Behavior of Committees


Committees are formally constituted bodies characterized by periodic, intermittent, or temporary rather than continuous functioning. Purposes for conducting a committee meeting almost always include an objective of gaining or maintaining inter-group coordination and/or cooperation. Staff or subgroup meetings have analogous purposes on the group level of analysis.

 

Committees integrate organizational behavior vertically in the authority hierarchy and/or horizontally across group boundaries. Committees may function primarily as a formal communications medium for one-way dissemination of information from above at one extreme all the way to omni-directional informational sharing (e.g., new projects, problems, etc.) at the other. Two other common committee functions are problem solving (e.g., performing a technical design, cost and schedule feasibility assessment) or decision making (e.g., adjusting and approving departmental overhead budgets for the upcoming three months).

 

There are both advantages and disadvantages to employing committees for any, or any combination, of these functions. The net effectiveness is emergent and is no doubt influenced by the nature of the tasks to be performed, the time available, the people involved, and primary task groups represented as well as other situational factors.

 

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