Classification of Group Dynamics

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When two or more people come together, a group is formed. Dynamics is derived from a Greek word that means force. Hence the literal meaning of group dynamics is the interaction of forces between members of a group in a social situation. In organizations, groups are a component of measuring organizational behavior. 


Whether it is a small group or a large group in an organization, they affect and influence the development of an individual as well as the entire organization. Let us look at some of the definitions of a group and the classification of group dynamics.


Informal Groups According to Mayo and Lombard

Elton Mayo, an Australian psychologist, showed that people in an organization come together in informal groups that are aimed at job satisfaction and effectiveness. Informal Groups according to Mayo and Lombard, can be classified into the below-mentioned categories:

  • Natural Groups 

There is no internal structure involved in such groups and are formed naturally.

  • Family Groups

In such a group, the regular members influence each other’s functioning.

  • Organized Groups 

In this group, there are designated leaders, and they are highly structured. The leaders of the group maintain the unity and integrity of the group with their skills and intelligence.


Informal Groups According to Sayles

L.R.Sayles categorized groups based on the pressure that is prevalent in a group. The informal groups according to Sayles are:

  • Apathetic Groups

In an apathetic group, leaders do not pressurize other members of the group, and leadership is spread across. The low skilled workers who get low wages mostly form this group. These people are mostly discontent and lack unity and power. 

  • Erratic Groups 

If the members of a group are quick to get enraged and also quickly calm down, then such a group is called an erratic group. The semi-skilled workers of an organization form such groups as they need to communicate with each other as part of performing their job. There is considerable unity in this group, but with management, their behavior is erratic.

  • Strategic Groups  

This group has skilled workers who perform technological tasks independently. They hold various key job positions and can have a suitable strategy to apply pressure to the management. Members of this group are usually productive, and there is a strong unity in this group.

  • Conservative Groups  

This consists of highly skilled and influential individuals who can regulate the functioning of the organization. This group usually exists at the top level of the organization, and the members of this group are very self-confident. 


Why Do People Form Groups?

People in an organization mostly join groups to satisfy mutual interests which can be related to any of the following factors:

  • Security  

People feel safe and are more resistant to threats when part of a group. A group provides its members’ protection from a common enemy. When in a group, a person feels stronger and has fewer self-doubts.

  • Status  

If someone is a part of a group that is deemed prestigious, it provides recognition and a certain status to that individual.

  • Affiliation 

It fulfills social needs by having enjoyable regular interactions with those who share your interests. By relating with others in terms of feelings, thoughts, and behavior a group serves as a primary source for fulfilling the need for association with others.

  • Power and Goal Achievement  

There is power in numbers and what cannot be accomplished by one person can be achieved as a group. A group has multiple skills, knowledge,  and talents that can be pooled to achieve a common goal.

Characteristics of Groups Dynamics

Group dynamics is all about the attitudes and behavioral patterns within a group. It is concerned with how the groups are formed, their structure, and the processes they follow in their functioning. Group dynamics applies to groups of all types; both the informal and formal groups. The image below depicts the main characteristics of a group.

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Common Types of Groups

Groups are categorized based on purpose, process of formation, extent of structure in it, and size. Listed below are some of the most common groups:


Primary and Secondary Groups

A primary group is smaller in size and members of the group usually interact face-to-face. The main features of a primary group are:

  • Intimacy

  • Regular interaction

  • Cooperation

  • Small in size

A primary group impacts individual behavior heavily.

A secondary group is more formal in nature and remote. The members of this group might not be closely involved with each other and have very little interest in the problems or pleasures of other members of the group. 


Membership Groups and Reference Groups

  • A membership group is the one to which a person either belongs or would qualify to be a member. Few examples are doctor’s associations, tennis clubs, etc. People need to get a membership card to become members of this type of group.

  • A reference group, also called a symbolic group, is the one to which an individual wants to belong to or identifies. There might not be a real association of an individual with a reference group. For example, those who love cricket might want to belong to a group of well-known cricketers.

Command and Task Groups

  • Command groups are given by the organizational chart where usually there is a supervisor and subordinates who report to that supervisor. An example of such a group is a production manager and the staff in his department.

  • Task groups are also determined by the organization and are formed when members of the group are working together on a common task. The task group can break the command hierarchy where members from various levels and departments join to complete a job in a specified period of time. Few examples where task groups are formed in an organization are the development of a new product, enhancing the production process, etc. 

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. What are Some of the Factors Affecting Group Behavior?

Ans: A group can be successful or a failure which is determined by a myriad of factors. Some of the major factors that affect a group’s behavior are:

  • Resources of group members - A group member brings with him his personality, knowledge, skills, etc. A group will be successful if these resources are a fit for the task at hand.

  • Group structure - Smaller groups ranging between 2 to 10 members are supposed to be more effective as each member in the group engages actively. There is evidence that if a group’s size is more than 10 to 12 members, there is a decrease in the satisfaction of its members.

  • Group norms - There are boundaries of acceptable behavior which is agreed upon by the group members and form the norm of the group. These norms make sure that the group behaves in a predictable manner and does not get into embarrassing situations. Sometimes these norms might become bottlenecks for some members to perform at their highest potential. Hence norms must be accepted by the majority of the group and are subject to change if most people do not adhere to the norms.

  • Group cohesiveness - The bond in the group and the feeling of attraction for each other keep the group close. Group cohesiveness is affected by factors like the attractiveness of members, favorable evaluation, frequent interactions, etc. In a highly cohesive group, there is less number of absentees and higher productivity.

Q2. What are the Types of Communication and Communication Networks in a Group?

Ans: In a group, communications happen mainly in two modes:

  • Downward communication - This is the flow of information from a higher level in the hierarchy to the lower levels, i.e. from superiors to subordinates.

  • Upward communication - This form of communication is necessary for lodging complaints, providing suggestions, opinion surveys, etc., and it happens from subordinates to the superiors.

The communication networks are how information flows, and they are of the following types:

  • Formal networks - These are vertical and follow a chain of authority. They are limited to communication that is related to the task, and the main patterns followed are chain, star, and wheel networks.

  • Informal networks - These satisfy the social needs of employees and are not controlled by the management.