This chapter has discussed theconcept of the small group and has illustrated the importance of the smallgroup within the broader topic of organizational behavior. Small group has beendefined as a collection of interacting individuals who have common goals,similar values, and a structure of relationships. Groups come in a variety offorms, depending on the classification schema utilized.
The problem of defining the sizeof a small group is particularly troublesome. Because of their uniqueness,dyads and triads are considered special cases. Consequently, the main body ofsmall-group theory that we discussed was related to groups of four or more, upto some theoretical limit where personal interaction is no longer possible.
One of the more importantcharacteristics discussed is the nature of normative behavior in groups. Anextremely complex relationship exists among such factors as group norms,conformity, cohesiveness, and group performance. Since performance is amanager’s primary concern, care has been taken to examine thisinterrelationship in detail and specific examples given of ways in whichknowledge of this process has been used by the managers of organizations.
No discussion of small groupbehavior is complete without an analysis of the structures that inevitablydevelop in the group context. For this reason, role relations have beenexamined, including clarity, ambiguity, and conflict, along with the extremelyrelevant topic of status. In all cases, care has been taken to report the hardresearch data that have developed with respect to these topics.
One is too familiar with the factthat the role expectations and status hierarchies exist in all kinds of groups.A careful reading of the research should help to understand why this is trueand even necessary for proper group functioning. Recent attention has beengiven to other topics involving group interaction. One of the important areashas to do with the effectiveness of groups as problem solvers. After thediscussion the pros and cons of individual versus group problem solving,guidelines were offered for effectively using a combined interacting-nominalgroup process.
Remarkson sociometry and interaction process analysis were included as methods ofunderstanding group behavior. There are other methods of analyzinginterpersonal behavior. Particular methods were selected primarily for purposesof illustration – to show that there are indeed systematic techniques forgaining insights into small-group phenomena.