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Leadership effects on group task satisfaction - an agent-based model
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posted on 14.02.2017by Prasad, Kaivalya
Given the prevalence of work groups in today’s organizations, studies on group effectiveness have flourished in the last few decades. It is imperative for groups to maintain a positive attitude in order for them to continually function effectively and efficiently. Group task satisfaction is one such attitudinal outcome which is the group-level counterpart to individual job satisfaction. Although group task satisfaction has been studied in the past, it has mostly been studied as an aggregate of job satisfaction perceived by members. Limited studies that have measured group task satisfaction directly at the group-level have done so at a specific instant of time. As attitudes are bound to evolve and change over time depending on the environment groups are exposed to, it is important to consider the dynamic nature of group task satisfaction. Further, the study of group attitudes is incomplete without the knowledge of the process by which group task satisfaction is influenced by various factors, leadership being one of the most important determinants.
This study demonstrates the application of computational modeling and simulation to study leadership influence on group task satisfaction. Agent-based modeling technique is used to model artificial work groups which are treated as a complex system. Group task, environmental, and process factors that influence group task satisfaction were identified from literature. The complex interplay of these key variables along with the influence of four different leadership styles – servant leadership, transformational leadership, paternalistic leadership, and Machiavellian leadership, was simulated to examine their effects on group task satisfaction. Experimental scenarios were designed by varying group profiles, task interdependence levels for each leadership style. The evolvement of group task satisfaction was observed over time. Comparisons of the results arising from different test scenarios were established.
Under the influence of paternalistic leadership, low profile groups with high task interdependence over time experienced a decline in the group task satisfaction. High profile groups with high task interdependence displayed stable levels of group task satisfaction under the influence of paternalistic leadership. All groups under the influence of paternalistic leadership were found to experience increased group task satisfaction when the task interdependence was low. Under the influence of servant and transformational leadership, high groups with high task interdependence attained the highest level of satisfaction over time among high, low, and mixed groups. High groups with high task interdependence were found to attain higher levels of satisfaction in lesser time under the influence of servant leadership in comparison to level of satisfaction attained under the influence of transformational leadership. Under the influence of Machiavellian leadership, all groups experienced a rapid decline in group task satisfaction, although high profile groups over time were found to stabilize their group task satisfaction level.
Agent-based modeling enabled the simulation of complex interplays between variables and observation of the development of group task satisfaction over time for different combinations of leadership style-group profile-task interdependence, which otherwise would have been a time consuming and tedious process using traditional methods.