For a variety of reasons, outcomes related to individual decision making versus group decision making vary considerably.These differences primarily stem from the social influences brought to bear on any group decision making, largely absent in individual decision making. Collaborative synergies often make group decisions more complete and robust, factoring influences that would otherwise have been excluded under individual considerations. Yet the collective psychology of the group can also produce less than desirable results, creating the need for considerable structure and guidelines that frame group decision-making outcomes. Without the proper chemistry and social influences, group decisions can often lead to potentially destructive outcomes. Overall decision quality often cannot be linked to the social nature of decision makers. Figure 1
Advantages of Group Decision Making:
Group decision making often benefits from two major natural advantages: synergy and sharing of information. Synergy relates to the idea that certain outcomes can only be achieved by many minds brought to bear on a certain decision-making process. One can liken synergy in group processes to achieving social economies of scope, whereby decision quality is improved as more minds are included.
The sharing of information among group members is another advantage of the group process, and if executed properly, it can lead to better informed decisions. The idea here is that group members all possess unique information beyond that which is known by everyone. By capturing unique information, group decision quality will reflect a more complete informational landscape. The natural tendency of groups is to overemphasize information which is shared. If unshared information can be unlocked then decision quality will improve.
Disadvantages of Group Decision Making:
There are a number of conditions that can destroy group decision quality. Achieving a workable balance of these conditions can be very difficult and is arguably the most disruptive force for group decision makers, and a precise recipe of conditions must be in place in order for group decision-making to be truly effective. These conditions extend to the variety of group members (homogeneity) as well as the formal systems in place that determine consensus and eventually the decision itself. If improperly considered, then the phenomenon known as groupthink can negatively influence overall decision quality.