I. What Is a Group?
A group consists of two or more people interacting interdependently to achieve a common goal. Interaction is the most basic
aspect of a group as it suggests who is in the group and who is not. Groups exert tremendous influence on us. They are social
mechanisms by which we acquire many beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviours.
Formal work groups are established by organizations to facilitate the achievement of organizational goals. The most
common formal group consists of a manager and those employees who report to that manager.
Informal groups are groups that emerge naturally in response to the common interests of organizational members. Informal
groups can either help or hurt an organization, depending on their norms for behaviour.
II. Group Development
While employees often know each other before new groups are formed, simple familiarity does not replace the necessity for
A. Typical Stages of Group Development
Leaders and trainers have observed that many groups develop through a series of stages over time. Each stage presents the
members with a series of challenges they must master in order to achieve the next stage. These stages are forming, storming,
norming, performing, and adjourning.
Forming. Group members try to orient themselves by testing the waters.
Storming. Confrontation and criticism occur as members determine whether they will go along with the way the group is
Norming. Members resolve the issues that provoked the storming, and they develop social consensus.
Performing. The group devotes its energies toward task accomplishment.
Adjourning. Rites and rituals that affirm the groups previous successful development are common. Members often exhibit
emotional support for each other.
B. Punctuated Equilibrium
When groups have a specific deadline by which to complete some problem-solving task, we often observe a very different
development sequence from that described above. The punctuated equilibrium model is a model of group development that
describes how groups with deadlines are affected by their first meetings and crucial midpoint transitions.
Phase 1. Phase 1 begins with the first meeting and continues until the midpoint in the groups existence. Although it gathers
information and holds meetings, the group makes little visible progress toward the goal.
Midpoint Transition. The midpoint transition occurs at almost exactly the halfway point in time toward the groups deadline.
The transition marks a change in the groups approach, and how the group manages it is critical for the group to show
Phase 2. Decisions and approaches adopted at the midpoint get played out in Phase 2. It concludes with a final meeting that
reveals a burst of activity and a concern for how outsiders will evaluate the product.
III. Group Structure and Its Consequences
Group structure refers to the characteristics of the stable social organization of a group, the way a group is put together. The
most basic structural characteristics along which groups vary are size and member diversity.
A. Group Size
Although the smallest possible group would consist of two people, most work groups, including task forces and committees
usually have between three and twenty members.
Size and Satisfaction. In general, members of larger groups report less satisfaction with group membership than those who
find themselves in smaller groups. Increased potential for conflict, reduced opportunity for participation, inhibition, and
inability to identify contributions to the group are among the reasons for this phenomenon.
Size and Performance. Different types of tasks are performed by groups where performance could depend upon the type of
task and the number of individuals involved. For some tasks, like moving a heavy rock, the potential performance of the group
increases with group size. These are additive tasks in which group performance is dependent on the sum of the performance
of individual group members.
Other tasks, like searching for a single error in a complicated computer program, also may show performance gains as group
size increases, but that is because the chance of including a crucial problem solver is greater.
Disjunctive tasks are tasks in which performance is dependent on the performance of the best group member.
However, as groups get larger, performance may also decrease as a function of process losses. Process losses are group
performance difficulties stemming from the problems of motivating and coordinating larger groups. Thus, actual performance
= potential performance process losses. Finally, group performance on conjunctive tasks, like assembly line work, decreases
as group size increases. Conjunctive tasks are tasks in which group performance is limited by the performance of the poorest
www.notesolution.com B. Diversity of Group Membership
Research suggests that heterogeneous or diverse groups have a more difficult time communicating and becoming cohesive, so
group development takes longer. Once developed, diversity has little impact on performance and sometimes performance is
better on tasks that require creativity and problem solving.
C. Group Norms
Social norms are collective expectations that members of social units have regarding the behaviour of each other. They are
codes of conduct that specify what individuals should do and not do and standards against which we evaluate the
appropriateness of behaviour. All of us are influenced by norms which regulate many of our daily activities.
Norm Development. Norms develop to provide regularity and predictability to behaviour. They develop to regulate
behaviours that are considered at least marginally important. Individuals comply with these norms because the norms often
correspond to privately held attitudes.
Some Typical Norms. There are different types of norms in organizations which affect the behaviour of members. Norms that
seem to crop up in most organizations and affect the behaviour of members include the following:
Dress norms. Social norms frequently dictate the kind of clothing people wear to work.
Reward allocation norms. There are at least four norms that might dictate how rewards, such as pay, promotions, and informal
favours, could be allocated in organizations: equity, equality, reciprocity, and social responsibility.
Performance norms. The performance of organizational members might be as much a function of social expectations as it is of
inherent ability, personal motivation, or technology.
Roles are positions in a group that have a set of expected behaviours attached to them. Roles represent packages of norms
that apply to particular group members. In organizations, there are two basic kinds of roles. First, there are designated or
assigned roles that are formally prescribed by an organization to facilitate task achievement. Assigned roles indicate "who
does what." and "who can tell others what to do." In addition, there are also emergent roles which are roles that develop
naturally to meet the social-emotional needs of group members or to assist in formal job accomplishment.
Role Ambiguity. Role ambiguity exists when the goals of one's job or the methods of performing it are unclear. Ambiguity
might be characterized by confusion about how performance is evaluated, how good performance can be achieved, or what the
limits of ones authority and responsibility are. A variety of elements can lead to ambiguity.
Organizational factors. Some roles seem inherently ambiguous because of their function in the organization.
The role sender. Role senders might have unclear expectations of a focal person.
The focal person. Even role expectations that are clearly developed and sent might not be fully digested by the focal person.
The practical consequences of role ambiguity include job stress, dissatisfaction, reduced organizational commitment, and
intentions to quit. Managers can reduce role ambiguity by providing clear performance expectations and performance
Role Conflict. Role conflict exists when an individual is faced with incompatible role expectations. There are several different
types of role conflict.
Intrasender role conflict occurs when a single role sender provides incompatible role expectations to a role occupant.
Intersender role conflict occurs when two or more role senders provide a role occupant with incompatible expectations.
Interrole conflict occurs when several roles held by a role occupant involve incompatible expectations.
Person-role conflict occurs when role demands call for behaviour that is incompatible with the personality or skills of the
The most consistent consequences of role conflict are job dissatisfaction, stress reactions, lowered organizational
commitment, and turnover intentions. Managers can help prevent role conflict by avoiding self-contradictory messages,
conferring with other role senders, being sensitive to multiple role demands, and fitting the right person to the right role.
Status is the rank, social position, or prestige accorded to group members. It represents the groups evaluation of a member.
Organizations have both formal and informal status systems.
Formal Status Systems. The formal status system represents managements attempt to publicly identify those people who have
higher status than others. This is accomplished by the application of status symbols. Status symbols are tangible indicators of
status. Status symbols might include titles, particular working relationships, the pay package, the work schedule, and the
physical working environment. The criteria for achieving formal organizational status includes seniority in ones work group
and ones assigned role in the organization.
Informal Status Systems. Informal status symbols also exist in organizations and can operate just as effectively. Sometimes,