Teamwork is the most important attribute which an organization can rely upon to achieve its objectives and goals. Even though the benefits of teamwork are innumerable, but many a times few members of the team are more than happy in pulling of their weights and relying on the other members to complete their share of responsibility. This gives rise to the so called, ‘Free-Rider Problem’. To explain as how bad the situation can turn, let us say that an entity has world class infrastructure and technology to produce its products, however, its employees are not willing to cooperate or work in a consented manner with the peers and believes in shirking their responsibilities. In that case, no matter how enormous is the capital investment, the entity will not be able to achieve its goals. Therefore, addressing all the issues relating to human resources and any free-rider problem existing in the organizational structure, should be the first priority of the owners.
As for my stay with my previous employer, I was a member of the team headed by the purchase manager where our responsibilities included:
Confirming their adherence to quality standards, such as ISO.
Sending supplier audit team at their workplace
Negotiating the deals
Finalizing the purchase
It was a five member team and all the aspects were looked after by me and my associates. However, it was the duty of purchase manager to evaluate the supplier audit outcome and then give final confirmation to the team for dealing with the supplier. While I did enjoyed the knowledge and the experience which each of the associate was sharing with me, but the agitation was related to the free-rider problem of the purchase manager, who was deviating the crucial responsibility of evaluating the supplier audit report to the associates only. This leisure attitude towards the work was expected to bring losses soon, and it did happened as the company lost an important client because the material sent was not as per his quality norms. Later it was found that the fault was in the raw material which was sourced from a new supplier. At the time of evaluation, the purchase manager blamed me and the other associates for not doing the work appropriately. This brought a great sense of de-motivation amongst the whole team.
Thereafter, owners soon realized that a free-rider problem was existing in the team, and they themselves took the responsibility of evaluating the supplier audit outcome to avoid such unwanted consequences in the future.
Indeed an interesting post, and truly knowledgeable to read. I never thought of a free rider problem in this perspective as I never faced any such situation. It was nice to see how your professor structured a kind of organizational hierarchy by organizing different individuals towards a group project. However, I am sure it must be annoying to have such adamant member in your team who wants to ride on others work or is just ignorant of the final outcome that may affect the whole group.
Short and succinct post. However, while I am sure that each one of us will be posting about our organizational experiences, your post will be a surprise element for everyone here. I indeed enjoyed reading about your activities at the summer camp and the organized team structure where you and your mates were allocated the tasks according to the skills held by each one of you, and how by the end the camp was successfully organized without anyone involved in the free-rider issue, which otherwise could have spoilt the whole experience.
Simple yet good post!
Brickley, S. a. (2009). Managerial Economics and Organizational Architecture. In Managerial Economics and Organizational Architecture (p. 218). New York: Mcgraw Hill.
Free Rider Problem. (2015, June 24). Retrieved from Investopedia: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/free_rider_problem.asp