Max, Jasmine, Andrew and Nick all work for the same Australian university. Currently, the university they work for is under a vast amount of pressure as new government regulations dictate that all higher education institutions must now seek most of their financial support from industry. Such support will be vital for the ongoing success of universities’ research initiatives. The university that Max, Jasmine, Andrew and Nick work for prides itself on its research success across all Faculties.
The four employees have been placed in a group which will be responsible for the development of a plan detailing how the university should best approach industry in order to gain greater financial support. Although they do not know each other as they all work in different positions across the university, they have been placed in this group by the university’s Vice-Chancellor as they each have an area of expertise deemed essential for the development of such a plan. The group will need to make some difficult decisions along the way.
The group members all react differently to the news that they will be working together. Initially, Max is very excited. He sees his involvement in the group as an opportunity for him to show his leadership skills and gain promotion. Andrew, on the other hand, is hesitant as he would prefer to work alone rather than as a member of a group. Jasmine is unsure as to what she has to offer while Nick is happy to do whatever he is told.
When the group meets for the first time, Max tells the group that they need a leader and that he is the best person for the job. The other group members are so surprised that they do not know what to say. Max then goes on to inform the group that they should not waste any time getting to know each other and that all they need to do is to focus on the task at hand. Nick can see conflict arising between Max and Andrew which he believes will make it difficult for them to work together productively but he does not know how to handle this situation. Nick decides that he will just leave it up to the other group members to tell him what to do. Further, Nick’s approach is to agree with any decision the majority puts forward. When Jasmine makes some suggestions that may be used to gain financial support from industry, these are rejected by Max without any discussion. As a consequence, she decides that she will oppose any suggestions made by the other group members. When the group is interrupted by a visit from the Vice-Chancellor who asks them about their progress and decisions, they just look at each other and are not sure how to respond.
How could better group dynamics have been achieved?