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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 represents 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 purpose. Moreover, in the past decades, the increase of teams and workgroups 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 environmental stimuli.
Main body: 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.
The 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 a 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 sports psychology is the Martens et al. (1972) Sports cohesiveness questionnaire (SCQ). It was the first inventory to have a specific sports 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 are not available.
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