Planning—Determining goal structure
I wanted to address a rather critical difference between CNL groups and the traditional educational and work worlds. In a CNL group the members share a cooperative goal structure. The cooperative structures contrast with two other structures--competitive and individualistic. Here are the differences to consider.
• A cooperative goal structure is the desired norm for CNL. The Johnson bothers have been writing about and researching these differences as a major focus of their academic and publishing careers. In a cooperative group members see a positive cor¬relation among group members' goal attainments- that is, they perceive that they can achieve their goal if and only if the other members with whom they are linked obtain their goal. I think it is important to add the concept of interdependence here as well. For example, when a group lifts a heavy object or members of a software development team integrate and debug a new application, all members experience the success.
• Competitive goal are not as effective for CNL. In a competitive situation, there is a negative correlation; members perceive that they can obtain their goals only if other members fail to obtain their goal. We create winners and we create losers but don’t really create a cohesive group working toward a common, shared goal.
• The individualistic goal structure is inappropriate for CNL. In contrast to these two group goal structures is the individu¬alistic goal structure common in many learning environments. The individual is rewarded for his/her own achievement and the achievement is generally unrelated to that of others. I do believe it is possible for individuals to self-direct their own experiences but it is not the goal for CNL.
CNL groups are based on a shared cooperative goal structure. As work occurs more and more in teams requiring the combined expertise of different members, the cooperative goal structure of CNL is more likely to support the overall goals of work group process than highly competitive or individualistic approaches.
Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1998) Learning Together and Alone: Cooperative, Competitive, and Individualistic Learning (5th Edition) (Paperback), New York: Allyn & Bacon.