How and why groups form
How they influence the behaviour of large organisations???




1.1 Introduction
Throughout history people have joined together in groups to accomplish a wide range of purposes. Men and women form personal relationships to procreate, to raise families. These family groups are probably among the oldest and most basic types of groups but there are many more: decision making groups, social groups, political groups and so on. It is then obvious that a large proportion of human behaviour occurs in groups. Governments form groups, companies set up groups and university students form groups to undertake large assignments.


2.1 Definition of small groups
There are many authors that give their definitions of what a small group is and what it consists of. These definitions are not necessarily unique, if fact a lot of them overlap. A popular definition of a group was coined by Bales:

"A small group is defined as any number of persons engaged in interaction with one another in a single face to face meeting or a series of meetings, in which each member receives some impression or perception of each other member distinct enough so that he can, either at the time or in later questioning, give some reaction to each others as an individual person, even though it be only to recall that the other was present" (Bales, 1950, p.33).

Other definitions place more weight on motivation as the essential characteristic of group:

"We define "group" as a collection of individuals whose existence as a collection is rewarding to the individuals"(Bass, 1960, p. 390)

This definition implies the ends of a satisfactory reward as being the most critical element for identifying the aggregate as a group (in other words the carrot in front of the nose motivation!).
However, for the purpose of this assignment a group at its most basic level can be defined as:

"A group is two or more interdependent individuals interacting and influencing each other in a way that each person influences and is influenced by each other person, in collective pursuit of a common goal" (Personal hybrid definition influenced by: Shaw 1981, Bass 1960)




Also, the wording in this assignment indicates that the type of groups we are dealing with is small groups. Therefore it would be legitimate to ask the question, "...how small is a small group?" Actually, there is no clear-cut dividing line between small and large groups. However it is sometimes thought of like this, a group of ten or less people is certainly a small group and one with 30 members is considered a large group. But there is a grey area between ten and thirty where the appropriate designation is unclear and often made on bases other than the number of group members. For example, a group of thirty or more persons might function as a small group, if all its members where closely related to one another and highly motivated towards the achievement of a common goal (eg. terrorist groups). Fortunately, the maximum size of a small group does not become a problem as the majority of research studies deal with groups of five or fewer members (Shaw 1981).


3. How And Why Small Groups Form

3.1 Formation
Small groups can be formed for a variety of reasons. They can be formed to achieve specific goals or a common purpose or merely to satisfy the social needs of the individual or especially those belonging (these reasons will be looked at in the next section). This is normally referred to as group formation. Group formation is not just the physical birth of any group, but is an ongoing process that exists through the whole lifetime of the group. With communication and
relationships obviously being imperative to the life of any group, a changing formative process must be active. Of course the modifications to the formation of the group will be larger early in the life of the group.

3.2 Factors and influences in Group Formation
How do groups form? Why do groups form? Why do people join groups? At a general level, we can say groups form because of some individual need. However there are of course many other factors at play, such as: (1) attraction to the members of the group (interpersonal attraction), (2) attraction to the activities of the group, (3) attraction to the