As an unpredictable human action, multiple factors both
internal and external are complicatedly tried to understand, anticipate and
enhance human performance. As such, it is not rational to concentrate on any
one activity, mechanism, or variable as being responsible for all the internal
and external concerns that enhance or impede human performance.
In any sport or discipline, the terms group and cohesion are
intertwined; if a group exists, it has to be cohesive to some extent.
Cohesion can be defined as a dynamic process that is
reflected in the tendency for a group to stick together and remain united in
the pursuit of its instrumental objectives and/or for the satisfaction of
members affective needs.
This definition, which represent a slight modification of
the one originally introduced by Carron (1982), explicitly highlights the
nature of cohesiveness as it manifested in most groups.
Furthermore, the above definition highlight that cohesion is
multidimensional. There are many factors that cause any group to stick together
and remain united and those factors may not be present in equal weight and
intensity in another apparently identical group.
A second property emphasized by this definition is that
cohesion is dynamic, that means is not as transitory a state but neither is it
as stable as a trait. Cohesion in a group can (and does) change over time so
that the factor(s) contributing to cohesion early in a group’s history may or
may not be critical for example when the group is well developed.
A third property that the above definition is intended to
highlight is the instrumental nature of cohesion that is all groups form for a
Moreover, in the past decades, the increase of teams and work groups within an
organization or club has aroused a particular interest between sport
psychologist; it is also not surprising that numerous authors and experts have
attempted to define and measure cohesion in order to achieve the best benefits
possible, unfortunately, it is difficult to measure a theoretical construct,
which is by definition an abstraction and, therefore, not directly observable.
However, this executive summary and the intervention
protocol that follows seek to better understand the influence and relationship of
group cohesion on team performance in sports. This will be achieved through
understanding how internal processes interact with external demands and
There is a relatively large body of literature on
the relationship between group cohesion and team success disciplines,
including: sports, organizational behavior, industrial psychology, and
management (Carron, Bray, &
Eys, 2002; Devine, Clayton, Phillips, Dunford, & Melner, 1999; Sawyer &
Guinan, 1998; Straus, 1999). Yang and Tang (2004)
The study of group cohesion in sport and its relationship to
team effectiveness has had a long, rich tradition…..
relationship between group cohesion and team success has been widely explored
(e.g., Carron &
Chelladurai, 1981; Landers & Lüschen, 1974; Lenk, 1969). Mullen and Copper (1994) carried out
meta-analysis of 49 studies of diverse teams (e.g., military, sport,
commercial) and concluded that the relationship between group cohesion and team
performance was explicitly positive. This finding was replicated in more recent
works (Beal et al., 2003; Evans
& Dion, 2012), which also found a positive relationship between
group cohesion and team performance. This makes sense when one considers that
high group cohesion represents many trusted relationships (over which
knowledge, resources, and opportunities can flow) within the group and it is
these trusted relationships that can generate greater performance. Similarly,
increases in performance can lead to higher levels of group cohesion as success
in turn breeds collegiality. But what of the Dark Side of Social
Capital theory: can a team have too much cohesion? Can group cohesion
reach a point after which returns diminish? Lechner et al. (2010)Dark Side of Social Capital theory
suggests that, in social networks, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing,
i.e., when correlating social network measures with performance an inverse U
relationship is often found. Put another way, an optimal amount of group
cohesion will exist, at which point performance will be maximized. Too little
or too much past that optimal point will lead to decreased team performance.
Too little cohesion will result in a team riddled with structural holes. These
structural holes might serve to undermine the transfer of knowledge,
opportunity or resources. On the other side of optimal, too much group cohesion
may require extraordinary personal efforts to maintain and may lead to
groupthink undermining the friction required to spur innovation (Langfred, 2004).
From a historical perspective, the instrument that has had
the most significant impact on cohesion research in sport psychology is the
Martens et al. (1972) Sport cohesiveness questionnaire (SCQ). It was the first inventory
to have a specific sport orientation and the 7-item SCQ assesses team cohesion
through group members ratings of friendship ( interpersonal attraction),
personal power or influence, enjoyment, closeness, teamwork, sense of
belonging, and perceived value of membership. The 7 items have been considered independently
(Arnold & Straub, 1973) and in categories where the combinations of them
were assumed to be conceptually meaningful (Carron & Chelladurai, 1981). A strength
of the SCQ is its multidimensional perspective; one limitation, however, is
that with the exception of the teamwork item, the task and social bases for
unity are confounded. Also, as Gill (1977) noted, the SCQ may possess face
validity, but published evidence for its reliability and other forms of
validity is not available.