Increasing Productivity through Social Structure.
Final project rept.,
NORTH CAROLINA UNIV AT CHAPEL HILL INST FOR RESEARCH IN SOCIAL SCIENCE
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Social loafing is the tendency for participants who share responsibilility for carrying out a task to exert less effort than when they alone are responsible for carrying out the same task. It has obvious and important implications for motivation, learning and training, memory, information processing, decision making, and productivity--all phenomena of interest to complex, modern organizations. The research reported on here was conducted in the context of this custom-designed, computer-based, telecommunicating on-going work organization of 96 military-age part-time employees in other words, 18-22 year-olds were hired to work several hours a week for a year in front of computer terminals, communicating with each other and with their supervisors only by machine. Pretesting had shown this setting to be well suited for answering questions about social loafing as well as questions about the effect of mediating human interaction through a computer. The collection of data was accomplished during the 1983-84 academic year. Fundings indicate that social loafing occurs in tests requiring mental effort as well as tests requiring physical effort, and in standing as well as in groups. Moreover, the electronic mediation used in this research does not seem to overcome social loafing. Other findings suggest that task characteristics and other manipulable factors such as incentive structures can have important effects on loafing.