Mary is an accounting student and is part of a group consisting of Chris, Qin and Arvin, in Professor Soffer’s accounting class. Professor Soffer has asked the class to form groups of five to work on cases during the semester. The students will be evaluated on those cases and approximately 20% of their final mark will depend on their group performance.
There are some students who are not in groups for a variety of reasons including that they are new to the class. Professor Soffer has assigned these students to the various groups that have four or fewer members so that every student will be part of a group. Professor Soffer tells Mary, Chris, Qin and Arvin that Steve has been assigned to their group as part of this arbitrary allocation of nonassigned individuals.
Mary and the group meet without Steve and, led by Chris, decide that they do not want to work with Steve. The group feels that Steve will not make an equal contribution to the group effort; he is very quiet and doesn’t seem very bright, at least, not as bright as they think they are. As a consequence of these views, the members are not inclined to accept Steve into their group. They select Mary to tell Professor Soffer that they don’t want Steve in their group and that Professor Soffer is going to have to assign someone else to their group and assign Steve to another group.
Mary goes to speak to Professor Soffer as requested. The professor tells Mary that the group does not have a choice, that Steve needs to be in a group for the case work and that he will remain a member of their group. Professor Soffer adds that she knows Steve to be hard working and that he is as able as the other members of the class. She also adds that the students have to learn to work in groups whose membership may not always be of their own choosing.
Mary calls the group minus Steve and tells them what Professor Soffer has said. Chris responds, "I don’t like Steve. I’m not working with him. As far as I’m concerned, even though Professor Soffer says that he is part of the group, I refuse to attend meetings with him. Perhaps we can freeze him out that way, we can let him know that he’s not wanted."
Imagine yourself in Mary’s shoes. How would you resolve the dilemma?