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Group Dynamics


Everything you need to know about group dynamics. Dynamics is part of group behaviour. In industrial organisations, there are several groups, for example, group of workers, group of supervisors, group of managers, group of senior executives and trade unions.

These are all action oriented teams. The group as well as group behaviour is closely connected with the management.

Group behaviour or dynamics of the group includes qualities and personality traits of group members.


In Indian industries there are six special types of groups normally interacting and their dynamic activities are supposed to be of immense help to the management.

“Group-dynamics is concerned with the formation and structure of groups and the way they affect individual members, other groups and the organisation.”

Learn about:

1. Introduction to Group Dynamics 2. Definitions of Group Dynamics 3. Concept 4. Characteristics 5. Importance


6. Principles 7. Elements 8. Stages of Group Formation 9. Theories 10. Guidelines for Better Use of Group Dynamics.

Group Dynamics: Definitions, Concept, Characteristics, Importance, Principles, Stages and Other Details

Group Dynamics – What is Group Dynamics?

Group dynamics refer to the adjustive changes that take place in the group structure as a result of changes in any part of it. As Kurt Lewin puts it, “a change in a part brings change throughout the entire system analogous to the change witnessed in an electrical or magnetic field.” The adjustive changes may take place in the process of interpersonal behaviour or intergroup behaviour.

Interpersonal behaviour is governed by interpersonal needs. What a member wants to contribute, what he can contribute to the group cause and the extent to which he will interact with the other members of the group will depend upon factors such as his physique, mental abilities and intelligence, aptitude, interest and personality.

Intergroup behaviour consists of interactions between the various groups and depends upon factors like the knowledge of the task, objectives and interdependence. When the groups know their job and the objectives behind it, they are likely to perform better.


The intergroup relationships in any organisation are further regulated by the rule of division of labour, regulations and procedures. Some departments may have functional authority while others may have advisory status.

One department may have full control over finances, while another may look after the human resources. The power of the group is defined in many cases. For instance, the board of directors makes the policy while the management team is responsible for its implementation. The groups may also drive power through negotiation and contracts, absorbing or joining hands with other groups.

Informal organisation and groups put additional responsibilities on the HR division which is considered to be the eyes and ears of top management. It has to keep them informed about what is going undercurrent without losing the trust and confidence of people in the organisation.

The structure and role of the HR division varies from organisation to organisation. In labour-intensive plants, manpower problems necessitate early formation of the HR department to develop sound procedures for different personal and industrial relations functions with separate units to deal with the two.

Adherence to labour laws, rules and regulations formulated by authorities and collective bargaining and union relations are on the priority list. In capital-intensive plants, where most operations are mechanised and fewer people are required to manage, the HR division may be small in size and labour problems may be less acute.

Again, in organisations with a horizontal structure, staffed mostly by technical and specialised personnel, the size of the HR division may be small. Most routine functions may be operated by a few persons with the help of computers which are a must in organisations of all sizes – big, medium or small. In retail organisations also, like malls and departmental stores, the size of the HR department is small as operations are mechanised and fewer people are employed.

In large organisations with multiple plants and offices, the HR division at the head office looks after policy formulation and coordination with units. The HR chief at the head office may hold as powerful a position and status in the hierarchy as the chief of finance, production or marketing. Authority wielded by the HR chief in most organisations depends upon company policy and the proximity he has to the MD/CEO of the company

Group Dynamics – Defined by Marvin E Shaw, Clovis R. Shepherd, Keith Davis and Likert

The word dynamics comes from a Greek word mean­ing force. Thus group dynamics refers basically to the study of forces operating within a group. The term group dynamics is defined in different ways.

Marvin E Shaw has summarised various definitions of group into four categories:


1. Group is defined as consisting of individuals who perceive the existence of a group and their members in it.

2. Group is defined on the basis of a common motivation or goal.

3. There is a structure of the group. It is the relationships among group members which binds them together into a group.

4. The central element of a group is the interaction among its members.


He concludes that the most accepted definition of group is that a group has two or more persons which are interacting with one another in such a manner that each person influ­ences and is influenced by each other.

Definition by Clovis R. Shepherd:

He suggests some criteria on the basis of which a collection of people can be termed as a group or otherwise.

First a group is a kind of relationship which is more enduring and tighter than social relationship but is less organised than a formal organisation.


Second a group should be small enough so that members feel a sense of common identity and mutual awareness, but large enough for group characteristics to develop and be­come stable.

A group may also be defined as:

A group is the aggregation of small number of people who work for common goals, develop a shared attitude and are aware that they are part of a group.

According to Keith Davis – “The social process by which people interact face to face in small groups is called group dynamics.” It is concerned with the interaction of individuals in a face to face relationship. It focuses on team work, wherein small groups are constantly in contact with each other and share their ideas to accomplish the given tasks.


In other words “Group-dynamics is concerned with the formation and structure of groups and the way they affect individual members, other groups and the organisation.”

Hawthorne, experiments have shown that people behave as members of a group and their membership of group helps to shape their work behaviour and attitudes towards the organisation. Management can use groups successfully for the accomplishment of organisational objectives.

According to Likert – “On organisation will function best when it’s personal function not as individuals but as members of highly effective work-groups with high performance goals.”

The group develops its goals clearly and furnishes suggestions to its members for the accomplishment of goals. Every group creates its leader who may effectively co-ordinate the group efforts towards the accomplishment of its objectives.

Group Dynamics – Concept

The team “Group Dynamics” is concerned with the interactions and forces among group members in an organisation.

More specifically, it refers to the following issues:

i. How a group has come into being?

ii. Why the group has emerged?

iii. What is its size and composition?

iv. What are the activities of the group?

v. How members interact and resolve things?

vi. What are the processes used by members to share information, work related issues?

vii. How members behave and influence each other?

viii. What informal networks are put to use to spread rumours?

ix. How members are reacting to formal leaders, work rules, challenges, etc.?

x. How the informal groups function and affect individual members, other groups and the organisation?

Group Dynamics – 4 Important Characteristics

(i) Group dynamics describes how a group should be organised and operated. This includes pattern of leadership and coop­eration.

(ii) Group dynamics consists of a set of techniques such as role playing, brainstorming, group therapy, sensitivity train­ing etc.

(iii) Group dynamics deals with internal nature of groups, their formation, structure and process, and the way they affect individual members, other groups and the organisation as a whole.

(iv) Group dynamics refers to changes which take place within groups and is concerned with the interaction and forces ob­tained between group members in a social setting.

Features of Group:

(1) The term group refers to two or more individuals who bear an explicit psychological relationship to one an­other.

(2) The group consists of two or more individuals and pos­sesses some cohesiveness. It reveals some amount of interaction among its members who have definite ideas of their position and role in it.

(3) Relationships concentrating on status and roll along with common values or norms are characteristics fea­tures of the group.

(4) As the group operates on a common task, common attitudes develop and members become aware that they are part of it.

Group Dynamics – Importance

There are many problems of human behaviour which have disturbed the man from the very beginning. There are certain questions which may be asked about the human relations and the group behaviour that are very difficult to answer.

Some of the questions are as follows:

(1) How should we consider the relationship between individuals and the group?

(2) What are the needs of the group, the individual needs? And if so then what are the properties of the group?

(3) Do groups learn? Have they any goals? Do they feel frustrated? Do they develop?

Are they formed or deformed? Are these all properties found in individuals?

(4) Are the groups good or bad? How do individuals behave with the group?

Researches have been done or are being done to answer these related questions of human and group behaviour.

In this age of behavioural science we think we should be rational and unbiased in the study of the human behaviour, but can we? No, it is not absolutely possible because still there are certain pre-requisites about the realities or unrealities, qualities and evils of groups that guide us. Generally, these preconceptions are integral parts of an individual’s personal philosophy.

Such perceptions may be:

(1) Negative or,

(2) Positive.

(1) Negative View Point:

The people having negative view points are of the view that:

(a) Groups do not exist and these are the product of distorted thought processes generally known as abstractions;

(b) Groups are not good. They like that their members must be loyal to the groups without their head and brain.

(2) Positive View Point:

Followers of positive view say that:

(a) Groups do exist. Acceptance or non-acceptance of an individual by a group counts much to that individual and it proves the existence and importance of groups.

(b) Groups are not bad, they are good. They satisfy the higher order needs of an individual such as affection, recognition and self-esteem. They stimulate altruism and self-sacrifice. Groups provide the means to get such things through mutual interaction that a person can never attain them individually.

The characteristics of the positive attitude may be called the characteristics of so-called group dynamics movement. The intention of the promoters of group dynamics is that the work should be done in group. Individual responsibility and man to man supervision are bad.

Individual problem solving and individual theory are bad. Committee-meetings, group decisions, collective problem solving and group therapy are the index of the group prosperity.

Though group dynamics studies the relationship of individuals, yet we forget the every individual in the group is different in attitude and behaviour. The manager of an organisation must not forget that each member of a positive group does not have similarity in views in a particular situation and they are quite different in views and have their own self-respect.

Group Dynamics – 8 Main Principles Given by Dorwin Carl Wright

In order to achieve the best use of Group Dynamics the following principles of group dynamics have been discussed by Dorwin Carl Wright and they are as follows:

(1) “If the group is to be used effectively as a medium of change, those people who are to be changed and those who are to exert influence of change must have a strong sense of belongingness to the same group”.

(2) The more attractive the group is to its members the greater is the influence that the group can exert on its members.

(3) In an attempt to change attitudes, values or behaviour, the more relevant they are to the basis of attraction on the groups, the greater will be the influence that the group can exert upon the members.

(4) The greater the prestige of a group member in the eyes of the other members, the greater the influence he can exert.

(5) Efforts to change individuals or sub-parts of a group, which, if successful, would have the effect of making them deviate from the norms of the group, will encounter strong resistance.

(6) Information relating to the need for change, plans for change and consequences of change must be shared by all relevant people in the group.

(7) Strong pressure for change in the group can be established by creating a shared perception by the members of the need for change, thus making the source of pressure for change lie within the group.

(8) Change in one part of a group produce strain in other related parts which can be reduced only by eliminating the change or by bringing about re-adjustment in related parts.”

Group Dynamics – 8 Important Elements: Group Membership, Emergent Leadership, Formal Hierarchy, Interaction, Group Norms and a Few Others

In order to understand ‘group behaviour’ or ‘group dynamics’, one has to take into account the components, elements or characteristics which make a group.

The major elements of ‘group behaviour’ are discussed in the following paragraphs:

Element # 1. Group Membership:

Membership in the group is a selective process in which individuals are granted membership primarily on the basis of commonality of interests and willingness to be co-operative and to conform to the group norms. Individuals may have overlapping memberships in a number of informal groups, depending upon the frequency of contacts, the mutual interests shared and other factors. Often several employees of a concern may be members of the formal and informal groups.

Element # 2. Emergent Leadership:

As a group strives to complete some objectives and the individual members begin to know each other, they choose someone to lead them. The leader is accepted by the group members and emerges from within. He is followed and obeyed because members perceive that he can bring them their cherished result. The selected leader is granted authority by the members to make decision, take action, seek conformity or take other actions that seem appropriate.

The leader is selected on the basis of his ability to perform for the informal group, and the authority is granted to him to fill a need. Usually, a leader is selected on the basis of respect, administration, and the ability to perform advantageously for the benefit of the group. His selection may also depend upon a particular situation.

For example, when employees make some demands and are hesitant about the action to be taken to have them conceded, an aggressive and militant person may be chosen as their leader; but after their demands have been met, a person with a stable and an integrated personality may be chosen to take the place of the former leader. An informal leader guides and directs by persuasion and influence; but he does not enjoy the requisite authority to hire or fire the employees.

It should be noted here that a leader influences the members of his group because he possesses certain powers, which may have been acquired from a variety of sources, including his personality, position, and/or expertise. Such power may be coercive power, reward power, legitimate power, exert power, referent power, etc.

The informal leader specifically serves two facilitating functions. First, he initiates action and provides direction. If there are differences of opinions on a group-related matter, the leader attempts to compromise differences of opinion and moves the group toward accomplishing its goals.

Second, he communicates the groups’ beliefs about policies, the job, the organisation, the supervision, and other related matters to non-members (such as members of other groups, supervisory personnel and the union).

Broadly speaking, the personal characteristics of group leaders are:

(i) The leadership role is filled by an individual who possesses the attributes which the members perceive as being critical for satisfying their needs.

(ii) The leader embodies the values of the group and is able to perceive these values, organise them into an intelligible philosophy, and verbalise them to non-members.

(iii) The leader who is able to perceive and decipher communication relevant to the group and effectively communicate important information to group members can be thought of as an information centre.

Element # 3. Formal Hierarchy:

All groups have a certain degree of formal organisation. For instance, consultation and discussions on important issues are held with the “lieutenants.” It is through these sub-leaders that messages are communicated to the members of the group. The individuals performing leadership roles possess prestige because of their role. They are ranked by group members as being at a particular level in the group status hierarchy.

However, it is to be noted that the actions and existence of the group are not completely controllable by the use of formal authority methods. Informal relationships develop and act within the formal organisation but tend to remain somewhat independent. This aloofness provides many interesting challenges to formal managers and leaders.

Element # 4. Group Has Some Activity or Task to Perform:

A group does something which may be related to its job or unconnected with it. For example, it may go on a picnic or movie or simply engage in a gossip session. It undertakes these tasks to serve some ends in purpose. It may provide them with information and further social ties, or satisfy their social and affiliation needs or bring them protection against some type of threatening, oppressive forces, etc.

Element # 5. Interaction:

All people interact with one another. When such interaction takes place, there is a social transaction, in which one person responds to another. According to Berne, “people interact with each other in terms of three psychological positions or behavioural patterns known as ego states. These ego states are parent, adult and child, and a normal person operates with some or all the three. Persons interacting with a parent ego are protective, dogmatic, evaluative and righteous. They prefer laws, rules and standards. The adult ego state is based upon reason and seeking and processing information, and on factual discussion. It views people as equal, worthy and reasonable human beings. The child ego state reflects the conditions and experiences of early childhood. It is dependent, rebellious, selfish and sometimes creative. It tends to seek approval, and grasps for immediate satisfactions. It is usually emotional.”

There are two types of group interaction. One exists when people are discussing ideas and is generally called a meeting. The other exists when people perform tasks together and is called a team, which may be a process, a goal or a sequential team.

All about Committees:

A ‘Committee’ may be defined as a group of two or more persons who officially meet together for the purpose of considering issues or problems related to the organisations. Committees are found in all types of organisations.

There is a myriad of committees in government, educational, religious and business organisations, such as the Board of Directors in corporate forms of organisation; Finance, Executive, Operations, Bonus, Audit and Grievance Committees. Although they are more frequent at the top of the pyramid, there is usually some type of formal committee at every level of organisation.


Committees perform several functions. These may act in a service, advisory, co­ordinating, informational or final decision-making capacity. The basic idea behind information of a committee is that “two heads are better than one.” The members of the committee bring with them a wide range of experience, knowledge, ability, and personality characteristics. With all these, a committee can prove an effective device to help reduce conflict and promote co-ordination between departments.

It also increases motivation and commitment derived from participation. By being involved in the analysis and solution of the problem, individual members more readily accept and try to implement what has been decided. The committee can be instrumental in human development and growth, as it often provides chances of observing and learning from other members with much experience or with different viewpoints and knowledge.

Critical Evaluation:

On the other hand, attacks have been on the usefulness of the committee, as the following statements show:

It may be stated, no doubt creative ideas do frequently result from group decision-making but the committee is often “potential time waster” — as much as of the time is wasted through discussions on trivial topics that do little to further the organisation’s goals. Secondly, the Committee develops, what is known as “Group think.” ‘Group think’ is a process of deriving negative results from group decision­ making efforts as a result of group pressures.

People do tend to be influenced by their peers. Since no one wants to break up the cohesiveness of the group, the members become the victims of ‘group think.’ Group think type of atmosphere is encouraged before the meeting even begins. The other members are there merely to rubber stamp predetermined decisions. Group leaders may also assume that silence on the part of the participants means consent or agreement to decisions actually made unilaterally is the leader.

Thirdly, group decision-making often results in costly delays. Other tasks are neglected while committee members are in session, and there tends to be more indecisiveness rather than candid and creative thought among members as they try to arrive at reasonable decisions and conclusions.

However, an effective operation of meetings is encouraged by an appropriate group size, by a support of the group process, by open communication, effective task and by social leaders who attend to hidden agendas and focus their attention on subordinate goals, task orientation, and mutual participation through communication. Meetings specially encourage support for decisions and for creative thinking (i.e., brain storming); but a risky shift may develop.

However, they suffer from slowness and are expensive; and they level and divide responsibility. “Institutional and operations teams encourage co­ordinated action by a co-operative small group in regular contact with its members who contribute responsibly and enthusiastically towards task achievement.”

Meetings generally work through a planned agenda. Such a type of agenda serves to guide the groups’ activities toward a pre-established goal. It can help prevent a lot of scarce and valuable time from being eaten up needlessly. Sometimes, a hidden agenda also grows up. Such a type of agenda is basically the attitudes and feelings that an individual may bring to the meeting.

It may be planned in advance of the meeting, or it may emerge spontaneously as the result of a disagreement with ideas expressed or a distrust of people conducting the session. Persons with hidden agenda, either consciously or subconsciously, try to place obstacles in the path of planned agenda. Such side-tracking may be prevented through tact of the chairperson.

Teamwork is multi-directional interaction in terms of needs of the situation and the abilities of each member to contribute to those needs. Team members respond voluntarily to the job situation and take appropriate actions to further teamwork goals. The greater the trust and compatibility in a team, the greater their effectiveness tends to be.

Element # 6. Group Norms:

Each informal group characteristically establishes group behaviour standards or norms, beliefs, traditions and attitudes to which it expects its members to conform. According to Luthens, “norms are the oughts of behaviour. They are prescriptions for acceptable behaviour determined by a group, institution, or society.”

In the opinion of Argyle, “Group norms are rules or guidelines of accepted behaviour which are established by a group and used to monitor the behaviour of its members.”

In a very structured, formalised group, these norms may become institutionalised into laws or operation laws. In other words, norm is an agreement among group membership as to how members in the group should behave. The more an individual complies with norms, the more one is accepting the group standards of behaviour. These standards are designed to achieve the goals of the group and to preserve and protect its value. The norms and patterns can also be established to enhance its social interaction and affiliation desires.

Norms can be social, moral or institutional in nature. Examples of social norms include expectations about dress (wearing a uniform or necktie or a particular hairstyle, or wearing a badge; or metal helmets of a certain colour to identify and distinguish the individuals from others); courtesies (excusing oneself from dinner); or authority relationship (taking orders from the boss).

Normal norms relate to personal obligations, rights and privileges, and they play an important art in societal institutions such as religion, family and marriage. Norms can also take on institutional properties themselves. The legal system of a country is a set of rules by which all members of the society must govern their behaviour. An industry may have certain norms which are implicit or explicit.

For example:

i. The goals of the industry may be to provide a pleasant, enjoyable workplace for its members (to resist pressures for too much work, to fight back against rigid work controls), the group may establish maximum and minimum production standards — these may take the form of units produced, sales quotas achieved, time required to do a certain job, etc. In order to remain a member in good standing every worker must adhere to the production guidelines.

Thus, the regulation of an individual’s and a group’s production is a common practice in industry. For example, the new employee is told not to upset the balance of work flow, not to “kill” the job, not to work himself out of a job. If an employee tries to curry favour with his boss, he is censured by the other members.

ii. Groups also have norms for absenteeism, promptness or tardiness at work, the amount of “horseplay” allowed, whom one should socialise with, and other standards for both work and “no-work” behaviour.

iii. In the Hawthorne Study, it was found that norms reinforced that worker’s output which was consistent with the group’s determination of a proper day’s work. Those who turned out too much work became “rate-busters.” Those who turned out too little were “chiselers.”

Any worker who took action to injure another acquired the title of a “Squealer.” Those who deviated from the groups’ standards, particularly the “rate busters,” were characterised as “speed kings” or “slaves.” On occasions, some deviants were even subjected to abuse.

iv. In most classroom situations, the norms dictate the students should not humiliate the teacher, or engage in loud, boisterous discussions among themselves which makes it impossible for others to understand the lecture. If anyone violates these norms, he may be punished; or some sort of pressure is exerted on him to bring him back in line. College professors do not voice criticism of their colleagues to students for the same reason.

v. Norms are formed in matters of consequence of the group. Generally, any matter of group maintenance (preservation) and group functioning relating to the achievement of the goals is a matter of consequence to the group as a whole. The main purpose of the norms is the maintenance of the group solidarity or its self-perpetuation; to that end norms are evolved governing the behaviour and relationships of members to one another.

Secondly, norms are directly related to behaviour conducive to the realisation of the group goals.

Thirdly, norms govern the relationship of group members to consider. Finally, norms of a group apply to all members of the group. Norms are a standard, a moral yardstick by which real behaviour of an individual and the group is judged.

vi. The norms set by the group are accepted by its members. That brings about cohesiveness in the group. The more attractive a group is to its members, the more likely they are to conform to its norms. According to one writer, conformity is “a modification of behaviour in the direction of a stated or implied norm.” According to Hollander, “conformity is evidenced when a person is aware of a norm and behaves in accordance with it.”

In the opinion of Kiesler and Kiesler, “conformity is a change in behaviour or belief toward a group as a result of real or imagined group pressures.” Conformity may take two forms, viz., compliance, which results when overt behaviour is in line with groups norms; and private acceptance, which is a change in attitude or belief.

vii. Members of an informal group, by conforming to group norms, may enhance group cohesiveness, increase the satisfaction and support which members receive from it. Conformity is demanded from members with a view to maintaining the security of the group and enabling it to achieve its goals. Likert has found that “group forces are very important in influencing the behaviour of an individual, and the members of an informal group conform to group norms.”

The degree of conformity depends on how much a member values the rewards which he obtains by reason of his membership of a group. If he values the social approval of the members outside his group more than the approval of the group members, he is less likely to conform.

The other factors affecting the pressure to conform are the importance of group membership to the individual, the need for the group to achieve unanimous support in order to attain its goals, the certainty that sanctions will be invoked for deviation, and the degree of self-confidence of the individual. Self-doubters easily yield to group pressure.

Three specific social processes bring about compliance with group norms, namely:

a. Group pressure,

b. Group review and enforcement and

c. The personalisation of norms.

a. Group Pressure:

The idea is that if individuals stand alone, they are inclined to succumb to group pressures; but when they find their attitude supported by one group member, they resist pressure to change. Individuals who value their group membership highly and who satisfy some combination of personal needs by being a part of a group allow group pressures to influence their behaviour and performance.

b. Group Review and Enforcement:

The group position on matters like production, absenteeism and quality of output is communicated to individuals and they are observed by the group members whether the group norms are being followed. If they are not being followed, different approaches may be employed, such as discussion between the respected leaders and the deviators.

If this does not prove effective, more rigid corrective action as scolding (privately or publicly), ostracising the non-acceptors, ridicule, silent-treatment, avoidance, use of rewards or incentives, physical punishment like bringing, and with death as in criminal gangs. In other words, conformity to norms is ensured and non-conformity is discouraged through the process of social control in the group.

The adoption of such controls hurts the offender and brings him back to his original degree of conformity or obedience to the norm. Social control operates through interactions and sentiments and their impact on the individual in-the group is powerful.

c. Personal Values and Norms:

The behavioural patterns of the individuals are influenced significantly by their value system. The values of the people are influenced by the events occurring around them; they are learned and become personalised. These values become a standard of conduct, which is correct from a group as well as from a social vantage point.

Element # 7. Group Cohesiveness:

This refers to the attractiveness which a group holds for its members, i.e., each group involves participation by members through loyalty and solidarity. This concept involves the “Stick-together” characteristics of groups and their impact on group members. Cohesiveness has been defined as “the resultant power of a group to think and act as a single unit in pursuit of a common objective(s).” Likert defines cohesiveness as “The attractiveness of the members to the group or resistance of the members to leaving it.”

It is, in effect the sum total of force acting on group members. In a more refined definition, group cohesiveness is stated as “the attraction of members to the group in terms of the strength of forces on the individual member to remain active in the group and to resist leaving it.”

To ascertain group cohesiveness, some dimensions are used, such as “whether workers feel a part of the group,” “want to stay in the group”, “stick together”, “help each other”, and “Get along together”.

The level of cohesiveness appears to vary significantly among informal groups. Some groups may be tightly bound together by mutual support. Conformity to group standard tends to be high among these groups. Other groups may have only limited control and conformity.

Groups that are highly cohesive are capable of influencing individual behaviour. If, for example, the group norm is a high level of performance, the more cohesive group is likely to influence each member towards higher productivity. On the other hand, if the norm is low productivity, the highly cohesive group is likely to restrict the performance of individuals.

Several factors determine group cohesiveness. It may be higher when a majority of the following conditions are present:

i. The members have a broad agreement concerning the goals and objectives the informal group will serve. Where groups have attained pre-established goals, they are likely to be highly cohesive units. This is because they have worked together in the past and because their efforts have resulted in achieving a desired goal.

Thus, success and cohesiveness are interrelated. Failure in goal achievement discharges cohesiveness, and cohesive work groups are more likely to attain accomplishment of goals.

ii. The size of the group is sufficient for interaction but is not too large to stymie personal attention. Normally, the optimum size of an informal organisation is from four to seven members. An inverse relationship exists between the size of the group and group cohesiveness. As the size of the group increases, its cohesiveness decreases.

Because, there is a tendency for the group to breakdown into subgroups or cliques. On the other hand, smaller group tends to generate more individual satisfaction than larger ones, because of the greater opportunities for participation and better understanding of group goals.

iii. There is a satisfactory level of homogeneity in social status and social background among the members. Cohesiveness is the result of a certain similarity among members. Such as sex, similar family, social and cultural background. This cohesion may be destroyed by certain policies and activities of a management, such as the adoption of an unfair practice of promoting one and punishing another, or laying-off senior employees and retaining the newcomers in service.

However, a threat from outside may break up a group, as happens when working hours are made longer, or when retrenchment occurs, or when wages are reduced, or when the usual benefits and privileges to which employees have long become habituated are withdrawn. In such circumstances, the membership of an informal group may abruptly increase.

iv. Individual characteristics – cooperativeness, maturity and being an accepting person — tend to develop cohesiveness and friendliness, while striving for prominence or being a suspicious, non-accepting person may inhibit unity. Naturally, groups are attractive if members feel secure in them, attain prestige from their membership of them, and enjoy social approval during interaction.

v. There is a significant amount of communication and interaction among participating members.

vi. There should be a capable and effective leadership, which reflects in its role in building and maintaining group cohesion.

Thus, a cohesive group is one in which members act toward an agreed goal, in which everyone assumes a position of responsibility with respect to its achievement. These characteristics are reflected in and reinforced by the existence of shared norms, morale and interrelated properties of esprit- de- corps, group atmosphere, self-involvement and an effective leadership.

As Cartwright and Zander point out – “The level of cohesiveness appears to have a direct influence upon the behaviour of the members of each informal group. In groups, for example, where cohesiveness is high, members appear to be more attentive to each other, adherence to group goals is at a high level, pressure on violators of group goals is strong and individual members find a strong sense of security and release from tensions as a result of their group affiliations.”

Element # 8. Member Satisfaction:

The end result of group membership is satisfaction of members.

Heslin and Dumply (on the basis of a survey of 37 studies) have shown specific relationship between work of group member satisfaction are:

(i) Perceived freedom to participate,

(ii) Perceived goal attainment and

(iii) Status consensus.

(i) Perceived Freedom to Participate:

A member’s perception of freedom to participate influences need satisfaction. Individuals who perceived themselves as active participators reported more satisfied, while those who perceived their freedom to participate to be insignificant typically were least satisfied members in a work group.

(ii) Perceived Goal Attainment:

A group member’s perception at progress toward the achievement of desired goals is an important factor which is related to member satisfaction. Groups which progressed towards goals’ attainment showed higher levels of member satisfaction, while members of groups not adequately progressing toward the attainment of group goals showed a lower satisfaction level.

(iii) Status Consensus:

It is an agreement about the relative status of all group members. When the degree of status consensus is high, member satisfaction tends to be high, where status consensus within the group is low; member satisfaction tends to be low.

The two authors concluded that status consensus is more readily achieved in groups where – (a) the group task specialist is perceived to be competent by the membership; (b) a leader emerges who plays a role that is considered an important group task, and (c) a leadership role emerges and is filled by an individual who concentrates on coordinating and maintaining the activities of the group.

They further observe that when an individual member’s goals and needs are in conflict with the goals and needs of the overall group, lower levels of membership satisfaction are the result.

Group Dynamics – 5 Stages of Group Formation: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning

Individuals having similar likings tend to form a group. As a new group comes together, its members are faced with a dilemma. People want to belong to groups. The group’s common goal provides a sense of purpose, and self-selection homogenizes membership. At the same time, individuals also want to maintain their independent identities. The interpersonal and work-related behaviour are exhibited and analysed during the stages of group development.

Two main assumptions for the basis for group formation have been put forward:

i. Functional – Such as joint action on a task; face-to-face interaction or mutually dependent relationships.

ii. Psychological – The perception of a shared identity.

Most groups, according to research do not follow a standardised form of creation. It differs from one organisation to another. It also depends upon the number of members of the group, its structure and communication.

The process of group formation can be depicted by five stages:

1. Forming:

This is the first stage of group formation. During the initial stage, the members of the group do not have any clear idea. This first stage is characterised by a sense of uncertainty and awkwardness and perhaps anxiety. Participants may be unsure of what to do and how to do it, The “rules of the road”-group norms and standards have yet to be defined and participants are eagerly looking to find out what is okay and not okay.

This phase often shows as tentativeness or even some anxiety on the part of the participants. Leaders need to set the tone for group behaviour, activities, and interactions High level of ambiguity is prevailing in the process. When members think about each other the process moves on to the next stage.

Most people are polite as they try to put their “best foot forward.” The result is a superficial level of harmony and co-operation. This serves the purpose of getting the group started and off the ground in terms of motivation and commitment. Members may tend to verbalise how close they feel to each other, and may develop quite a group spirit due to successful task accomplishment.

Leadership at this point should be a combination of High Task/Low Relationship (Telling) in terms of teaching skills and establishing norms moving to High Task/High Relationship (Selling) to get everyone involved and interacting in the group. This stage is otherwise termed as the phase of the members “getting acquainted”.

2. Storming:

This is the second stage of group forming. It is characterised by individual assertive behaviour, which may result in some group instability. Participants have begun to feel comfortable enough with their new environment to take some risks in revealing more of their personalities. Each person wants to get a sense of individual importance and influence on the group — “finding a niche.” This becomes more evident as increasing responsibility is shifted to the group as they move into moderate levels of maturity. It involves conflict of the member’s ideas.

One of the members assuming the leadership role tries to direct the group by bringing the members of the group together. The leadership style which may be most effective, are High Task/ High Relationship (Selling). Leaders should not be surprised if some conflicts develop in the group at this stage. This is a part of the natural process of the group becoming self-outstanding. This stage is otherwise called as the phase of “struggling forward.”

3. Norming:

This phase is otherwise called as “becoming personal”. Norming is the stage where the group is formed and structured completely. A growth of affection and establishment of personal relationships characterise this phase. Participants will begin to take responsibility for resolving conflicts and strengthening friendships. Group cohesiveness exists in this stage.

Cohesiveness relates to the togetherness of the members of the group. Each member realises his role and job to perform. The Leadership style, which may be most effective, is Low Task/ High Relationship (Participating) since the group is competent regarding tasks but needs assistance and support in terms of relationships.

4. Performing:

When the group has adapted itself to the group environment, performance takes place. This phase is termed otherwise as “working together”. The functional activities of the group are stated and members hold high co-ordination. The members try to pool their potential and give high productivity. This phase is characterised by harmony among group members. Participants look outwards to see how other people in the group are doing to make sure all are supported. Decision-making and problem-solving will be shared within the group.

At this stage, the group is mature enough to attend to its own needs both in terms of task and relationship matters. The leadership style, which would be most effective, would be Low Task/Low Relationship. Higher performance is achieved due to high interpersonal behaviour exhibited by the individuals.

5. Adjourning:

If the groups are formed temporarily, then another stage follows, called as Adjourning.

It is otherwise termed as transference. In adjourning stage, the group disperses after the group activity is completed. Here, priority is given to wrapping up of the activities rather than increasing performance. This final part of the group process is essential in making sure that the trip is not remembered as “just a fun couple days in the woods.”

It is important that participants be able to transfer the things which they have learned about themselves and being in a group back to their regular lives. This is accomplished through the debriefing process. In the permanent groups, the performances of the group members are high compared to the temporary group.

Group Dynamics – Theories: Balance Theory and Exchange Theory

Many theories have been developed by different psychologists on group dynamics. The basic theory developed by George Homans, besides telling about “Propinquity” also speaks of activities, interaction and sentiments for forming the group. This means that persons join and form groups as they work closely with each other. It may be of geographical or spatial proximity. Supposing individuals work in an office or in a department become close and form the group.

This may be formal or informal. They interact with each other on a specific task and gradually develop sentiment. Thus, the group is formed. Though the propinquity theory has many advantages to tell as to why the group is formed, the main limitation is that it is not analytical. It cannot consider many complex aspects of information technology. Today’s organisational structure being more of network or virtual, propinquity cannot fully answer the complex aspects of group formation in this new structure.

1. Balance Theory:

Many other theories are put forward regarding group formation. But they tell one or two dimensions of group formation. The theory, of these many theories, considered to be comprehensive is “Balance Theory” developed by Theodre Newcomb. This theory states that “two or more individuals interact with each other as they have common attitudes and values. These include authority politics, work, religion, lifestyle and marriage.”

The theory further states that individuals who form the group try to maintain balance between attitudes and values through interaction and propinquity and if they cannot maintain balance, they back out resulting in disconnection of relationship.

2. Exchange Theory:

This is a socio-psychological theory. In this theory, cost-benefit aspect is considered. Here, the “Cost” refers to anxiety, frustration, embarrassment and fatigue that occurs due to participation in a group. Benefit refers to satisfaction of personal needs. If reward is more than the cost, people join the group. The attributes such as attitude, propinquity, interaction are all key factors that facilitate the formation or disintegrate the group.

Thus, benefits and rewards are exchanged for costs (anxiety, frustration, etc.) and if rewards and benefits are more, the group is formed and developed.

Group Dynamics – 8 Important Guidelines for Better Use of Group Dynamics: Laid Down by Dorwin Cartwright

The efficiency of manager can be examined from his ability to use group dynamics in the welfare of the organisation. It is the responsibility of a manager to use group dynamics in such a way that the strength of the group contributes to a favourable attitude towards high standards and acceptance of necessary changes.

In order to achieve support of group in the organisational interest, the following principles of group dynamics laid down by Dorwin Cartwright should be followed:

1. If the group is to be used effectively as a medium of change, those people who are to be changed and those who are to exert influence for change must have a strong sense of belongingness to the same group.

2. The more attractive the group is to its member, the greater is the influence that the group can exert on its members.

3. In attempts to change attitudes, values or behaviour, the more relevant they are to the basis of attraction to the group, the greater will be the influence that the group can exert upon the members.

4. The greater the prestige of a group member in the eyes of the other members, the greater the influence he can exert.

5. Efforts to change individuals or sub-parts of a group, which if successful, would have the effect of making them deviate from the norms of the group will encounter strong resistance.

6. Strong pressure for change in the group can be established by creating a shared perception by the members of the need for change, thus making the source of pressure for change lie within the group.

7. Information relating to the need for change, plans for change, and consequences of change must be shared by all relevant people in the group.

8. Changes in one part of a group produce strains in related parts which can be reduced only by eliminating the change or by bringing about readjustment in related parts.

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