Theories of Group Formation
- Propinquity Theory
The term propinquity means nearness. The theory states that individuals affiliate with one another because of spatial or geographical proximity. Thus in organizational context, individuals working together tend to form a group with others more easily as compared to with individuals working relatively at a distant place. This theory appears to explain the group formation process based in nearness. However, it does not consider more important issues in group formation which are much more complex than nearness. Nearness is only a facilitating factor for group formation and not the reason for it. The drawback of this theory is that it is not analytical and unable to explain the complex aspect of group formation.
- Homan’s Interaction Theory
This Theory was propounded by George C. Homans. According to him “ The more activities persons share, the more numerous will be their interactions and the stronger will be their shared activities and sentiments .” Thus Homans’s theory is based on three components which are activities, interactions and sentiments. These are directly related to each other. The members of a group share activities and interact with one another not just because of physical proximity, but also to accomplish group goals.
- Balance Theory
Propounded by Theodore New Comb which states that – “ Persons are attracted with one another on the basis of similar attitudes towards commonly relevant objects and goals. Once a relationship is formed it strives to maintain a symmetrical balance between the attraction and the common attitudes. If an imbalance occurs attempts are made to restore the balance, If balance cannot be restored, the relationship dissolves. “
This theory however does not explain the full view of group formation as mere similarity of attitudes does not necessarily lead to group formation. Further there are other reasons for group formation besides similarity of attitudes.
- Exchange Theory
Propounded by Thibaut and Kelly. This theory is based on reward-cost outcomes of interaction between employees. Exchange theory of group formation suggests that an individual will (or will not) join a group on the basis of outcomes of reward and cost. Reward for joining a group is in the form of gratifying the needs while cost is in the form of anxiety, frustration, embarrassment, and fatigue. It reward is equal to, or more than cost the individual will join the group. In reverse case he will not join the group. Propinquity, interaction and common attitudes all have roles in the exchange theory.
Other theories related to group formation
Stage theory of group development assume that all teams go through the same progression of stages. Whereas some theories have observed that all teams need not follow the same sequence of stages. Bales in year 1966 has proposed an equilibrium model, that is based on the premise that group members strive to maintain a balance between task oriented actions. And emotionally expressive behaviours. The group is concerned about both task completion, and maintain relationships among the team members. The team addresses these two concerns as and when they arise, in sequence, in cycles, or even simultaneously at any stage. Another recurring phase model is the Punctuated equilibrium model proposed by Gersick. According to this model groups do not necessarily progress in a linear manner from one step to another in a predetermined sequence but alternate between periods of inertia with little visible progress towards goal achievement punctuated by bursts of energy as the work groups develop. The performance happens in short bursts and during the slumber period the team and its members are busy proving their points of view. Building relationships with each other, resolving conflicts and so forth.
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