Do many hands make light work? How to overcome social loafing and gain motivation in work teams

Rolf van Dick, Patrick A. Tissington, Guido Hertel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to challenge the assumption that process losses of individuals working in teams are unavoidable. The paper aims to challenge this assumption on the basis of social identity theory and recent research. Design/methodology/approach – The approach adopted in this paper is to review the mainstream literature providing strong evidence for motivation problems of individuals working in groups. Based on more recent literature, innovative ways to overcome these problems are discussed. Findings – A social identity-based analysis and recent findings summarized in this paper show that social loafing can be overcome and that even motivation gains in group work can be expected when groups are important for the individual group members' self-concepts. Practical implications – The paper provides human resource professionals and front-line managers with suggestions as to how individual motivation and performance might be increased when working in teams. Originality/value – The paper contributes to the literature by challenging the existing approach to reducing social loafing, i.e. individualizing workers as much as possible, and proposes a team-based approach instead to overcome motivation problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-245
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Business Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2009


  • employee behaviour
  • motivation
  • psychology
  • team working


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