the lowest level of:|
Note: Maximum and minimum values per manager
Most the managers perceive that the intergroup interaction at the manager level is characterized by “engagement”, 57 managers out of 80, 15 managers perceive that the interaction tents to be “conflictive” and only 8 perceive that their interaction is characterized mostly by “avoidance”. On the other hand, 44 managers out of 80 perceive that their interaction is not conflictive, 26 managers perceive that their interaction is not characterized by avoidance and 10 managers with engagement.
Table 4: Values of Managements interaction perception per organization
Figure 2: Level of intergroup interaction at the manager level by organization
The table 3 and figure 2, shows the average of all manager´s perception of their inter-group interaction by dimension (engagement, conflict and avoidance) and organization. The table give insights of the level of engagement, conflict and avoidance between intergroup interaction at the manager level in each organization; And as it can be seen from the table there is no extreme value, cero engagement, conflict or avoidance, on the dimension; most of the managers perception per organization vary between 2.57 and 4.92.
Table 5: Employee´s perception of the organizational climate per organization
Autonomy in the work place
Social relationship between coworkers
Sense of support and cohesion between coworkers
Managers coaching Skills
Benefits and rewards
Managers leadership skills
Average of the mean
Note: The data is the mean of each dimension
Figure 3: Employee´s perception of their organizational climate
As it can be analyzed from the table 4 and figure 3 most of the there is no extreme value for any of the dimensions (0=desagree or 6= extremely agree), the lowest dimension for all the organization was the perception of employee´s satisfaction. Most of the data are in a range of 3 to 5 which means that most of the employees perceive their organizational climate as neutral or slightly positive. The overall mean is the global result of how employees perceive the organizational climate of the organization, as it can be seen most of the organization follow the same tendency of neutral or slightly positive perception of the dimensions, except for the company 1 in which is clear that the perception of the organizational climate are perceived as negative and with very low satisfaction.
First test results in Minitab: All variables in a single model.
Table 6: Model Summary
First analysis; One model for all variables
In this model, the R-sq is 27.88% which means that the relationship between the dependent variable, organizational climate, and the independent variables (engagement, conflict and avoidance) is only explained by a 27.88%. Although R-sq doesn’t need to have a high value is always desirable.
Table 7: Coefficients
First Analysis: One model for all variables
The P-Values for all the independent variables are higher than α=0.05 therefore in this model all the independent variables are considered as irrelevant to describe the dependent variable. However, in this model it can be seen that from all the values, Engagement has a positive effect on organizational climate with the highest coefficient of .45; for Conflict and avoidance it can be seen that they have a positive and negative effect , nevertheless, their coefficient, .073 and -.032 respectively, are so close to 0 that makes them irrelevant to make a conclusion for the model.
Table 8:Regression Equation
|Organizational Climate = 1.92 + 0.450 Engagement + 0.073 Conflict – 0.032 Avoidance|
First Analysis: One model for all variables
Figure 4: Residual Plots for organizational climate
First Analysis: One model for all variables
Although in this model shows some insights of the study the data and graphics are not as clear to have trusted conclusions; therefore a second test, in which every independent variables is analyzed independently, was made.
Each variable was analyzed separately; therefore, there are three models, one for each variable.
Table 9: Model Summary; Engagement
Second Test: One model for each variable: Engagement
In this model, the R-sq is higher with at 27.09% which means that engagement as manager´s perception of intergroup interaction affects with 27% the employees perception of their organizational climate.
Table 10: Coefficients; Engagement
Second Test: One model for each variable; Engagement
The P-Values , for the constant and the engagement coefficient is less than α=0.05 which means that this model is significant to describe the relationship between the independent and the dependent variable . Finally in this model the Engagement coefficient of 0.396 indicates a positive effect on organizational climate.
Table 11: Regression Eguation; Engagement
|Organizational Climate = 2.275 + 0.396 Engagement|
Second Test: One model for each variable; Engagement
Figure 5: Residual Plots for Organiational Climate; Engagement
Second test: One model for each variable; Engagement
In this model, it can be seen that the residual data slightly improve, on the normal distribution adjustment. In the graphic “versus fits”, it can be seen a is a better behavior of the variance of the data, this compared to the last first model.
Table 12: Model Summary; Conflict
Second test: One model for each variable; Conflict
In this case the R-sq is 6.54%, although, as it was explained before it is desirable for R-sq to have a high value it is not dispensable, therefore the conflict R-sq value doesn’t affect this model.
Table 13; Coefficients; Conflict
Second test: One model for each variable; Conflict
On the other hand, the P-Value It is not small enough to affirm that analyzing only the Conflict independent variable it can affect the Organizational climate variable. In the same way, the coefficient for this variable is -0.182 which means that, although it is a slightly small, the variable has a negative effect on organizational climate.
Table 14: Regression quation; Conflict
|Organizational Climate = 4.504 – 0.182 Conflict|
Second test: One model for each variable; Conflict
In this model, it can also be seen that the residual data improve, on the normal distribution adjustment the bell shape can be easily identified; therefore this model is good to describe the relationship between conflict as a perception of intergroup interaction at the manager level and employee´s perception of their organizational climate.
Table 15: Model summary; Avoidance
Secon test: One model for each variable; Avoidance
Table 16: Coefficients; Avoidance
Second test: One model for each variable; Avoidance
On the data analysis, it can be confirmed what the first analysis showed, this independent variable it is not significant to explain employee´s perception of their organizational climate; this can be concluded from the p-value higher than α=0.05 and the coefficient value of .091 which is to close to 0.
Table 17; Regression Equation
|Organizational Climate = 3.601 + 0.091 Avoidance|
Second test: One model for each variable; Avoidance
Figure 6: Residual Plots for organizational climate; Avoidance
Second test: One model for each variable; Avoidance
In the case of the independent variable Avoidance, it can be seen positive behavior on the plot residual graphic and homogeneity in the scatterplot of the variance.
In sum, it can be statistically confirmed that the perception of managers intergroup interaction (at the manager level) has a connection with employees perception of their organizational climate. Specially for the Engagement and conflict variable which have a positive and negative effect on organizational climate. Therefore the study reveals that an inter-group interaction at the manger level characterized by a sense of warmth, acceptance, support, active communication and belongingness between managers affects positively employees perception of their work environment, therefore Hypothesis 1, “Engagement” as a Manager´s perception of their intergroup interaction have a positive effect on employee’s perception of their work environment, is confirm. In the same way an intergroup interaction at the manager level characterized by tension, stress, negative emotion and confrontation have a small negative effect on employee´s perception of their organizational climate; therefore, Hypothesis 3: A Manager’s inter-group dynamics characterized by high levels conflict will cause a negative perception of their work environment is confirmed as valid. For last but not least a manager´s perception of their intergroup interaction at the manager level characterized by a lack of communication between managers, avoiding of responsibilities and member´s hitches as well as organizational problems, do not cause a significant impact on employees perception of their organizational climate; therefore Hypothesis 3: A Manager’s inter-group dynamics characterized by high levels avoidance will cause on employees a negative perception their work environment. However low levels of avoidance will cause a positive effect in organizational climate is rejected.
This study makes a number of important contributions to the literature of intergroup interaction and its effects on organizational and group climate, as well as HR strategies to improve employee´s perception of their work environment and organizational performance. By establishing the connection between intergroup interaction at the manger level and employee´s perception of their group climate this study suggest that interaction at the manager level shapes positively or negatively (depending the case) employee´s perception of their work environment; therefore with the discoveries of this study researchers can have another approach of how manager´s (leaders) intergroup interaction influence work units climate, contributing to the already existing studies of leaders effect on group climate, which state that leaders are the primary architects of group member´s climate perception (Nauman and Bennet, 2000 in in Choi, Price, and Vinokur, 2003); although the study didn’t focus on the impact of a single leader to its work units perception of work climate but rather how leaders perception of intergroup interaction between leaders (managers) affects this perception, the theory behind the study (leaders impact group climate perceptions) supports the hypothesis. On the other hand, the study also make a practical contribution to the question of how HR department can improve organizational climate, trough the results of these study HR department can design and implement programs that will not only improve interaction and communication between leaders or managers in the organization but will also impact the organizational climate and therefore employees job satisfaction and performance.
As it was explained in the literature review, group climate is affected by several factors of the same group, characteristics of the atmosphere, member´s experiences, personality and other biological characteristics. According to several researchers factors such as direct relationship between boss and employees, rewards system, HR retention programs and strategies, employees carrier advisory, recruitment process, and physical characteristics of the organization between others, are the main predictors of organizational climate therefore the employees perception of their group climate as well as managers intergroup perception of their interaction will be affected by them. Thus the fact that the study didn’t focus on an inventory of the characteristics of the organization that have a direct impact on employees perception of their environment, make cause the results to be imperfect. In the same way, the lack of analysis of the factors that different theories of inter-group interaction (Social identity, Social categorization, EIRT and Social dilemma) has on the effects of intergroup interaction such as the relationship between different groups in organizations, also the lack of evaluation of managers (leaders) personality and leadership style, which also shapes and influence employee´s perception of their group climate by making a direct impact on their interaction, make the hypothesis, although supported, to be incomplete. However this study gives important insights of the connection that intergroup interaction at the manger level has on employees perception of their group climate, and that it has to be considered as variable (although not the only one) that impacts employee´s work environment. The study also open several question for future research on the topic, such as which theory of intergroup interaction have a major impact on employee´s perception of their group climate?, How does the inter-group interaction of different leadership styles (at the manager level or between work units leaders) affects employee´s perception of organizational climate? And for last what is the effect of leaders personality on intergroup interaction and in employee´s perception of group climate.
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