Cohesiveness: Getting the Team Spirit

One obvious determinant of any group’s structure is its cohesiveness—the strength of group members’ desires to remain part of their group. Highly cohesive work groups are ones in which the members are attracted to one another, accept the group’s goals, and help work toward meeting them. In very uncohesive groups, the members dislike each other and may even work at cross-purposes. In essence, coheviseness refers to a we-feeling an esprit de corps, a sense of belonging to a group.

Several important factors have been shown to influence the extent to which group members tend to “stick together.” One such factor involves the severity of initiation into the group. The greater the difficulty people overcome to become a member of a group, the more cohesive the group will be. To understand this, consider how highly cohesive certain group may be that you have worked hard to join. Was it particularly difficult to “make the cut” on your sports team? The rigorous requirements for gaining entry into elite groups, such as the most prestegious medical schools and military training schools, may well be responsible for the high degree of camaraderie found in such groups. Having “passed the test” tends to keep individuals together and separates them from those who are unwilling or unable to “pay the price” of admission.

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