Social Studies

Group behaviour

Meaning of Group Behaviour:

Individuals form groups. They live in groups. They move in groups. They work in groups. Groups are important. They influence work and work behaviour. They cannot be ignored. They exert significant influence on the organisation. They are inseparable from organisation. They are useful for the organisation. They form foundation of human resources. The study of group behaviour is important. Individual and group behaviour differs from each other. Group behaviour affects productivity.

The importance of group behaviour has been realized from time to time. Elton Mayo and his associates way back in 1920 conducted the famous Hawthorne experiments and came to know that the group behaviour have major impact on productivity.

Reasons for Group Behaviour:

Man is a social animal and he lives in groups, he moves in groups. So, group is inherent to human beings.

Following are the few reasons why group is essential:

  1. Management of modern organisations is making concerted efforts to introduce industrial democracy at workplace. They are using task force, project teams, work committees where workers get due representation. They participate very often in decision-making. This takes place in groups.
  1. The tasks in modern industries are becoming more complex, tedious and monotonous. To change these conditions and make the environment at workplace more lively, work committees and work groups and teams are formed to monitor the work and change.
  1. To make participative management more effective and relieve executives of petty responsibilities employees are given these responsibilities to carry on successfully and effectively. Group of employees are also given joint responsibility to carry on the work.
  1. Groups of all kinds and types are used by inviting their cooperation in all matters related to production as well as with human relations to make the organisation effective.
  1. There are several works which an individual cannot perform. To complete such tasks, group efforts are required for its completion, e.g. building of a ship, making of a movie, construction of a fly-over, a complex etc.

All these require coordinated and unified efforts of many individuals i.e. groups. A group can do the work which cannot be performed by an individual or beyond his capabilities.

  1. A group can make better judgment as compared to an individual.
  1. While accomplishing tasks group can use creative instinct and innovative ideas than a single individual.
  1. When group is working, all the benefits of division of labour accrue.
  1. Individuals in a group communicate with each other and discuss work performance and suggestions to make it better and excellent.
  1. Group efforts substantially affect individual, his attitude and behaviour.
  1. Group has the ability to satisfy the needs of its members. In a group an individual member feels secured and he can directly get technical and work related assistance. They also get special support when they are emotionally depressed.

Types of Groups:

Groups can be classified in many different ways on various bases.

Following are the basic groups:

  1. Formal Groups:

Formal groups are created as part of organisation structure to accomplish organisational tasks. A work group in a plant is the example of formal group. They are bound by hierarchical authority in the organisation. They have to follow rules, regulation and policy of the organisation. These groups are required by the system. The organisation provides a system of rules and regulation for attaining organisational objectives.

According to A.L. Stencombe, “a formal group is said to be any social arrangement in which the activities of some persons are planned by others to achieve a common purpose”.

Formal groups help in achieving goals without any difficulty. They facilitate coordination of activities and help in forming logical relationship among people and positions. They create group unity. Leonard R Sayles has subdivided formal group into command group and task group.

(a) Command Group:

Command group consists of subordinates who are directly responsible to a supervisor. Command groups are structured by the organisation. The subordinates working in enforcement department of a town planning authority are reporting to and directly responsible to the enforcement officer. This group is responsible for removal of encroachment on public land. There is a specific department established for the purpose and is busy throughout with its activities.

(b) Task Group:

Task group is formed to complete a project. This type of group is also known as task force. The job of the group is to complete the task within allotted time period. If one task is completed they are allotted new task to work with. Project teams, quality circles, audit teams are the examples of task group.

  1. Informal Groups:

Informal groups exist within the formal organisations and arise because of individuals’ social needs and desire to develop and maintain relations with people. Working at a plant or office leads to formation of informal groups. They work together and this leads to their interaction. Through interaction groups are formed. These groups are spontaneous and emotional. Keith Davis has defined informal group as, “the network of persons and social relations which is not established or required for formal organisation.”

These are the groups formed by the employees themselves at the workplace while working together. The organisation has not taken any active interest in their formation. According to M. Dalton, “informal groups are cliques.” Cliques are a group of people of different organisation levels coming together with a common interest. Cliques are horizontal, vertical, and random. Horizontal Cliques comprise people from the same rank and work area. Vertical Cliques consist of people of different organisation levels. Random Cliques are made up of employees from both horizontal and vertical lines coming together with a common interest.

Informal groups are very effective and powerful. Some managers view them harmful and disruptive to the interest of the organisation. They suspect their integrity and consider as a virtual threat. Some managers seek their help in getting the task completed quickly. They do not consider them as threat. The strength of these informal groups can be utilized for accomplishment of organisational objectives.

Informal groups are of following types:

(a) Interest Group: A group of employees coming together for attaining a common purpose. Employees coming together for payment of bonus increase in salary, medical benefits and other facilities are the examples of interest group. The people with common interest come together.

(b) Membership Group: A group of persons belonging to the same profession knowing each other e.g. teachers of the same faculty in the university.

(c) Friendship Group: A group outside the plant or office, having similar views, tastes, opinions, belonging to same age group. They form clubs and associations based on the friendship.

(d) Reference Group: It is a primary group where people shape their ideas, beliefs, values etc. They want support from the group. Family is an important reference group. A team of players playing a game is a reference group.

Again according to purposes groups can be classified into the following:

Vocational Groups:

Association of the same vocation e.g.: Class I officers association, teachers association etc.

Instructional Groups:

The people who have enrolled themselves for the same course e.g. students doing M. Tech in the same subject

Government Group:

Association formed for the governing e.g. municipal council, management board.

Religious Group:

People belonging to same religion coming together and forming a group.

Recreational Group:

Group formed with a purpose of recreation e.g. football club, cricket club etc…

Benefits of Group Behaviour:

Group is a social setting that offers knowledge, hard work and opportunities. The group influences individual member’s attitude and behaviour. A group’s effectiveness brings about organisational effectiveness which is essential for growth and prosperity of organisation. There are certain measures of group effectiveness.

They include:

(1) Productivity: Higher the productivity effective is the group. Quality and quantity of product speaks for group effectiveness,

(2) Attendance: Each group member must attend the work regularly. Absenteeism and high employee turnover speaks for laxity of the group. Fair attendance makes the group effective.

(3) Job Satisfaction: Job satisfaction motivates the group for hard work to make it more effective. Management should take steps to ensure job satisfaction of its employees.

(4) Attitude: Attitude of group members towards work also is a measure of group effectiveness and must be taken seriously. Efforts must be made to develop and nurture positive attitude of the group member.

(5) Employee Well-being: Physiological and psychological welfare of the employee keeps them fit. Efforts should be made to assure the mental and physical fitness of the employees to ensure group effectiveness.

(6) Learning: Knowledge comes through learning i.e. education, training, knowing things from fellow employee and making one suitably knowledgeable and skilled in working. This makes the group effective. Knowledge is power.

(7) Retention: Retaining the human resources makes the group effective. Firing them very often leads to chaos because every time a new person enters the group disturbing the group cohesiveness having negative effects.


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