GROUP PROCESS Chapter 8
Overview • Group Process Perspectives • Functional Approach – 3 Explanations • Interactional Approach • RESEARCH FOCUS • Relationship Between Group Process & Group Output • Possible Phases in Group Discussion
Perspecitives/Paradigms REVIEW • Conflict – Relational Perspective • Conformity & Deviance – Structural • Cohesion – Structural & Relational • Group Process • Communication in decision-making groups • Functional Approach (deviant of structural) • Interactional Approach (deviant of relational)
Functional Approach to Group Processes • Functional perspective concerns the behaviors of people in a social system • FUNCTIONS = GOALS • Maintenance • Task performance • “Any social system has a set of goals toward which it directs it actions” • Primary goal: SURVIVE & MAINTAIN • Members perform the functions the group needs • Positive & Negative Functions • Facilitate or prevent the group from reaching its goals • Types of Functions
Discussion Functions • Functional Roles— (Benne & Sheats, 1948) • Group Task Roles (Table 8.1) • Group Maintenance Roles (Table 8.2) • Individual Roles • “Equilibrium Problem” - TASK (Bales, 1950) • Task and Maintenance Extremes • Managed by developing properties to balance the extremes • Sequential Task Problems • ORIENTATION – common understanding and definition of task • EVALUATION – develop common values regarding what a good solution must accomplish. • CONTROL – find best solution for the task, using power and influence relationships among its members • Bales’ IPA (Interactional Process Analysis) (Table 8.3) • “Essential Functions” (Hirokawa, 1982)
Hirokawa’s Functional Perspective • Four Essential Functions of Small Group Decision Making • Ability to Analyze the Problem • Ability to Identify Appropriate Criteria for Making a Decision • Ability to Develop Alternative Choices • Ability to Evaluate Positive and Negative Aspects of Alternative Choices • Accounts for 60-70% of the Variance • Quality of Decision should be determined by people who are impacted by the decision.
Hirokawa’s Functional Perspective • Application of Method to Communication Functions • “Action Relationships” • Ladder of Abstraction (Figure 8.1, pg. 9) • Relationships among levels are flexible • Functions are ACTIONS • The “Act-Tree” and the Three Proposals • Theories of Communicative Functions RELATE to Group Performance
Functional Approach Summary • Levels of Functions (low, middle, high) are important • Theories should not “mix” levels of abstraction • Group performance and functions are not all related in the same way. • Functions from different levels perform differently, and any theory about group performance must account for this!
Interactional Approaches to Group Process • Investigate group patterns that form over time. • Repetitive communication sequences become patterned over time • Systems exist when a number of objects are interrelated • Human Systems Model (HSM) • Objects are People • Study Relationships AMONG People • Interact Systems Model (ISM) – “Interactionalists” • Units of communication (ACTS) are the objects that interrelate • Focus is on recurring patterns of these acts • INTERACT – a system of two “acts” • Q: “Are utterances in group discussion probabilistically related?” • Inductive (theory generating) research
Interactional Approach Summary • Not Particularly Helpful • Inductive – theory generating • Deductive – theory driven • Theories would not have told us anything particularly useful • Did not focus on output variables
Group-Process Research • Study relationship between group interaction and group output • Q1: Does group process relate to group output? • Q2: Can scientists divide the process of group discussion into a series of phases?
Relationship Between Group Process & Group Output • Bales – groups use communication in different ways to perform the balancing act between task and maintenance roles • Method – three criteria • Who said it? • To whom what is said? • What is the function of the act? • Results • A successful group’s output is based on the proper proportion and sequence of communicative functions. • Low Level Functions
Relationship Between Group Process & Group Output • Hirokawa (high level functions) • Confounds • Trainers looking for functions • “halo” and “horn” effects • Conclusions • Groups need a small set of “critical functions” to make successful decisions • When communicative statements help groups meet these requirements, they bring about a high-quality decision
Relationship Between Group Process & Group Output • Hewes (1986) • Group discussion does not affect group output • Systems Model • Inputs-Process-Output Model • Synergy • Interdependence • Importance of Individual Aspects • Thinking Aloud • Vacuous Acknowledgments • How “good” groups appear “good.”
QUESTION • Does small group discussion consist of more than vacuous acknowledgments and thinking out loud?
Answer • YES…well sometimes, yes! • There are situations in which group process has no effect on output • Other situations where PROCESS is CRITICAL for group performance! • Important Variables • Group homogeneity • Task complexity
Possible PHASES in Group Discussion • Concerns the manner in which group members conduct their discussion. • Bales’ Phase Hypothesis • Orientation, Evaluation, Control • Tuckman’s Four Phase Model (p. 23) • Groups pass through four phases, with each phase containing both maintenance and task phases that run roughly concurrently • Linear Phase Model of Group Process – GROUP STRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT • Scheidel & Crowell (1964) • Linear – never go back to earlier stages • Spiral Model – GROUP IDEA DEVELOPMENT • Fisher’s SYNTHESIS MODEL “The Four Phase Sequence Model” • FUNCTIONS (interpretation, substantiation, clarification, modification, evaluation) • VALENCE (favorable, unfavorable, ambiguous) • Poole focused on how groups “SHOULD” make decisions • Groups simultaneously progress along a series of tracks, with each track representing a feature of group processes (TASK, MAINTENANCE, TOPIC PROCESS • Pavitt’s attempts to refine theory(ies) of group development
Possible Phases - Summary • Linear Phase Model is too simplistic! • Cyclical Processes occur as a group discusses specific proposals • Large disparities exist in the number and order of phases that individual groups go through during discussion.
Summary • Group Process Perspectives • Functional Approach (concerned with the ways groups complete their tasks and maintain their cohesiveness) • Interactional Approach (concerned with discussion patterns and how group patterns form over time) • RESEARCH FOCUS • Relationship Between Group Process & Group Output • The ways groups utilize types of statements during group discussion – (Possible Phases in Group Discussion) • Linear phase models • Spiral (Cyclical phase) models