To test this by manipulating time allowance or even

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Unformatted text preview: wance – failed to yield a reduction in the productivity gap between real and nominal groups. Research shows that a good, highly-trained group facilitator can help reduce the blocking problem. One recent study showed that a brainstorming group that had a highly trained facilitator outperformed not only groups with a less-trained (or untrained) facilitator but also nominal groups of individuals working alone (Oxley, Dzindolete and Paulus 1996). Why Do Firms Carry on Brainstorming? Most textbooks seem reluctant to discuss the damning research which explains how and why brainstorming does not deliver. There are several possible reasons why brainstorming has not fallen out of favour in the business community. Because brainstorming groups overestimate their own productivity? Or because of the use of group facilitators which has genuinely been found to help interactive group performance? In this section we look at how brainstorming can work – if at all – and in what circumstances. Let us start with Durham and Pierce (1989): “How well does brainstorming work in practice? Compared to more traditional group processes, brainstorming works quite well. The number of quality ideas is better, and costs per idea generated tend to be more favorable. Through the brainstorming process group members tend to focus on the task at hand, and, as a result, interpersonal conflict and pressures toward conformity decline. In addition, ideas generated by group members are likely to be accepted by the group. “Unfortunately the aspects of brainstorming that help make it successful also create some problems. Because ideas are not evaluated, at the end of a brainstorming session the only product is a list of ideas. There is no plan, there is no solution, and the initial problem still exists. This lack of closure can create dissatisfaction among participants, especially when someone else (a manager of another group) evaluates the ideas that the brainstorming group has generated. “Many organizations use brainstorming because it appears to have many advantages in comparison to traditional group decision making and only a few drawbacks. There is some evidence, however, that individuals “brainstorming” alone would generate more and better quality ideas than they would in a brainstorming group. Even in a relaxed atmosphere, the presence of others may still inhibit the quantity and creativity of ideas generated by brainstorming group members. “Individual brainstorming is helpful in some situations, group brainstorming in others. A group session encourages each member to devote the necessary time to idea generation, and, because group sessions are often more enjoyable than solitary work, they can create an esprit de corps and satisfy people’s social needs. Group sessions remind each member that others have many good ideas, and they can improve group commitment to ideas and increase communication within the group. When these factors are important, managers may use brains...
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