Management Skill Berde, Csaba Management Skill


The classification of groups-the formality



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4. 7.4. The classification of groups-the formality

Many authors deal with the subject of group formality (Morvay, 1997, Carrer- Scheier, 1998). A formal group is such a group, which is established formally, and conditions and regulations for operation are assured by formal authority (Dienesné, 2003b). A typical formal group is an organizational department (Andorka, 2003). Formal groups have formal framework. They also possess formal organizational functions, which may focus on work performance, distribution or control and they also may play an important role in decision making, information collection or maintaining relationship. The informal origin of groups comes from the human social needs; rules are usually determined by social norms and value system (Torgersen-Weinstock, 1983). Formal and informal groups may be differentiated by numerous factors (Table 2):

7.2. ábra - Table 2: Differences of formal and informal groups (based on Berde et al.,1998).



An additional factor of the classification of the groups is the differentiation of groups by resource allocation, dominance and dependence, this is why a group may be strong or not, influential or directed. Corey (1995) classified open or closed groups, which is obviously in connection with the task realization. A group is usually a changing, dynamic whole. Groups may be permanent or temporary. We may witness such permanent, stable groups, in the agriculture (such as an animal caring brigade). A temporary, changing group is such one, the composition and task of which are changing and they participate in the production of numerous products (such as the harvesting group).

5. 7.5. Internal interaction and dynamics

Internal processes are usually regarded as group dynamics. Professional literatures (such as Lewin, 1975) most frequently concern with social exchange theory, group development stages, group structure, group cohesion, the relationships between status and role.

Individuals rarely become group members accidentally. A simple notification of the existence of the group influences the individual, its behavior. Blau (1964) and Homans (1961) believe that accession to a group and participation in a group formation delivers such personal attitude, where the individual examines the group membership in the light of benefits and drawbacks. The individual weight these factors, but we also must aware that it is also valid for the group itself when the membership rises. The social exchange theory revealed that we only join a group when it provides the maximum of the valuable, precious rewards and means the slightest possible costs for us. Table 3 illustrates the most frequent benefits and drawbacks of group membership:

7.3. ábra - Table 3. Benefits and drawbacks of group membership (based on Blau (1964) and Homans (1961))



Lebon (1910), and shortly Freud (1920) developed theories considering the dynamics and development of task realizing groups. Group development was also responsible for the changing performance of the famous Hawthorne experiments (Mayo, 1933). The first, detailed theory for group development was published in the “Theory of group development” by Benis-Shepard (1956). Sheriff (1969) later described transitional stages in the process between the collective of individual and the group. Groups go through 4 development stages in the understanding of Tuckman (1965) and this is the most typical and well-spread approach in this subject:



  • Forming. The collective is not regarded as a group yet, it is only a set of people. This stage is characterized by negotiations about the objectives of the group.

  • Storming. Many groups experience this conflict rich stage, where original mutual objectives, methods, managerial style, roles, work and behavior norms are questioned and debated, or refined. In this stage, many personal, individual aspirations are observed and a certain level personal hostility may arise. Sometimes this stage in not experienced, and when not negotiated, problems and doubts will equally exist under the real operation and will prevent practical work.

  • Norming. Norms are basic operational and behavioral rules for of the group. In this phase basic norms and operational practice will be established, such as how, when and where to operate, how to trust in each other, how open we should be and others.

  • Performing. Only those groups arrive at this stage, which pass through all the previous stages and may perform efficiently on its total value. This phase is characterized by the actual performance.  The author later revealed an additional phase of the adjourning. As the group project ends, the group disbands and dissolves in the adjournment phase.

Structure usually means the vertical and hierarchal positions internally for us (together with norms, scale (Bakacsi, 2007)).

Status is the relative position or state, which is typical of an individual inside of a group, it explains the mutual relationship among members and hierarchal arrangement of the members. We consider it to be the vertical position of the individual internally. Status may be recognized easily and enables to weight people around us together with the scale of appeal and attraction Mead (1973). Even the most democratic organizations have hierarchy, differentiation of people. The behavioral technique required to fill in a status is the role, which includes attitudes, values, and behavioral samples. Role is the behavioral expectation of group members (Farkas, 1997).  If status is the vertical role then role must be the horizontal one and determines the horizontal position of the individual. Many classifications of the roles were revealed lately. Bakacsi (2007) described task orientated roles, relationship orientated roles and individual related roles:



  • Task orientated roles: they ease and coordinate decision-making and task realization, such as initiating, objective definition, coordination, information gathering and supply, etc.)

  • Relationship orientated roles: they promote the survival and development of the group, help to maintain togetherness, good atmosphere and welfare of the members (such as mediation, encouragement, follow, observation, scapegoat finding, etc.)

  • Individual related roles: the emphasis on the individual instead of the group (blocking, acknowledgement, dominance, dependency, etc.)

Performance usually depends on the harmony of the task and relationship related roles. Those groups perform comparatively poorly, where individual roles prevail. Roles may be temporary (such as at school) or permanently (such as an adult role). A status usually include a whole series of roles, and the conditions for role set are suitable for the explanation of why an individual – in a complex, open form of society – tries to realize a dedicated role sample or a series of that (Merton, 1957). The examination of roles is a preferred subject of social psychology experiments. Through the classic, famous prison experiment in Stanford University, Zimbardo et al, (1973) faithfully demonstrated that individuals may identify themselves with predefined roles. Volunteers were selected (22) for the experiment and some of them were appointed to be prisoners, others were appointed as guards. Some formal requirements were defined in their agreements (such as uniform) but no behavioral rules were determined. Communication soon became official and impersonal, and some less direct forms of aggression were soon experienced from the guards. Identification with the defined rules soon turned into abnormal, the experience had to be terminated sooner than expected, at the end, prisoners were delighted and the guards were disappointed. Other articles of the experience leader (Zimbardo, 2000; Zimbardo, 2003) deeply described the individual influencing effects of the roles in diverse situations.

One of the other most referred experiment of the roles was done by Milgram (1974), which first was published in 1963, in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. As researchers of Yale they wanted to know how obedience to the authority influences human behavior (decision-making). It is obvious that millions of people were slaughtered between 1933 and 1945 by Germans. These cruel actions might be developed in a single mind but its realization in large scale required thousands, obedient people (Milgram, 1963). To reveal the nature of it researchers have selected 40 participants by ads and direct letters, and asked them to participate in memory experiments. Considering age, they were between 20 and 50, and participants were post officers, high school teachers, distributors, engineers and physical workers. Only one of them has not finished elementary school but others had diploma and PhD degree. Basic conditions of the experiment are illustrated in Figure 1.





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