Group Leadership Skills

By Carolyn Chambers Clark | Go to book overview

2
Basic Group Concepts and Process

GROUP PROCESS THEORIES AND RESEARCH

Although groups have been studied for centuries, it was not until 1890 that James put forward the theory of social identity. In 1897, Durkeim published his classic work Suicide, showing that an individual's action can be explained by social forces. The first laboratory experiment took place a few years later.


Group Processes

In the 1920s, the famous studies at the Hawthorne plant showed the “Hawthorne effect” or how group processes dramatically influence production when one group is given special attention from researchers. By 1936, Sherif had demonstrated that a purely social phenomenon, a social norm, could be created in the laboratory. In 1937, Lewin, Lippitt and White studied group members' reactions to autocratic leaders (task-oriented people who decide what needs to be done and then work hard to convince others to reach the same decision), democratic leaders (who look to the group for direction, promote cohesive group functioning, and train others to assume leadership), or laissezfaire leaders (who provide information and materials, but do not give direction, exert control, or evaluate results).

By the 1940's researchers and theorists began to understand group process in terms of fluidity and/or order, and many of the crucial developments in the field occurred from the late 1940s to the early 1960s (Whitaker, 2001). In 1946, Bales started work on his Interpersonal Process Analysis, a way to observe and categorize actions of small problem-solving groups. He eventually developed 12 mutually exclusive categories: shows solidarity, shows tension release, agrees, gives suggestions, gives opinion, gives orientation, asks for orientation, asks for opin

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