Behavior in Groups and Teams in Organizations – Research Perspectives and Gaps

The Chapters on Groups in Textbooks of Luthans and Robbins are used as the basis for developing the understanding of the research output on behavior of people in groups and teams in organizations.

Learning Objectives


Describe the basic nature of groups; the dynamics of group formation and the various types of groups.

Discuss the implications that research on groups has for the practice of management.

Explain the important dynamics of informal groups and organizations.

Present the newly emerging team concept and practice.

Stephen Robbins

1. Define group and distinguish the different types of groups.
2. Identify the five stages of group development
3. Show how role requirements change in different situations.
4. Demonstrate how norms and status exert influence on an individual’s behavior.
5. Show how group size affects group performance.
6. Contrast the benefits and disadvantages of cohesive groups.
7. Contrast the strengths and weaknesses of group decision making.
8. Compare the effectiveness of interacting, brainstorming, nominal, and electronic groups.
9. Evaluate evidence for cultural differences in group status and social loafing as well as the effects of diversity in group.

Define group and distinguish the different types of groups.


We define a group as two or more individuals, interacting and interdependent, who have come together to achieve particular objectives.

Groups can be either formal or informal.

By a formal group, we mean one defined by the organization’s structure, with designated work assignments establishing tasks. In formal groups, behavior of persons is stipulated in some respects by the formal group managers to achieve organization goals.  Formal groups are categorized into command and task groups by Robbins.

People in organizations may come together and form groups to pursue activities they are interested in informally.  Thus interest group may be formed informally among members of organizations. Groups also develop within organizations because individual members have one or more common characteristics. These groups can be called friendship groups.


In OB, the concept is applied to the dynamics of members in both formal work groups, informal groups of the organization and teams.

A comprehensive definition of group would say that if a group exists in an organization, its members

1. Are motivated to join.
2. Perceive the group as a unified unit of interacting people.
3. Contribute in various amounts to the group processes (that is, some people contribute more time or energy to the group than do others.)
4. Reach agreements and have disagreements through various forms of interaction.

Team is concept that is being separated from Group.

Team has shared leadership roles.

Team has individual and mutual accountability.


The group is an important sociological unit of analysis in the subject of organizational behavior.

Types of Groups

Simplest group is a two person group (dyad).

Small groups and primary groups: Small group has the criterion of small size such that there is face-to-face interaction and communication among all members of the group. Primary group is a small group with the additional criteria that there is a comradeship, loyalty, and common sense of values among members. An example of primary group is family. The work group of a person is also a primary group.

All primary groups are small groups. But all small groups are not primary groups.

Coalition: Coalition is a group of interacting individuals and is formed by members for a specific purpose. But it does not have a formal internal structure. Still its members act as a group for the specific purpose for which it is formed.

Membership groups and Reference groups: A person is a member in the membership group. The group in which he wants to be a member is a reference group to him. Many times persons want to display the values of their reference groups.
There are many formally designated work groups, such as committees, in the modern organization. There are functional departmental committees and now cross functional committees.  Team have emerged as the most important type of formal group in today’s organization.

Research Issues to be Explored.

Is the definition of group adequate for formal and informal groups.
Are types of groups categorization or typology of groups cover all possible groups in organization adequately?

23rd May Management Knowledge Revision Plan
Groups and Teams