After reading this article you will learn about the merits and limitations of group decision-making.
Merits of Group Decision-Making:
Group decision-making has the following merits:
(a) Pooling of information:
Group members collect extensive information and decisions are, therefore, more scientific and accurate. Members pool their knowledge and arrive at decision alternatives which a single individual could not have thought of. This results in better quality of decisions than individual decision-making.
(b) Commitment to decisions:
Group members make decisions through group thinking and are, therefore, committed to implement them. It results in positive attitude of members towards each other and develops spirit of cooperation amongst the group members. People develop a sense of ownership to the decision. They, thus, own the decision. They ‘own’ the problem, the decision and its implementation. Ownership results in commitment and quality decisions.
(c) Increase in morale:
Continuous interaction with superiors promotes morale and job satisfaction of subordinates. This increases communication and coordination amongst the activities of group members. People learn from each other’s experience and become equipped to manage the problem-solving situations even in the absence of some members from the decision situation.
(d) Creativity and innovativeness:
It promotes creativity and innovative abilities of subordinates to make quality decisions. Group decision-making encourages new and better ideas. People offer constructive suggestions to implement quality decisions. They represent their views, which might otherwise go unheard. Deviations are made from past precedents and new ideas are offered.
(e) Risk taking:
Individuals may not take some decisions because they are risky. Such decisions are taken by the group as a whole. Group members share information and take risky decisions which are profitable. They become familiar with the problem, extensively discuss the outcomes of decisions and deal with the risky situations in a constructive way.
(f) Diverse views:
Group decision-making offers diverse viewpoints of various members of the group. Collective thinking is different from individual thinking. Sales manager wants to increase sales by employing more salesmen and increasing budgetary allocations on advertisement. Finance manager, on the other hand, may not increase costs by paying more salaries and spending more on advertisements. Together finance manager and sales manager can arrive at a solution acceptable to both.
(g) Team spirit:
When members of a group make decisions jointly, they work as a team and respect each other’s view point.
(h) Exploitation of talent:
Group decision-making exploits talent of group members and promotes their creativity. Members offer suggestions, which they may not otherwise think of.
(i) Expert opinion:
Expert opinion of specialists on subjects like law, accounts, tax, finance etc. promotes the quality of decisions on the related subjects.
(j) Soundness of organisation:
Group decision-making increases the soundness of organisations by making right, cost-effective and quality decisions acceptable to all the organisational members.
Limitations of Group Decision-Making:
It is “a process whereby, in response to social pressures, individuals go along with a decision even when they do not agree with it and, in order to avoid conflicts, do not even voice their reservations”.
Group decision-making suffers from the following limitations:
It is costly and more time consuming than individual decision-making. Group decisions are based on extensive information collected by different members. It takes time and money to collect the information, arrange for meetings, discussions and arrive at consensus of relevance of different aspects of information for decision-making. Individual decisions, on the other hand, can be taken faster.
Some members accept group decisions even when they do not agree with them in order to avoid conflicts. Sometimes, group members do not arrive at consensus because of conflict of opinion. In such cases, decisions reflect compromises rather than consensus. Members agree to group decisions even when they think otherwise. In individual decision- making, however, decisions are more conforming and exact.
(c) Inter-personal conflicts:
Sometimes, groups do not arrive at any decision. Disagreement and disharmony amongst group members leads to conflicts.
(d) Social pressures:
Some group members dominate others to agree to their view point. Social pressures lead to acceptance of alternatives which all group members do not agree to. If a person senior in age, experience or knowledge thinks differently from others, the group members may agree to him. The decision, thus, reflects the opinion of a few which may not have the desired impact on the decision outcome.
(e) Conflicting goals:
If there is conflict between group goals and organisational goals, group decisions promote group goals even if they are against the interest of the organisation.
(f) Fixing responsibility:
In case group decisions fail to achieve their purpose, no one takes the responsibility for failure. A group decision is generally no one’s decision and in such a situation, group members do not feel committed to implementation of decision.
Groups often create groupism. When a group has large number of members, small groups are created within the larger group. If one of these small groups is dominant, it may create pressure on other smaller groups to agree to their view point. Decisions are, therefore, truly not group decisions.
Though cost of group decision-making is more than individual decision-making, its benefits outweigh the costs and enable the managers to make better decisions.