Social loafing describes the tendency of individuals to put forth less effort when they are part of a group. Because all members of the group are pooling their effort to achieve a common goal, each member of the group contributes less than they would if they were individually responsible.
At rope pulling exercise:
- When working alone, an average person exerted 63kg of force
- In group of three, an average person exerted 53kg of force
- In groups of eight, an average person exerted 31kg of force
Source: Ringelmann (1913); Kravitz and Martin (1986)
The major reason is the diffusion of responsibility, we expect somebody else to take responsibility.
How to manage social loafing:
- Use smaller teams
- Address early
- Assign meaningful tasks
- Assign unique roles
- Make individual contributions identifiable
- Use hybrid (team-individual) reward structures
- Invest in relationship formation in teams