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Social Loafing- a Learning Contract

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BUSM2301 Introduction to Organizational Behavior

Learning Contract C


Course: BUSM 2301. Group Number: 10. Full name: Linh, Dang Binh Phuong. Student ID: s3210262. Words Count: 1,995.


I. INTRODUCTION 3 II. LEARNING IN ACTIONS - FINDINGS - ANALYSIS AND EVALUATION: 3 1. Observation: 3 2. Apply theories: 4 2.1 - Applied theory of "Specializing the tasks": 4 2.2 - Applied theory of " Establish task importance along with highlight achievement": 5 3. Interview 6


After doing research and review on Social Loafing at LCB, in this LCC, I would like to present what actions and strategies I have used and applied based on theories about this topic as well as making interviews in order to achieve my learning goal. Moreover, I would like to analyze and evaluate the results of what I have done based on the detail action plan introduced at LCB. Finally, in the conclusion I will point out what I have learnt, how effective my learning contract is and what I should do to improve it in the next time stage.
While looking through the Social Loafing literature review (LCB) to get better and thorough understanding about my topic, I decided to take following actions to fulfill my understanding on Social Loafing as well as to reach my desired learning goal.

1. Observation:

To me, observation is the very first means through which we can learn and define things more exactly. Moreover, it can help us shape and improve our own mental model which suits this modern society. That is the reason why I keep observing my Organizational Behavior workgroup's syndicates, my team members as well as other teams in different courses like Business Frameworks (both formal teams and informal groups).
I tried to observe how people work together, what kind of problems usually occur in team work, how they deal with problems in team (I could just observe within school environment) and based on those findings, I could take them for myself as worthy experiences and even as future guidelines when working with people. < Findings, analysis and evaluation: Through observing and taking notes, I could say that social loafing usually occurs in such 1) teams that do not have clear tasks division (in our studying environment) and in some 2) cohesive teams where team members were so close together (they often formed cohesive informal groups as well), they tend to do the loafer's divided part unconditionally to get the job done.
Invisible task was the most common issue leading to social loafing in working teams at school, especially when the teams had to perform ML or SD role which usually including many required tasks. Usually, team leaders just mentioned in general what tasks they had to perform but usually forget about dividing them to certain members at the end of each meeting. That was the reason why members within team were not sure about the part they had to prepare and started to loaf, especially in cases of having too much assignments and examinations on other subjects in the same week.
Frankly speaking, once we get used to the tasks in OB class and once the tasks were on track, things become somehow easy to perform that they do not require the contribution of all the team members to be done. Sometimes I went with other OB teams when I have to due assignment on school-off days, I noticed that all team members did not attend the group meeting, sometimes one or two members had private problems, they just phoned the team leader and then the rest of the team would willingly do their parts.
This finding had led me to the next step: applying the researched theories.

2. Apply theories:

According to my observations at school, there are two typical reasons for social loafing to occur: invisible tasks and too cohesive teams - this later finding is somehow strange and far from my research (although the later issue did not affect team effectiveness very much, it probably caused bad habit to individuals). So, I chose two theories to apply right on my team works as below:

2.1 - Applied theory of "Specializing the tasks":

As a leader, I am responsible for dividing the tasks to team members. In fact, for I have interest in this issue and had some research right in week 3 when we chose our own topic. So, in the very first weeks after week 3, I tried to arrange at least 2 meetings for the team, a fixed one on Saturday afternoon at 2p.m. when everybody had finished the last class of the day, and the other one which would be arranged later based on the fixed meeting result. At first, when one of our members showed signs of social loafing (Nam), he kept missing team meetings, so our team decided to fine him 50000 VND for each meeting absence but it seem did not really work out.

In weeks we performed RG or AD role, the tasks were quite simple. Each member took turn to write the report for the weeks while others sent their own notes to the one in charge. Next, certain member in team would be in charge of checking the citation and reference (most of the time Hien did the job). Then, one member would edit the last stage (Dung was responsible for this stage). However, in weeks that we had to play ML or SD role, the necessary of discussion among members had drove me a little bit crazy to think about way of dealing with Nam. First, we arranged to meet online through Yahoo Messenger, but sometimes the "conference" function did not work (everyone all knows that Yahoo goes crazy sometimes) so it caused trouble with chatting online. Next, we decided that after finishing our own tasks, each member will email the result to the rest of the team. However, one of us could not use the internet at home, so the progress also encountered difficulty. Lastly, we had to solve it by require all the members to read the lesson materials and thinking about some activities before arranging team discussion to lessen the discussing time, so we just needed to meet at school after the last class in whatever day that we chose and everyone knew exactly what his or her had to prepare and contribute for each meeting. Nam also participated for he knew about his task and could save his time (that was the reason he missed previous meeting). Therefore, each member's contribution was easier to see when each team member perform a different work activity (McShane & Travaglione, 2007) and when people knew exactly what they were going to do, things went more smoothly.

2.2 - Applied theory of " Establish task importance along with highlight achievement":

I also tried to let my team members take turns experiencing leader role. I think if they have a chance to stand up as a leader, they will automatically feel responsible for the job they would do and therefore leader's duty would become understandable and be sympathetic. It might probably be a good chance for everyone to see the importance of each individual's contribution in working team as well as give each of us a chance to see and practice in every role in team. (Findings, analysis and evaluation:
Besides some members who were eager to the decision and willingly gave it a try, Hien - one of us - felt scary with the leader's position for he was inexperienced. He had to follow the decision anyway. Dung was the next leader and her perfect performance was a large encouragement to the rest. We took turns leading and following each other. I was very pleased to see that the decision has worked and it also helped bringing us closer, helped every member learn to respect each other (especially the leader of the week) and all members seem contributed more enthusiastically. The result of this was the good feedbacks that we received from the tutor and other team members about the creative, unusual and different activities from other teams. Leader of the week would have been absolutely proud about this and also received warm congratulation from the team. Hien also did very well due to our team encouragement (he belongs to the typical type of working under pressure that we have to force him to do hard job). I really appreciated this achievement for it helped me realize that I did find one right way to reduce social loafing in my team.

3. Interview

All actions that I took above were just visible and limited within school environment. I want to broaden my understanding and knowledge about handling with this uncomfortable issue, so I had decided to interview some of my classmates who had experiences in the working places. Below was one of my typical interview result with Mr. Doan Chi Thanh - one of my classmates who is working at Nam Viet corporation (main brand is in An Giang province).

< Findings, analysis and evaluation: Social loafing in real work place is more difficult and sensitive to handle than in school environment and in theory. In Vietnam, in large company like Nam Viet, most power holding positions are occupied by those who have close relationship with members of board managers. Therefore social loafing is more likely to occur among those people who seat in leading positions (usually, they are not deserved with their seats) and it is very hard to be reduced. In real working environment, in case social loafing does not affect much to the company outputs and effectiveness, people tend to turn blind eyes to it. In cases which the issue badly affects the organization, getting rid of them is the only way to solve the problem (Lanate, Williams and Harkins, 1997). This interview was really helpful for me to see different aspect of social loafing in real working situation in my country where the relationships talk.
I can say that, doing learning contracts in OB has a very important meaning in my life. In the course, I had opportunities to practice dealing with social loafing, although it was just around school environment, it also was a very worthy lesson for me. I feel somehow confident that I can deal with social loafing in the future after this course. Or at least I can have enough motivation and encouragement from this experience to put effort in the future. I realize that in real life, social loafing styles are very varied far from my research. They can lie under sensitive society states and it is really such an uncomfortable issue that we can not deal with by just simply applying the theories but by combining many methods including effective communication, quick and exact observation, patience as well as certain level of emotional intelligence.
Through doing these actions, I can see that I need more practice and do more research to master the key. This course was my luck because I could meet responsible partners and all of team members are younger than me. It might be the reason my words worked a little bit. In case I encounter naughty and irresponsible partners or with elder people, I have to hit the work in a different way. That is also the bad luck to me that I could not face the most challenging aspect of the issue.
However, in similar situations, I am so sure that I will apply the same theories and methods because I find them very effective and I am also able to take advantage of this to open my relationship to a wide range of people.
Through this experience and also through potential future experiences of dealing with social loafing, I think I can improve my mental model (O'Connor & McDermott, 1997) to become adaptable and suitable with changing modern society as well.
IV. REFERENCE - Latane, B, Williams, K & Harkins, S1997, 'The Causes and Consequences of Social Loafing', Many Hands Make Light The Work, JPSP, 37, 822-832. - McShane, S & Travaglione, T 2007, Organizational Behaviour on the Pacific Rim, 2nd edn, McGraw-Hill, Australia. - O'Connor, J & McDermott, I 1997, The Art of System Thinking, Thorson, London.…...

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