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The difference between group work and team work

Kirjoittanut: Kiia Innanmaa - tiimistä Hurma.

Esseen tyyppi: Blogiessee / 1 esseepistettä.

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Essay published also on the Academic Adventures blog: http://academicadventures.fi/2019/03/07/the-difference-between-group-work-and-team-work/

For you to understand what I am about to explain in this blog post, I will have to tell you a little bit about myself, before I go to the actual topic at hand today.


I started my studies towards a bachelor’s degree in business back in 2016. I was accepted to study in the International Business program of Tampere University of Applied Sciences. We had normal lessons, a lot of group work, presentations, exams and other normal ways of studying we have gotten used to in Finnish schools. I had 69 classmates and probably more than 20 different groups with different people I worked in during the 2,5 years I spent in the International Business program.


The reason I applied for the International Business program was the ability to study in English and the fact that the program offered an option to specialize in entrepreneurship – my dream. January 2018 came, and the specialization period began. For me, that meant that I started studying at Proakatemia. Originally, we were supposed to study there for five months and then continue our normal International Business studies with exchange, practical training and eventually also write our theses.


For the first time ever, we started to talk about the difference between groups and teams. We, the International Business students at Proakatemia, called ourselves a team, although now I realize that we still were a group. When our five-month period was coming to an end, I applied for a transfer from the International Business program to Proakatemia and fortunately, I was granted the permission to continue my studies at Proakatemia.


Summer came and then, last August, I started with a new team. This is the first group of people I have been a part of during my studies that I can honestly call a team. After being a part of a genuine team for about a half a year now, I can tell you, what the difference between group work and team work is.


I believe that the most common definition of the difference between the two is the fact that a team always has a common goal the team members are working towards. This is also how DifferenceBetween.com defines team work and the main difference between teams and groups. A Group is a number of people together in work and a team is a number of people working together.


I partly agree, this is definitely a difference between the two, but I do not think that it is the main difference or the biggest difference. I think that the biggest, the main difference between team work and group work is trust.

Back in International Business courses or even before that, back in high school or in comprehensive school we were always given an assignment and a deadline. No one wanted or even thought of building team spirit or trust or setting a common goal or any of these things that now seem so self-evident, after being a part of an actual team. In these kinds of group work and school assignment type of situations there only was two possible outcomes: 1. dividing the work, each one doing their part in their own time and then somehow putting all of the separate parts into one at the end or 2. only one or two group members doing all of the work because they were the only ones who cared about the grade.


Now that I am a part of a team, everything comes down to trust. We are working hard to build a culture of trust, a culture of honesty (which can only happen, if there is trust) and a culture of direct feedback (which can only happen, if there is trust). We can share things we have never told anyone else, we can be vulnerable in front of our teammates. We can laugh, we can cry. A good portion of our weekly working schedule is just us being together, building trust, communicating through dialog and getting to know each other better.



DifferenceBetween.com. 2011. Difference Between Workgroup and Team. [Article]. Released on 26.03.2011. Read on 27.2.2019. https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-workgroup-and-vs-team/

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