Stuctural properties of group


Published on

The document addresses structural characteristics of a group that includes following as essential components.
1. Size of group
2. Composition of group
3. Status hierarchy of group
4. The pre-established channels of communication within group

Published in: Education, Technology, Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Stuctural properties of group

  1. 1. Structural properties of Group Although the effects of a group‟s structure upon its attractiveness have not been systematically investigated, there is evidence to suggest that such effects may be substantial. Research initiated by Baveals shows that the communication structure of a group can affect member‟s satisfaction with participation in the group. Baveals created groups in the laboratory that were to work on a problem requiring the exchange of information among members, and he specified for each group the communication network that it could use. He found that the average level of satisfaction was higher among members of groups with a decentralized network than among those with a centralized one. The effectiveness of a group as a function of its structural characteristics includes following as essential components. 1. Size of group 2. Composition of group 3. Status hierarchy of group 4. The pre-established channels of communication within grou 1. Size of group The crude question, Are small groups or large groups more effective? can at best yield crude answers. Changes in group size may influence certain intermediate variables such as cohesiveness, distribution of participation and leadership, which in turn influence the effectiveness. Group size, cohesiveness and satisfaction Hare (1952) compared 5 and 12-person groups of Boy Scouts who were formed to play a “camping game”. The boys were told a story about a camping trip which ended in misfortune,
  2. 2. making it necessary for each boy to make his way back to civilization alone. The boys were asked to rank ten pieces of camping equipment in order of importance for the return trip. Each group was then asked to decide as a group on the order of importance of the ten pieces of equipment. After a group discussion, the boys again individually ranked the ten pieces of equipment. Hare found that the 5-person groups arrived at a significantly higher level of consensus after discussion than did the 12-person groups. The larger group was found to limit participation among the members by leading some members to feel that their individual opinions were not important and therefore not worth voicing. Slater (1958) examined some correlates of group size in a sample of 24 “creative” groups ranging in size from two to seven members. Each group met four times for a discussion of one of four human-relation problems. After each meeting, the members were asked to indicate whether they felt the group was too small or too large for most effective work on the task it was assigned. Members of the five-man group expressed completely satisfaction, no one reporting he felt his group was too large or too small. Members of groups larger than five persons reported that they felt their groups were disorderly and wasted time, and that the members were too pushy, aggressive and competitive. The members of groups smaller than five persons complained that their groups were too small. Observations of the interactions of the members of the smaller groups suggested that they were inhibited from expressing their ideas freely through fear of alienating one another and thus destroying the group. Group size and distribution of participation
  3. 3. Bales and his associates (1951), Stephan and Mishler (1952) and others have secured data on the distribution of participation among members of one kind of creative group-discussion groups. The similar findings of these studies suggest that as the size of the group increases, the most frequent contributor assumes a more and more prominent role in the discussion. The bigger the group, the greater the gap in amount of participation between the most frequent contributor and the other member s of the group. How does this affect productivity in creative groups? A study by Carter and his coworkers (1951) is pertinent to this question. They concluded from their study that in the small group “each individual has sufficient latitude or space in which to behave and thus the basic abilities of each individual can be expressed; but n the larger group only the more forceful individuals are able to express their abilities and ideas, since the amount of freedom in the situation is not sufficient to accommodate all the group members”. The constraints upon participation which persons may experience in large groups will tend to stifle crirical evaluation of the ideas presented by the more self assertive and dominant members. The productivity of creative members in large groups may suffer because of the silence of majority. Group size and leadership behavior It is clear that style of leader behavior can be significantly affected by size or group. In the study by Carter and his associates(1951) [same as stated above] the correlates between authoritarianism and leadership behavior was found to increase as the size of the group rose from four to eight. Similarly, Hemphill (1950) found, when he compared leader behavior in groups of 30 or fewer members with leader behavior in groups of 31 or more, that in the larger groups the demands upon the leader were greater and leader centered behavior was tolerated more by the members.
  4. 4. Group size and productivity Complex relations are found in group size and its effectiveness in terms of group productivity as being indicated in various researches. Marriott (1949) studied output in relation to group size in 251 work groups in two automobile factories. He found a negative correlation between output and group size, groups of less than 10 producing 7 percent more per man than groups of more than 30. This results, however, may be due to the fact that the group-bonus system (under which his group worked) becomes ineffective for large groups. Worthy (1950) has reported that a number of surveys carried out in Sears, Roebuck and Company suggest that both worker satisfaction and operating efficiency tend to decrease with increase in the size of administrative units. There is, surprisingly little convincing research evidence that small work groups have a higher output per man than large groups. Another possible advantage of a larger problem solving group is indicated in a study by Taylor and Faust (1952), who compared the efficiency of problem solving in groups of two and four. The parlor game of “Twenty Questions” was used as the experimental task. Although the performance of groups of four was not found to be superior to that of groups of two, it is significant that groups of four had fewer failures to find the answer in twenty questions. The author suggest that “increasing the number of participants from two to four reduces the possibility of a persisting wrong set resulting in complete failure.” 2. Composition of Group The effectiveness of group in reaching its goal is determined by the individual characteristics of the separate members making up the group. Effective groups are made up of effective persons. The particular pattern or combination of individuals making up a group is essential.
  5. 5. Groups and individual characteristics A study by Haythorn (1953) throws considerable light on how the characteristics of individual members affect the behavior of the group. In experimental groups assigned discussion and problem solving tasks, he explored the kinds of individual behavior patterns that facilitate or depress group functioning. Subjects met in groups of four. Membership was rotated so that each subject worked successively in each group and thus the influence of the given individual‟s behavior could be isolated from that of a particular group. Correlations were computed between the ratings by observers of each subject on each of 12 behavioral traits and ratings by group members of the performance of the subject‟s group. The behavioral traits of cooperativeness, efficiency, and insight were found to be positively related to smooth and productive group functioning. On the other hand, such individualistic behavior traits as aggressiveness, self confidence, initiative, interest in individual solution, and authoritarianism tended to reduce group cohesiveness and friendliness. Sociable behavior was found to lower group motivation and competition, but to increase friendliness and interest in social interaction. Personality attributes of the individual members were measured by means of the Cattell Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire Analysis of these personality measures in relation to the functioning of the group in which the individuals work revealed consistent and meaningful relations. Maturity, adaptability and acceptance of others were found to be positively related to effective group functioning; suspiciousness, eccentricity and coolness toward their fellows tended to impair smooth group functioning. Membership pattern-Homogeneity Persons who are similar in their values, attitudes and interest tend to form stable, enduring groups. There is rather a substantial evidence that such homogeneity of individual
  6. 6. characteristics among the members of a group promotes member satisfaction. In a study by Carter and Haythorn (1956) creative groups which were homogenous and heterogeneous in authoritarian attitudes were compared. The homogeneous groups, relative to the heterogeneous groups, were found to be more friendly and to have higher morale. The members of heterogeneous groups conversely were observed to exhibit more conflict and competition. The homogeneity or heterogeneity of a group also determines its productivity. But there it would appear that the more heterogeneous the group, the better it is. In other words the effect of the independent variable upon group functioning varies with the nature of the criterion of effectiveness. Hoffman (1959), for instance, has studied the effect of the degree of homogeneity in personality of the members of a creative group upon the quality of problem solving. His results indicated that heterogeneous groups were superior to homogeneous groups in “inventive solutions.” Membership pattern-Compatibility Another crucial factor in group composition is the compatibility of the members in interpersonal response traits. Shutz (1958)has studied the effect of his factor on group productivity where time pressure was important. He was led to investigate compatibility by his assumption that non compatible groups dissipate a great deal of time and energy on interpersonal problems. Further, the expression of hostility in the form of such obstructive behavior as unreasonable criticism may greatly reduce group productivity. 3. Status Hierarchy The members of any group that exist for any appreciatable period of time come to occupy different status positions in the group. The influence that the resulting status hierarchy has upon
  7. 7. the effectiveness of group functioning is mediated in part by the pattern of communication established in the group. A laboratory experiment in which Kelley, created a prestige group hierarchy by giving some members the authority to tell others what to do and how to do it. He informed some of the higher status persons that they were secure in their jobs and others that they might be changed to a lower status later in the experiment. Similarly, some of the lows were told that they would not be allowed to rise above their low positions, and other lows were informed that they might be promoted. Kelley found that the high status job with the implied threat of demotion. And the low status post with the impossibility of promotion, were clearly the most undesirable positions. He also noted that persons who were secure in their high status were most attracted to the rest of the members of the group. 4. Channels of Communication In the 1950s and 196Os, Bavelas and Leavitt and their colleagues at MIT conducted a series of experiments on small group networks. They manipulated the pattern of communication among the members of small groups by controlling who could send messages to whom, and measured the impact of various patterns on group functionin,u and performance (Bavelas, 1950; Bavelas &Barrett, 195 1; Leavitt, 195 1).The researchers found that centralization-the extent to which one person served as a hub of communication-had a significant impact on individual and group functioning. The complexity of the task proved to be a critical moderating variable: Centralization was beneficial when the task was simple and detrimental for complex tasks. A decentralized structure was also best when information was distributed unevenly among group members, or when the information was ambiguous (Leavitt, 195 1; Shaw. 1954, 1964, 1971).
  8. 8. Studies have shown that decentralized networks outperformed the centralized one. Marvin Shaw related this to information saturation. That is when the communication pattern has one centralized person who becomes saturated when the optimum level is exceeded. As the system has one person in the information transfer, too much information will interfere. It sometimes forces the weakest person in the group to function in the leadership role. Note worthy is studies have found or at least suggest that employees who are not satisfied with their jobs are more likely to distort information. Bavelas has shown that communication patterns, or networks, influence groups in several important ways. Communication networks may affect the group's completion of the assigned task on time, the position of the de facto leader in the group, or they may affect the group members' satisfaction from occupying certain positions in the network. These findings are based on laboratory experiments. A social network consists of a set of actors (“nodes”) and the relations (“ties” or “edges”) between these actors (Wasserman & Faust, 1994). The nodes may be individuals, groups, organizations, or societies. The ties may fall within a level of analysis (e.g.. individual-toindividual ties) or may cross levels of analysis (e.g., individual-to-group ties).There are different types of network of communication. Communication Network means the channels by which information flows. Networks can be of two types: (A) Formal Network and (B) Informal Network. (A) Formal Networks: Formal network are used for task-related communication. These are generally vertical type and follow the authority chain. There are several patterns of communication.Widely used formal networks are as follows:
  9. 9. Wheel/Star Network Y Network Line/Chain Network Circle Network All-Channel network, (B) Informal Network: Informal Networks do not follow authority chain. Here information can move to any direction freely. There are four informal networks: Single strand chain Gossip chain Probability chain Cluster chain Formal Networks Wheel /Star Network The wheel network concentrates on the available channels around one central position placing the other people in peripheral positions.  Centralized network,  It is time saving.  Members can‟t communicate with each other, hence perhaps low overall satisfaction.  Leader is very clear, and so is only satisfied.  Effective in simple task if, members accept the leader‟s authority. Y Network
  10. 10. It is very similar to the „wheel‟ structure. Everyone can interact with all Leadership is unclear as it is shared by all members  Completely connected  Decentralized network  Superior on complex tasks  More democratic, but can be very slow  Performance in simple task is low, as it takes longer time than normal. Line/Chain Network When the communication is restricted only to certain group members, but all are somehow connected. Chain is like a broken circle and thus a set to occupy peripheral position in the communication.  Leader is not clear, may be 2 or more.  Members satisfaction is better than the „wheel‟ pattern.  Works moderately well for both simple and complex tasks.  Major drawbacks are I. II. III. Do not work as a team Weak leadership Lack of Coordinated effort Circle Quite similar to the chain pattern with end 2 members also connected. Hence in the circle pattern each participant can communicate with only two others.  Members are highly connected  Positions are equally centered
  11. 11.  Circle groups work faster than wheel groups  Superior for complex tasks  All members are equally satisfied All Channel Network This network allows all group members to communicate with each other freely in group decision process. There is no specified pattern of communication. Any member can communicate with any other member of the group.  Require less time in problem solving  Yields fewer errors than networks of lower connectivity  Permits free communication  Decentralized network  All members are equally satisfied