An examination of socially destructive behaviors in group work

Lynne Freeman, Luke Greenacre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


With the increasing prevalence of group work in marketing courses there is a need to consider the impact of students' social dynamics on both learning and satisfaction outcomes. This article explores one such dynamic at both intra- and intergroup levels. Using data generated from multiple sources, it was identified that students who are actively contributing to group processes have difficulty distinguishing between students, and indeed groups, that are socially loafing and those that are genuinely struggling with the material. As a consequence, the struggling students are subject to incidences of socially destructive behaviors, critically harming their ability to develop. This has the potential to harm not only the individual struggling student and their group but also burden the other members of the class with a class member that will never be able to meaningfully contribute. Using social interdependence theory, a framework is proposed to explain how this confusion among contributing students arises. Recommendations are made regarding how to design curriculum so as to minimize the incidence of this phenomenon as well as intervention strategies to mitigate its effect should it present.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-17
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Marketing Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • loafing
  • project
  • reflexive
  • social
  • struggling

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