Key Points and Discussion by nUg48Z6D


									                                 Unit 6, Session 1

Welcome to our new unit on groups. These two chapters are full of interesting
information, studies and theories. They really describe the core of our class--the group
and the organization. Because this is the introduction to the new unit, this section is
going to be a bit longer, but I will compensate for the additional reading with a much
smaller assignment!

The Group

If you go back to Unit 1, you will find a more comprehensive definition of a group than is
given by your author. Of course, there is no "right" definition, but the Brillhart definition
given in Week 1 has some interesting additions that I think are valid. To be a group, or
an organization, a collection of people must have a history and a future. That is,
"groupness" only develops over time. If a group has only recently formed, and if there is
no expectation that the group will be together for enough time to bond, the reactions of
the members will not be the same as a real group. The group also needs a unified
purpose, a set of common rules, a "culture," structure and relationships.

One issue that was raised in Chapter 1 is whether this definition holds in the computer
age. It probably does not. The face-to-face (f2f) aspect of this definition must be
modified. Computer chat rooms or other forms of group interaction on the internet
contain aspects of groupness that were not described in the pre-virtual communication
age. There has not been a lot of investigation of this issue, but some initial research on
this subject shows that the anonymity of the web and the lack of communication richness
(i.e. non-verbal cues) do change some of the qualities of groupness in a virtual setting.

Research on groups has been inadequate in other areas as well. For example, a recent
analysis showed that over 70% of the participants in research projects on groups were
college freshman and sophomores. For this "convenience sample," inferences have been
made about group behavior for the entire population. It is obvious why these individuals
were chosen: they had to participate in the research because they were students in basic
sociology or psychology classes at our institutions of higher learning.

Given the definition of a group, do you think college freshmen and sophomores, who
participate for part of their grade, are appropriate subjects for research on groups? How
long does it take to become a group? If a collection of people has achieved "groupness,"
will they react differently than a collection of people that is not a group? Why? What
differences would you expect?
The development of Groups

Your text has an excellent section on the five steps groups go through in their
development. This is Bruce Tuckman's 5 stages of group development. Tuckman did not
view this from a business perspective. Let me add a sixth phase.

In a business setting, groups are generally formed for a particular purpose. Before the
group adjourns, the group needs to go through one additional stage: Implementing.
Social scientists looking at groups tend to focus on group dynamics, and not the outputs
or purposes of the group. This definition is insufficient for business purposes. When we
form committees, groups, teams, etc., it is done for a specific purpose, and assuring the
implementation of group decisions, goal, objectives, or other outcomes is an integral part
of the reason the group was developed. More on this later.

Group Cohesion

On page 306 of your text group cohesion is discussed. Is cohesion necessary for a group
to be effective? Under what conditions is group cohesion helpful? When can it be
dangerous? Would a random of group people be any less effective in decision making
than a true group?

Negative outcomes of groups

       Social Pressure: Your text discusses the Standford prision study (page 306)
       This discusses the role of social pressure. Does this remind you of anything?

       Obeying orders: Your text does not discuss the Milgram studies:

       Google other links for further information.

       This is a case of group members following orders by individuals in authority. To
       what extent will we obey orders? Can we use the Nuremburg Defense?

       See also Daniel Goldhagen's book, "Hitler's Willing Executioners"
       Halo Effect (Hawthorne Effect): See Page 308 of your textbook. The Hawthorne
       effect happens regularly. You can't observe something without changing it.

       Social Loafing: See page 316.

Do exercise: Death of a Princess

To top