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Social Loafing on the Bench: The Case of Calendars and Caseloads

NCJ Number
Justice System Journal Volume: 12 Issue: 2 Dated: (Fall, 1987) Pages: 177-195
M L Luskin
Date Published
19 pages
Though their advocates contend that individual calendars motivate judges to manage caseloads, these arguments have been made primarily on commonsense grounds.
This paper suggests a theoretical basis for understanding the motivational effects of calendaring systems, drawing on 'social loafing' theory and research that shows people work harder alone than in groups. It argues that judges on trial courts are small groups vis-a-vis the task of caseload disposition and that calendaring practices vary the identifiability, distinctiveness, and perceived dispensability of contributions to caseload disposition -- dimensions important to individuals' motivations to perform. The article summarizes experimental research, considers its applicability to courts and caseload disposition, and concludes with a discussion of implications for research on courts and for practical problems of caseload management. 34 references. (Publisher abstract modified)