Group Dynamics: A Social Process

The social process by which people interact face to face in small group is called group dynamics. The word 'dynamics' comes from the Greek word meaning 'force', hence group dynamics refers to the study of forces operating within a group. Two important historical landmarks in our understanding of small groups are the research of Elton mayo and his associates in the 1920s and 1930s and the experiments in the 1930s of Kurt Lewin, the founder of the group dynamics movement. Mayo showed that workers tend to establish informal groups that affect job satisfaction and effectiveness. Lewin showed that different kinds of leadership produced different responses in groups. 

Groups have properties of their own that are different from the properties of the individuals who make up the group. The special properties of groups are illustrated by a simple lesson in mathematics. Suppose we say 'one plus one equals three' 1+1=3. In the world of mathematics that is a logical error. But in the world of group dynamics, it is entirely rational to say 'one plus one equals three'. In a group, there is no such thing as only two people, for no two people can be considered without including their relationship, and that relationship is the third element in the equation.

Thus, 'group dynamics' refers to the nature and extent of dynamism in a group, i.e. the capacity of a group to adopt new ideas and to change itself with times and circumstances. Similarly, group dynamics is concerned with the interaction of individual face-to-face relationship. It indicates the capacity of a group to react to a change. It has been found by social scientists that a change is normally resisted by a group and acceptance of change is largely as soon as group function rather than individual matter. A change becomes easier and effective if the group as a whole accepts it. A dynamic group accepts the change more readily because it has the capacity of moving with the times. Groups facilitate the co-operation, mutual understanding, companionship, supportive relations and friendship. Work groups also provide security for the individual member from pressure from other groups. 

There are some definitions given by different experts which are as follows: 

"Group dynamics is asocial process by which people interacts face in small group." – John W Newtorm & Keith Devis 

"The term 'group dynamics' refers to the complex of forces that determine group formation, its size and structure, conflict and change, cohesiveness, interaction and behavior." - Kurt Lewin 

"Group dynamic refers to the study of the interaction of the members of a group." – Kelly 

From the above definitions, group dynamics is a social process by which people interact face-to-face in small groups. It is the study of the forces operating within a group. Group dynamics is the study of the social processes by which people interact with each other in a group and influence the behavior of each other. Similarly, group dynamics encompasses the dynamics of interaction patterns within the group, the subtle and the non-subtle pressures exerted by group members, the manner in which decisions of all these will enable managers to manage groups effectively leading to organizational effectiveness.

Developed and Enforcement of Group Norms 

Group norm is standard of behavior. In other words, groups norm is a rule that tells the individual how to behave in a particular group. Thus, group norms identify the standards against which the behaviors of group members know what they should or should not do. Norms could be formal or could be informal. 

According to Schein, there are pivotal and relevant group norms while the pivotal norms are confirmed by every member of the group, the relevant norms are desirable to be confirmed by the members. With increase in the size of the group, the acceptability of norms tends to lessen. Small deviation of norms is allowed. However in case of extreme deviation, the deviator get punished. For example, when the union is on strike, if its member attending to work are punished by being boycotted by the group. Hence, norms serve as the basis for behavior of group members. They predict and control the behavior of member in groups.

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