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Term Paper on Group
Term Paper Contents:
- Term Paper on the Meaning and Definition of a Group
- Term Paper on the Features and Characteristics of a Group
- Term Paper on the Functions of a Group
- Term Paper on the Reasons of Group Formation
- Term Paper on the Group Development Process
- Term Paper on the Types of Groups
- Term Paper on the Theories of Group Formation
- Term Paper on the Group Dynamics
- Term Paper on the Group Norms
- Term Paper on the Group Cohesiveness
Term Paper # 1. Meaning and Definition of a Group:
An organisation is a collection of individuals and groups. As the situation and requirements demand, the individual forms various groups. Technically, any aggregation of people may be termed as a group. The society or the organisations are themselves huge groups of people. But in the context of an organisation, a group is generally understood as a small group, informally organised, having some common features and its members were interacting with each other’s, mostly face to face.
According to Edgar H. Schien “a group may be defined as a social phenomenon in which two or more persons decide to interact with one another, share common ideology and perceive themselves as a group.”
In the words of D.H. Smith, “a group is the largest set of two or more individuals who are jointly characterised by a network of relevant communications and shared sense of collective identity and one or more shared dispositions with associated normative strength.”
Work Group. A work group can be described as a collection of individuals working towards a common goal and who are interdependent to a significant degree as they relate to, and interact with each other while performing their task.
Term Paper # 2. Features and Characteristics of a Group:
The following are the salient features of a group:
1. A Small Aggregation of Persons:
A group involves at least two persons, but consists of only a small number of members, because a huge crawl will not allow any class affinity, friendship or interaction and the members will not feel socially and psychologically satisfied.
2. Common Interest:
Birds of a feather flock together, similarly people having same common interests, common goals, common ideology, common caste, creed or place, come closer through interactions and form a group. Certain common phenomenon/ interests, goals, problems, friendship, enmity or philosophy is essential to attract and keep the group members together. This commonness provides them a basis for continuous interactions and relations.
Interaction among group members is sine quo none of a group. A regular exchange of facts, news, views and feelings through face to face interactions, gestures or writings is the most essential feature of a group. As a matter of fact, a group is a natural outcome of interactions among people and which later provides a forum for the same.
4. Perceived Collective Identity:
A recognised collective identity as a group is the most distinguishing feature of a group, which makes it different from a casual aggregation of individuals or from the other recognised groups. Each member of the group must perceive that he belongs to the group and recognise others who are the members of that group. Mutual awareness and collective identity are, therefore, essential ingredients of a group.
Term Paper # 3. Functions of a Group:
The group performs several real important functions for its members and for the organisation.
For its members, the group performs the following functions:
The group teaches to its members how to do work, how to behave and how to get things done. It helps in his performance of the jobs.
2. Collective Thinking:
A group encourages discussion, interaction and exchange of news and views among the members. It helps them in collective thinking and group decision. Diversities are resolved and consensus is achieved before arriving at a decision.
3. Creation of Social Life:
The groups create social life. In the absence of an informal group, the atmosphere of the organisation would be boring and miserable.
4. Fight for Common Cause:
The group, as a collectivity of its members fights for the common interests and causes of the members against the management or other groups.
The group socialize the members in the organisation by telling them work norms, work climate, social and formal relations, group members and their status and roles, and infuses a sense of belongingness.
The group through its leader or spokesman represents the ideology and thinking of the group before other groups or before the management. It is also a means of communication.
Term Paper # 4. Reasons of Group Formation:
Man, as a social animal, has a natural instinct of belonging to a group wherein he may interact with others, express his feelings, help each other, get love and affection, and feel homely and secured. He also cherishes to satisfy his socio psychological needs of status, recognition, appreciation and affiliation.
Since he finds gratification of his varying needs in the small group, he forms or joins a group where he finds some commonness. Formation of small informal groups is a very pervasive phenomenon in human beings. They form groups within the organisation and outside the organisation.
Briefly, people form groups for the following reasons:
1. To Satisfy the Instinct of Belonging:
A group provides a forum for regular interactions, for exchanging views and news, expressing their ideas and feelings and discussing the things of their common interest. This satisfies their sense of belonging and affiliation. They feel comfortable in the group.
2. For Achieving Social and Mental Security:
The group provides the members a sense of social security and strength of collectivity. Individually, a man feels weak, helpless and exposed to several hazards. As a member of the group, he feels stronger and finds himself in a position to face hazards and problems more vigorously.
3. For the Gratification of Needs of Status and Recognition:
The needs of enjoying social status, recognition, respect, appreciation, love and affection are well satisfied by a group. The members get a good platform to show their skills and achievements and get appreciation with the group. Members also get respectful behaviour and recognition, if they enjoy good status within the group. A group leader is not recognised only by its own members but command respect and influence outside also.
4. For the Acquisition of Authority and Power:
The group also provides informal authority and power of the members by common consensus. Group members stand behind their group leader. The unity of the group members becomes a strong force. This force of unity can be utilized by the group leader or its members to fight their common interests and problems.
5. Other Reasons:
People form groups for a variety of other reasons also, such as desire for maintaining a close friend circle, fostering common ideology relating to caste, creed, religion; gaining knowledge and experience from others, fighting a common enemy and serving same personal or financial interests.
Since, man is a social and rational animal; he finds one or many of the above reasons for the attraction towards a group. These groups exist within the organisation with or even without the sanction of the management and influence the behaviour and functioning of the organisation.
Term Paper # 5. Group Development Process:
Group development is a continuous process and passes through the following three stages to reach the stage of maturity:
Development of Power and Authority Structure:
A group needs the development of power and authority structure for its smooth and cohesive functioning.
The power and authority structure develops slowly and gradually within a group and passes through the following stages:
i. Group Orientation:
In the first stage, group members are made aware of the group goals, roles of the individual members and group norms. This may be done by some influential member by taking a lead. He, who initiates and takes active interest, becomes informal leader of the group. After discussions and counseling he is accepted by the group as leader and thus power and authority structure emerge.
ii. Group Cohesion:
Group cohesion develops when all differences are settled. Group cohesion is necessary to bind the group together and its smooth working. The power and authority structure, so developed, after discussions and consensus, becomes stable and acceptable to all other members.
iii. Group Conflict:
Certain disagreements are but natural to arise over goals, roles, norms or rules. The group leader has to play very crucial role in resolving these conflicts and establishing harmony and mutual understanding among the members of the group.
Development of Interpersonal Relationships:
Interpersonal relations in a group develop through the following process:
Delusion means sinking differences by sacrificing individual identity, if needed for the sake of group cohesion. However, small disagreements cannot be eliminated and, hence may be ignored.
Disillusion leads to acceptance of reality. Group members are made to realise that differences will create obstacles in attainment of group objectives and, hence, through discussion, interaction, communication or the influence of informal leadership the group members sink their individual differences and accept the group goals, roles and norms.
The next phase is disillusion, and that means that there should be no illusion to the fact that there are no differences in the group. A group consisting of individuals with varying perceptions, interests and attitudes and complete harmony is a misnomer. Hence, in the phase of disillusion the efforts should be made to reduce them for the sake of group consensus.
The last phase, the stage of maturity of the group, arrives at when members become aware of the goals, roles and norms, knowingly accept the fact of individual differences, sink their personnel disagreements for group and accept the status and authority of their leader. A fully matured group is very effective. Group maturity brings rationality in thinking and decisions of the group. It allows reasonable dissents and is amenable to modifications and change. Thus, communication, dissent and openness are essential features of matured group.
Term Paper # 6. Types of Groups:
Both managers and non-managers belong to a number of different groups within the organisation. The membership in groups often overlaps. In some instances, individuals are the members of a group because of position in the organisation. However, through the contacts they make in the group, they begin to affiliate with some of its members on an informal basis.
Through the general distinction they can to classify into two types:
(i) Formal, and
The descriptive classification system used to classify groups into four broad categories:
(a) Command Group:
It is specified by the organisation chart. The subordinates who report directly to a given supervisor make up a command group. The relationship between the department managers and the foreman at the machine shop is spelled out in the organisation chart. As the span of control of the department manager increases, his command group increases in size.
(b) Task Group:
A number of employees that work together to complete a project or a job are considered a task group. A manufacturing process requires a great deal of interdependence is an example of task group. They communicate and coordinate with each other if the process is to handle properly. Their activities and interactions facilitate the formation of the task group.
(c) Interest Group:
This type of group consists of the members who join together to achieve objective such as an equitable pension payment. The members of the interest group may or may not be members of the same command or task group.
(d) Friendship Group:
In the workplace, employees, because of some common characteristics such as age, ethnic background, political sentiment, interest in sports or to desire to drink tea, often form a friendship group. These groups often extend their interaction and communication after the job activities.
If an individual’s affiliation patterns are reviewed, it becomes readily apparent that managerial and non-managerial personnel belong to many different and occasionally overlapping groups. Membership in command and task groups is designated by the formal organisation, which specifies who will be the superior and who will be the subordinate in the command group. The flow of work specified by the management and the job description designate the composition of common and task groups.
The membership patterns of interest and friendship groups are not tightly controlled by the organisation. However, managerial actions such as layout a work area, allowing workers to take coffee breaks at a specified time and demanding a certain level of productivity influence the interaction and communication pattern of employees, causing individuals to affiliate with each other so that interest and friendship groups emerge.
Other classifications of groups divide groups into formal and informal groups:
Formal and Informal Groups:
Both formal and informal groups exist in organisations. Formal groups are collections of employees who are made to work together by the organisation to get the job done smoothly and efficiently. For example, if five members are put together in a section to attend to customer complaints, it would be a formal group. Members, who have been grouped together in a department with task responsibilities assigned to them, are also a formal group.
Informal groups, on the other hand are groups that emerge or randomly get formed due to the formal group member’s interactions with each other, and thereby develop common interests. In other words, informal groups are not formally organised in the work system to get the job done, but randomly develop on their own at the workplace because of common interests and mutual liking among the members of the formal group.
For example two members from the production department who interact with a couple of people from the research and development department during the course of their work may find that they have similar ideas and interests, develop an affinity towards one another, and frequently meet and talk to each other on work and non-work related matters, thus forming an informal group on their own.
Likewise, members from different units in an organisation or members from within same formal groups can develop friendship and form their own group. Likewise members of the informal groups sometimes also interact with each other outside the workplace. Some members from a work group who have developed informal relations may, for instance, play tennis in the evening or have bridge parties on Sunday.
Thus, while formal groups are designed by the organisation to function as a unit to get the job done, informal groups emerge on their own due to the affinities that develop among the group members. Groups develop their own unique characteristics and each group has its own personality. These are reflected in the way the members operate as a group.
Term Paper # 7. Theories of Group Formation:
There are four important theories of group formation:
1. Balance Theory:
Theodore Newcomb has advocated that persons get attracted towards each other on the basis of similar attitudes towards commonly relevant objectives and goals. Once the relationship is forged, it will continue to maintain, symmetrical balance between the attraction and the common attitudes. Whenever, a balance gets distributed, it has to be restored, or else the group will disintegrate.
2. Proximity Theory:
This theory believes that geographical proximity enables people to come together and form groups. In the organisations people work together at the same place, come in contact of each other, interact and pass time in each other’s company. This proximity derives them to form groups.
3. Exchange Theory:
This theory suggests that people are attracted towards each other or towards a group when they find that rewards are more than the cost of joining the group. Reward may be interpreted in terms of satisfaction of needs and costs may be calculated in terms of fatigue, anxiety and frustration.
4. Interaction Theory:
Homan has propounded this theory. According to him, activities, interactions, sentiments are the basic elements of group formation. Interaction and participation in the organisation tend to result in a powerful group formation.
Term Paper # 8. Group Dynamics:
Small groups have existed since the time of the first human family. In the recent years however, people have started to study scientifically the processes by which small groups work.
Group dynamics is a social process by which people interact face to face in small groups. It is the study of the force operating within a group. Dynamics is a Greek word meaning force, hence, the group dynamics is concerned with the study of forces operating within the group and influence their attitude and behaviour, interaction between one group and the other groups and the organisation as a whole.
Group dynamics is the study of the social processes by which people interact with each other in a small group and influence the behaviour of each other. This is a well-established fact that individuals behave as the member of the group to which they belong rather than as an individual.
His perceptions, feelings, attitudes and behaviour are determined by the group norms and group leadership more than by his own thinking. It is therefore, the study of forces operating within a group and influencing the behaviour of its members is highly essential to understand and mould the behaviour of people in the organisation.
Term Paper # 9. Group Norms:
Group norms are the informal guidelines of behaviour and a code of conduct that provides some order and conformity to group activities and operations. These rules are expected to be followed by all the group members. These norms and rules usually develop gradually and informally as group members learn as to what behaviours are necessary for the group to function effectively.
These norms may include a code of dress for meetings or being on time for the meetings and behaving in a predictable manner both within and outside the group meetings. This predictability of behaviour also causes higher degree of cohesiveness within the group. Predictability reduces chaos, ambiguity and conflict.
Discomfort would be high in a committee or in a task group, if the group members are not sure as to how each member would behave. Norms also identify the values and ethics of the group members. They are established on the basis of what is right and decent and expected of professionals. For example, some companies have very rigorous dress standards, tolerating no deviation, such as Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
There are basically two types of norms:
1. Work Norms:
Work norms regulate the performance and productivity of individual members. An overly ambitious worker who produces more is considered as much a deviate from the norm as a worker who is under producer. Work norms usually put an acceptable level of productivity, within reasonable tolerances so that comparatively poor performers can also be accommodated and that they do not become a burden on their peers.
Workers performing below the lower acceptable level are generally informally reprimanded and encouraged to produce more. On the other hand, rate- busters who perform above the upper acceptable limit set by the group are also ostracized for encouraging the management to raise its expectations.
In addition to productivity, work norms may also define the extent of time spent on the job. For example, if coffee breaks are allowed for 15 minutes in the morning, then those members who do not take coffee breaks at all as well as those members who take longer coffee breaks are considered as disobeying the group norms. Thus, groups will often want to regulate not only how much workers produce, but also how many hours they pour in on the job. Some work norms are strengthened when management tends to exploit some of the members of the groups. Thus, norms might also define the limits placed upon worker interaction and co-operation with superiors.
Other work norms might involve loyalty or confidentiality on the part of members. Workers are not expected to report about fellow workers to supervisors. Similarly, confidentiality is a powerful group norm so that no matter how much tension may be between workers and management, the workers will not divulge company secrets to competing organisations.
2. Behaviour Norms:
These are rules and guidelines defining the day to day behaviour of people at work. This behaviour pattern may include punctuality as a habit, completing any given assignments within the required time frame work, not losing temper, showing respect for other member’s opinions, not monopolizing the conversation and so on. Certain professionalism is expected from all members and this professionalism is predictable form of behaviour.
Group norms are generally reinforced if all members agree to abide by them and the members will agree if they firmly believe that adherence to such norms will facilitate group goals achievement or ensure group survival and additionally, such norms do not conflict with individual values and principles.
Also, the norms are reinforced if the members value their membership in the group and do not like the outcomes of violating them. The outcome of violating the group norms must be sufficiently consequential in order to discourage members to deviate from them.
The groups enforce compliance with norms in many ways. They can reward people who comply with group norms by appreciating them, by listening to them in a respectful manner and by making them leaders of the group. Also, they can take negative actions against those persons who deviate from group norms in the form of ridicule or ‘silent treatment’ or by withdrawing privileges or by ultimate action of expelling them from the membership of the group.
Term Paper # 10. Group Cohesiveness:
In its simplest form, it means to stick together to the characteristic of groups. More comprehensively, 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.
All the above characteristics of the groups are influenced in some degree by the cohesiveness within the group. For example, the greater the attraction within the group the more likely it is that the membership will adhere closely to a group norm such as production level.
Factors Affecting Group Cohesiveness:
Following factors influence the group cohesiveness:
(a) Size of Work Group:
One of the important and necessary conditions for the existence of the group is that members interact and communicate with each other. If the group is so large that members do not get to know each other, there is little likelihood that the group will be high in cohesiveness. This is a logical assumption that would be made by those who understand the difficulties of communicating in large groups.
Research studies have found that inverse relationship does exist between the size of the group and the group cohesiveness. As the size of the group increases, its cohesiveness decreases.
(b) Dependence of Members upon the Work Groups:
Individuals join groups because they perceive the group as a unit which can help them satisfy economic and socio psychological needs. A group that is able to satisfy a significant portion of an individual’s needs will appear attractive to that individual. Group processes such as communication and overall friendship make the group a key factor in the individual’s life. Thus, what the group stands for its norms and its membership are bonds which relate the individual to the group. The greater the individual’s dependency upon the group, the stronger will be these bonds of attraction.
(c) Achievement of Goals:
The attainment of some set of group established goals (for example, better production than another group) has an influence on members. For example, a work group that attains a highly desired rating for completing a task enhances the value of being a group member. Individuals within the group feel that pride in being the member of a work group that has performed in such a manner that they are recognized as being superior.
Work groups that have successfully attained pre-established goals are likely to be highly cohesive units, the members tending to be more attracted towards each other because their efforts have resulted in achieving a desired goal. Thus, success and cohesiveness are interrelated.
Success in goal achievement encourages cohesiveness and cohesive work group are more likely to attain pre-established goals. It is important to consider that although group cohesiveness can lead to successful achievement of goals but that same cohesiveness can prove detrimental when group and organisational goals are not congruent.
(d) Status of Group:
In an organisational setting work groups are typically ranked in a status hierarchy.
An inter group status hierarchy may develop for many different reasons, including:
i. One group is rated higher than another in overall performance; this is a measure of success in the organisation.
ii. To become the member of the group, individuals must display a high level of skill.
iii. The work being done by the group is dangerous or financially more rewarding or more challenging than other work.
iv. The group is less closely supervised in comparison to other groups.
v. In the past, members of the group have been considered for promotion more often than members of other groups.
These are only the some criteria which affect the status hierarchy of groups. Generally, the higher a group ranks in the inter group status hierarchy, the greater its cohesiveness. However, the higher status groups appear attractive only to some non-members. Individuals on the outside of the group very well may not want to become members of a high status group because membership then entails close adherence to group norms.
(e) Management Demands and Pressures:
It is certainly true in many organisations that management has a significant impact on group cohesiveness. The members of the work groups tend to stick together when they are pressured by superiors to conform to some organisational norms.
The group cohesiveness attributed to managerial demand may be a short run or long run phenomenon. In some cases, a group may be loosely knit (low in cohesiveness), and a company policy statement may be interpreted as a threat to the job security of group members.
Consequently, the members of the group become a more cohesive and unified whole in order to withstand the perceived management threat. After the danger is passed, that is, the policy statement is rescinded; the group gradually drifts back towards low cohesiveness. In other cases, the cohesiveness may be a long lasting phenomenon.
Consequences of Group Cohesiveness:
The positive outcomes of group cohesiveness are as follows:
(a) More interactive communication,
(b) Increased productivity,
(c) Increase participation,
(d) More personal satisfaction,
(e) Higher conformity,
(f) More influence, and
(g) High success rate.
(а) More Interactive Communication:
Communication reduces conflict. The better the communication, the less likely is any misunderstanding among members. Because the members of the cohesive groups share common values and goals, they are inclined to greater communicativeness. Since communication is the key to understanding, respect and closeness, it tends to foster and cement positive social relations as well as depth in personal relationships.
(b) Increased Productivity:
It is quite easy to understand that unity has synergetic effect. The group effort is expected to bring better results than the sum efforts of individual members. However, the outcome of the efforts is a function of not only group cohesiveness but also group compliance with the organisational goals.
According to Richard M. Steers, “specifically, when cohesiveness is high and acceptance of organisational goals is high, performance will probably be high. Similar results would be expected for low cohesiveness and high goal acceptance, although the result may not be as strong. On the other hand, if performance is high and goal acceptance is low, the group efforts will probably be directed away from organisational goals and towards goals valued by the group. When both cohesiveness and goal acceptance are low, efforts will probably become dissipated, leading to low productivity.”
(c) Increased Participation:
Because group cohesiveness involves close interpersonal relationships, the members consider the group as their own, just like a family and they are motivated to participate actively in group affairs and activities. Members also try to assist and support other members of the group in times of need and this strengthens the bonds of friendship. The turnover rate of members is very low and they look forward to group meetings and group activities as it gives them opportunity of social interaction in addition to devising strategies for achieving individual and group goals.
(d) More Personal Satisfaction:
Satisfaction, though a state of mind, is primarily influenced by positive external factors. These factors include friendliness, respect from other members and self-respect, support, opportunity to interact, achievement, protection against threats and a feeling of security. This is expected since the members of a cohesive group will not stay as members if they were dissatisfied.
(e) Higher Conformity:
While all individuals who are in the group are unique in many ways with their own norms, values, beliefs and attitudes and sometimes these characteristics may be in conflict with the group norms, the members usually make sacrifices in order to conform to group norms. The cohesive group is generally able to put subtle pressure on the individual member who deviated from the group norms in order to bring him back to the main stream. For example, if a member is working too hard or is playing politics to enhance his personal objectives, the group might put social pressure on him to comply with the group norms. If these pressures do not succeed, then the member may be dropped from the group in order to maintain cohesiveness among other members.
(f) More Influence:
Individual members will respond more favourably to the demands of the cohesive groups in comparison to less cohesive groups. An informally accepted and respected leader of the group can have quite an autocratic authority and influence over the group members specially when confronting an external threat.
Thus, the leader will have considerable influence over the members in shaping their opinions and operations. For example, during negotiations between the union and management, if the union leader is satisfied that he has reached an equitable settlement, he will advise the union members to accept it and even if some members are not happy about such agreement, they will accept it because of the leader’s sincerity and influence.
(g) High Success Rate:
Success and cohesiveness are interdependent factors. Cohesiveness makes the goal achievement easier and goal achievement adds to cohesiveness.
In general, cohesive groups are more successful in achieving their goals. The reason for this relationship is that a high degree of cohesiveness involves a high degree of agreement about the goals to be achieved and about the methods of achieving them. Thus, such coordinated efforts tend to result in success in achieving such goals.