Group Dynamics

These processes include norms, roles, relations, development, need to belong, social influence, and effects on behavior. In organizational development (OD), or group dynamics, the phrase “group process” refers to the understanding of the behavior of people in groups, such as task groups, that are trying to solve a problem or make a decision. An individual with expertise in ‘group process, such as a trained facilitator, can assist a group in accomplishing its objective by diagnosing how well the group is functioning as a problem-solving or decision-making entity and intervening to alter the group’s operating behavior.

Because people gather in groups for reasons other than task accomplishment, group process occurs in other types of groups such as personal growth groups (e. g. encounter groups, study groups, prayer groups). In such cases, an individual with expertise in group process can be helpful in the role of facilitator. Well researched but rarely mentioned by professional group workers, is the social status of people within the group (i. e. , senior or junior). The group leader (or facilitator) will usually have a strong influence on the group due to his or her role of shaping the group’s outcomes.

This influence will also be affected by the leader’s sex, race, relative age, income, appearance, and personality, as well as organizational structures and many other factors. DEFINITION OF GROUP A group is, two or more people who share a common definition and evaluation of themselves and behave in accordance with such a definition. (Vaughan & Hogg, 2002). The branch of social psychology that studies the psychodynamics of interaction in social groups. • Group dynamics is the study of groups, and also a general term for group processes.

Relevant to the fields of psychology, sociology, and communication studies, a group is two or more individuals who are connected to each other by social relationships. • Group dynamics refer to the ways in which people interact and relate to one-another in a group situation. GROUP DEVELOPMENT As applied to group development, group dynamics is concerned with why and how groups develop. There are several theories as to why groups develop. A classic theory, developed by George Homans, suggests that groups develop based on activities, interactions, and sentiments.

Basically, the theory means that when individuals share common activities, they will have more interaction and will develop attitudes (positive or negative) toward each other. The major element in this theory is the interaction of the individuals involved. Social exchange theory offers an alternative explanation for group development. According to this theory, individuals form relationships based on the implicit expectation of mutually beneficial exchanges based on trust and felt obligation. Thus, a perception that exchange relationships will be positive is essential if individuals are to be attracted to and affiliate with a group.

Social identity theory offers another explanation for group formation. Simply put, this theory suggests that individuals get a sense of identity and self-esteem based upon their membership in salient groups. The nature of the group may be demographically based, culturally based, or organizationally based. Individuals are motivated to belong to and contribute to identity groups because of the sense of belongingness and self-worth membership in the group imparts. Group dynamics as related to development concerns not only why groups form but also how.

The most common framework for examining the “how” of group formation was developed by Bruce Tuckman in the 1960s. In essence, the steps in group formation imply that groups do not usually perform at maximum effectiveness when they are first established. They encounter several stages of development as they strive to become productive and effective. Most groups experience the same developmental stages with similar conflicts and resolutions. According to Tuckman’s theory, there are five stages of group development: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

During these stages group members must address several issues and the way in which these issues are resolved determines whether the group will succeed in accomplishing its tasks. 1. Forming: This stage is usually characterized by some confusion and uncertainty. The major goals of the group have not been established. The nature of the task or leadership of the group has not been determined (Luthans, 2005). Thus, forming is an orientation period when members get to know one another and share expectations about the group. Members learn the purpose of the group as well as the rules to be followed.

The forming stage should not be rushed because trust and openness must be developed. These feelings strengthen in later stages of development. Individuals are often confused during this stage because roles are not clear and there may not be a strong leader. 2. Storming: In this stage, the group is likely to see the highest level of disagreement and conflict. Members often challenge group goals and struggle for power. Individuals often vie for the leadership position during this stage of development. This can be a positive experience for all groups if members can achieve cohesiveness through resolution.

Members often voice concern and criticism in this phase. If members are not able to resolve the conflict, then the group will often disband or continue in existence but will remain ineffective and never advance to the other stages. 3. Norming: This stage is characterized by the recognition of individual differences and shared expectations. Hopefully, at this stage the group members will begin to develop a feeling of group cohesion and identity. Cooperative effort should begin to yield results. Responsibilities are divided among members and the group decides how it will evaluate progress. . Performing: Performing, occurs when the group has matured and attains a feeling of cohesiveness. During this stage of development, individuals accept one another and conflict is resolved through group discussion. Members of the group make decisions through a rational process that is focused on relevant goals rather than emotional issues. 5. Adjourning: Not all groups experience this stage of development because it is characterized by the disbandment of the group. Some groups are relatively permanent (Luthans, 2005).