Get the answer of: Why do People Join Informal Groups?

Internal Reasons:

People join groups because they meet their personal needs. Groups satisfy group needs in the following ways:

(a) Interpersonal Attraction:

There is a basic need in human beings to care for, help and be useful to others. When people have similar attitudes, personality, economic status, values and beliefs, they become part of the same group. They like and enjoy interacting with each other. Frequent interaction is rewarding as they know more about each other and promote their similar values and beliefs.

(b) Group Activities:

A person may join a group not because he is attracted by members of the group but because he is attracted by activities of the group. A person joins a group performing religious and charitable activities because he wants to carry out such activities. Though group activities attract group membership, interpersonal attraction is also necessary. A person would choose to forgo the activity rather than join a group with low interpersonal attraction.

(c) Group Goals:


Members join a group because they are motivated by goals of the group. An institution which raises funds for upliftment of the poor may attract a person to join that group, though he may not personally like other members of the group or the way the funds are raised by them.

(d) Group Norms:

The group norms have strong influence on the behaviour of members. Norms are the standards of behaviour accepted by the group. They are implicitly agreed to and become binding on group members. They are not written rules of behaviour but are informally evolved.

Members implicitly agree with them, agree to conform to these standards and expect others to conform to them. Group norms have the force of the group behind them and, therefore, are binding on members of the group. These influence the individual’s behaviour a great deal.

(e) Higher Pay-off:

Generally, an individual behaves according to the perceived reward for the behaviour. If one type of behaviour has a higher pay-off (is rewarded more), the individual will repeat that behaviour. As a result, his motivation will go up and he is likely to continue to behave that way.


Rewards can be of various kinds. Most researchers have shown that when the pay-off is high, people tend to collaborate more. This is particularly true in case of people who are interested in others. Conceptually, the achievement motivation (concern for individual excellence and competition) is supposed to have high correlation with competitive behaviour. But the findings did not bear this result.

A person with high achievement motivation is interested in results. If he perceives that by collaborating he can get better results, he is likely to collaborate. Similarly, if a person perceives that results are better (pay-off is higher) from competition, the person is likely to compete against others. Not only those who have a tendency to collaborate but even those who have a tendency to compete are likely to collaborate in due course if collaborative behaviour has a higher pay-off.

(f) Need Satisfaction:

People join groups because they satisfy their affiliation, achievement, power and other social and esteem needs. New residents in a locality, for example, join the local club to satisfy their individual needs. Even at work places, informal groups provide them mental rest and release their official tensions.

External Reasons:

People do not join groups because the groups satisfy their needs; instead, their membership in a group satisfies their needs by forces that lie outside the group. Their membership provides benefits other than those provided by the group itself.

(a) Interaction:


Professionally qualified students become members of groups which have close contact with the firms which approach these groups for the job market. Their interaction with the companies is not direct but through the groups.

(b) Personal Goals:

Group membership helps members achieve personal goals which are different from group goals. People may join Lions Club or Rotary Club not because these clubs meet their personal goals (club goals may be different from personal goals) but because other members of the same club help them to establish contacts (business or otherwise) which will satisfy their personal goals.

(c) Superordinate Goals:

Superordinate goals are the goals which are important to all the parties concerned and which cannot be achieved by any party alone. Experimental conflict and competition were first created in two groups of adolescents who were taken out camping for several days.

Later, situations were created in which the problems faced by the groups could not be solved independently by either group (superordinate goal). It was found that perception of superordinate goals by both the groups, which were hitherto involved in conflict and competition with each other, changed their behaviour and they engaged in maximum possible collaboration.


Several factors contribute to the development of a superordinate goal. First, the goal should be attractive and desirable to all the members. Second, the goal should be seen as a shareable one, so that individuals (or groups) concerned can share it.

Third, if the goal cannot be achieved by a single individual or a group without working with the other(s) involved, then it becomes a superordinate goal. In traditional sports, members of a team competing with other teams have a superordinate goal of getting a score higher than the other team.

Within the team itself, members play a collaborative game because they perceive the superordinate goal. The goal of achieving victory is attractive to all members, they see this as a shareable goal, and each one knows that it cannot be achieved single-handedly, that each has to work with others to be able to achieve this goal. When people involved in a situation see a goal as having all these three elements, it becomes a superordinate goal.

(d) Perceived Power:

Perception of power contributes to collaboration in a group. There can be power to reward or punish. Punishment may be in the form of depriving a person of the reward which he or she is likely to get. This may be done by holding back information, misleading the other person, and so on.


Even the person at the lowest level in the organisation can use negative power to create annoying situations: delaying matters, holding back information, giving information which creates misunderstandings, etc. If people in the system perceive that they may be able to contribute and influence the attainment of certain goals, this is a perception of positive power. At the same time, it is important that they realize that others involved in the situation also have power, both positive and negative.

(e) Mutual Trust:

Along with perception of each other’s power, it is important that the parties perceive that the power will not be used against the other. Some amount of mutual trust is likely to lead to cooperation. Trust indicates high probability that the power of the concerned party or individual will not be used in a mala fide way. A combination of perceived power and minimum level of trust leads to cooperation.

(f) Communication:

Communication contributes to collaboration amongst the various parties involved in the situation. When representatives of the groups communicate with each other, the chances of collaboration increase. Communication opens possibility of discussing the consequences of behaviour.

Communication also helps the groups to discuss their perception of each other’s power and see that the power can be turned into a positive force for the benefit of all concerned. In the absence of communication, such sharing of concerns is not possible. When individuals communicate as representatives of a group, it is important that the groups they represent trust them and that the representatives are sure that the commitment they make to other groups will be honored by them.

(g) Fait Accompli:


If groups or individuals live together and share certain norms, they begin to see good points in each other and collaboration begins to emerge. As long as individuals or groups do not work or live together, they may be prejudiced against each other or even have wrong notions about each other. Poor communication or indifference amongst individuals or groups could also lead to prejudice.

For example, till the representatives of the management and the union do not communicate with each other, the former (management) may think the union has no empathy for them. The realization that they have to live or work together contributes to collaboration and through their sharing of experiences, they evolve common understandings and norms. Sharing a space may help each party to ‘experience’ and ‘see’ the other party’s strengths and good points.