Advantages and disadvantages of group decision making
This comprehensive article examines some of the advantages and disadvantages of group decision making. Collective decisions can be beneficial to work together when a group’s ideas are diverse, or when the group is more homogeneous. However, it can also lead to poor decisions if members do not trust each other.
What is group decision making?
Group decision making is a strategy that allows groups of people to come to a consensus on a particular topic. Group members are encouraged to participate in discussion by stating their opinions and suggestions on how they think the problems identified should be solved before reaching a consensus on what course of action is to be taken.
Group decisions can be used effectively when dealing with more complex topics such as financial planning, organisational structure changes, marketing strategies before implementation, and many other strategic decisions which need input from different people with diverse perspectives.
Examples of group decision making
The use of group decision making has been around for a long time. People often come together to decide on what food they should eat, where they should go on holiday etc. Organisations often make collective decisions on significant issues such as deciding on how businesses should run. Some examples of group decision making are as follows:
* All the departmental managers in an organisation have concluded that employees’ salary needs to be increased.
* A group of entrepreneurs decide on a new idea to develop a business around.
* A group of people would like to go on a hike and are trying to decide on the destination they are going to visit.
* A group of friends are trying to decide whether they should order pizza for dinner.
Advantages of group decision making
Group decision making has many advantages. It can help groups work together to make critical decisions when time is limited and when the group’s ideas are diverse. This type of decision-making can also lead to a better outcome if members trust each other and may have different opinions concerning the potential outcome of the decision.
According to Philips (2014) diversity can lead to better decision-making. If managers can bring people with different cultural backgrounds into the dialogue, they can gain new ideas and perspectives on the problems they are dealing with. They may even use group decision making as an opportunity for brainstorming new ideas.
When managers involve their team members in the decision-making process, they send them a clear signal of inclusion, and trust. This provides team members with a feeling that they are valued in the organisation which eventually enhances employee engagement and performance.
One of the major advantages of group decision is that the individual strengths of the group members are put together to explore solutions to the problems at hands. This denotes that a wide variety of skills and abilities have been put in the decision-making.
Disadvantages of group decision making
When group members are not trustworthy, dissenting opinions might be disregarded and less efforts are put into the decision. Additionally, if a group is not homogeneous, it may be more difficult for the members to reach an agreement.
One of the major disadvantages of group decision making is that it can lead to poor decisions. Many people often differ in their ideas and views which leads to conflict as well.
According to Emmerling and Rooders (2020) although more minds are often seen as better than one, larger pools of knowledge do not guarantee that better outcomes can be achieved. In fact, large groups are much more likely to make biased decisions. This is because they are likely to be swayed by passions and an unconscious bias, which leads them to make decisions without considering all the possibilities.
Applications of group decision making
When time is limited
If group decisions are made when time is limited, it is very important to give everyone enough time and space to share ideas and argue their point of view. However, the problem here is that people may not agree with each other and that could delay the whole decision-making process.
When the group’s ideas are diverse
Group decision making can also be beneficial when members have different opinions about how a decision is made. For example, if a company has five managers who all think differently about how the company should handle its finances, then with group decision making, these managers would be able to have their own opinions heard and decide on what steps would work best for them individually and as a team.
When the group is homogeneous
Group decision making can be beneficial when members have similar views about how they would like to come to a conclusion. As people have similar views, they can quickly explore possibilities and options before reaching a consensus.
Summary of the advantages and disadvantages of group decision making
Group decision making is a common practice in business, but it has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Whether a decision is made individually or collectively often depends on leadership style and organisational culture.
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Last update: 13 January 2023
Emmerling, T. & Rooders, D. (2020) 7 Strategies for better group decision-making, available at: https://hbr.org/2020/09/7-strategies-for-better-group-decision-making (accessed 09 February 2022)
Philips, K. (2014) How diversity makes us smarter, available at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/ (accessed 09 February 2022)
Author: M Rahman
M Rahman writes extensively online and offline with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.