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Dealing With Shirkers Case Study Answers

Dilemma Summary

  • This dilemma is discussing one of the serious issue that most commonly a group faces is “Social Loafing”
  • Ways to avoid “social loafing”

What Does “social loafing”   mean?

“Social loafing” describes the tendency of individuals to put forth less effort when they are part of a group. Each member of the group contributes less than they would if they were individually responsible”

These individuals are called shirkers.

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Experiment by Max Ringlemann

  • In this experiment, participants pulled on a rope attached to a strain gauge.

Max noted that two individuals pulling the rope only exerted 93% of their individual efforts.

A group of three individuals exerted 85% and groups of eight exerted 49% of their combined individual effort. As more individuals pulled on the rope, each individual exerted less efforts.

Max determined that individuals perform below their potential when working in a group

Dealing With Shirkers Case Study

Its two common concepts are:

(1) Free-rider effect

Where some members do not put efforts in their work under the assumption that others’ efforts will cover their shortfall.

(2) Sucker effect

Where the other (fully performing) members lower their efforts in response to the free-riders’ attitude.

Causes of Social Loafing

  • Lack of evaluation:

Loafing begins or is strengthened in the absence of an individual evaluation structure imposed by the environment (Price & Harrison, 2006).

For example, a member of a sales team will loaf when sales of the group are measured rather than individual sales efforts.

  • Equitable contribution:

Team members believe that others are not putting forth as much effort as they are putting. Since they feel that the others in the group are slacking, they lessen their efforts too. This causes a downward cycle that ends at the point where only the minimum amount of work is performed.

  • Unequal distribution of compensation

In the workplace, compensation is in the form of rewards,bonuses or positive feedback. If an individual believes compensation has not been allotted equally amongst group members, he will withdraw his individual efforts

  • Non-cohesive group:

A group functions effectively when members have bonded and created high-quality relationships. If the group is not cohesive, members are more prone to social loafing since they are not concerned about letting down their teammates

Ways to avoid social loafing

  • Identifiability

Divide the tasks & responsibility so that each person has his or her own individual deliverables that are easy to measure and evaluate.

  • Diversity

It’s important to create a group with members that have varying  skills and performance abilities in order to avoid social loafing.

  • Group size

The research shows that increased group size was related to increased social loafing. Keep group size to a minimum so that it’s easier to account for everyone’s work. The larger the group, the more each individual can hide behind its size.

  • Group cohesiveness

Several researches also indicate that increasing the group’s cohesiveness helps to avoiding social loafing. This means that the members of your group should like each other and want to work together to pursue the same goals. They should experience a feeling of unity that makes them feel that slacking off would let down the rest of the group.

Dealing With Shirkers Case Study Answers

Question 1:

If group members end u “working around” shirkers, do you think information should be communicated to the instructor so that individual’s contribution to the project is judged more fairly? If so, does the group have an ethical responsibility to communicate this to the shirking group members? If not, isn’t the shirking group member unfairly reaping the reward of a “free ride?

Answer:  The information should be communicated to the instructor

  • Develop rules of conduct
  • Establish individual accountability
  • Create appropriate group sizes
  • Specifically define the task
  • Establish task importance
  • Evaluate progress


Do you think confronting the shirking group member is justified? Does this depend on the skills of the shirker (whether he is capable of doing good-quality work)?


Private confrontation: The team leader or a selected team member should confront the social loafer individually. Additionally, the loafer should be encouraged to participate and understand the importance of his contributions.

Group confrontation: The entire group can address the problem to the dissenting team member and specifically address the problem(s) they have observed. They should attempt to resolve the problem and refrain from deleterious attacks on the slacking individual.

Superior assistance: After trying to address the problem with the individual both privately and as a group, group members should seek the advice of a superior, whether it be a teacher, boss or other authority figure. Where possible, group members should provide documented evidence of the loafing engaged by the individual (De Vita, 2001). The person in authority can directly address the problem with the lackluster team.


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