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Melbourne Business School News Podcast: How to stop cliques getting too powerful in the workplace

Podcast: How to stop cliques getting too powerful in the workplace

Friendly relationships at work are usually a good thing, but there can be a dark side if groups start excluding others, says Professor Isabel Metz.

"The problem of cliques arises when those groups become powerful, too cohesive and exclude others," she says.

"When this occurs, members in these groups tend to over value their own characteristics and almost unconsciously sometimes devalue the characteristics of members in the outside group."

Professor Metz spoke with Yasmin Rupesinghe on the latest episode of the Melbourne Business School Podcast about her research into what she calls the "dark side" of human capital, which creates challenges for everyone involved, including a lack of diversity and opening the door to negative emotions entering professional relationships.

"There are several psychological theories that predict that individuals will feel attracted to one another and that attraction is usually based on salient characteristics, such as where they got their education from, gender or what degree they obtained.

"The problem is that these categorisations are not evaluatively neutral. They have a value. First, people favour their own categories. Why do we do that? Well, we know that people are motivated to enhance and maintain a positive self-image, a positive identity.

"If they belong to a group, they exaggerate the good points of the group because they belong to that group, therefore, they have all these good characteristics and they exaggerate between group differences in order to enhance self and the group."

Listen to the full episode above or visit our podcasts page for more.

Isabel Metz is a Professor of Organisational Behaviour whose research in human resource management has been published in the Journal of Business Ethics, Human Resource Management, International Journal of Human Resource Management and elsewhere. Visit her faculty profile for more information.

Yasmin is a Program Manager on our Executive MBA and Senior Executive MBA programs, and a radio presenter for PBS FM.

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