Social loafing, HR Management

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According to Latané (1981), the very nature of groups allows certain individuals to contribute less to the group outcome than they would have had they been working alone. Latané, Williams and Harkins (1979) claimed that larger group sizes encourage social-loafing, no matter how willing members may be. Another problem identified by scholars is free riding. This is a more opportunistic form of social loafing in which the group member at hand reaps the benefits of the group outcome with no cost to him/herself (Ballantine & McCourt-Larres 2007).

In a review of studies in social loafing, Karau and Williams (1993) found that individuals are more likely to engage in social loafing when they expect their co-workers to perform well, when they work on tasks that they perceive as not meaningful, when a group-level comparison standard is not available, when they work with strangers and when their inputs to the collective outcome are redundant. Social loafing can be minimised when outputs can be evaluated individually, when employees work on inspiring tasks or when they work with friends. When that is not possible, providing performance feedback has been found to prevent social loafing (Kerr & Bruun 1983; Wegge & Haslam 2005).


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