What is Small Group Interaction? • A Definition • Empowerment • A Conceptual Orientation for Small Groups • General Systems Approach • General Systems Concepts • Review of the Systems Approach • Summary
A Definition • Small group interaction • The process by which three or more members of a group exchange verbal and nonverbal messages in an attempt to influence one another. • Team • “A high performance task group whose members are actively interdependent and share common performance objectives” (Francis and Young).
A Definition • Why Study Small Groups? • Modern organizations are undergoing a radical transformation designed to better utilize human potential, primarily through the increased use of small groups. • Small groups can help you in college. • Learning to work effectively in small groups can save you time and money. • Few leaders in today’s complex society can succeed on their own without the help of competent and committed team members.
Empowerment • Modern organizations are basing multibillion-dollar decisions, in part, on the use of teams. • Empowerment • A leadership style that enables the leader to utilize more effectively the talents, abilities, and knowledge of others and, at the same time, to increase his or her available time to work on more strategic activities.
Empowerment • Empowerment has certain inherent advantages: • Greater productivity • Quicker response to problems • Improved quality of communication between groups • Increased individual motivation • Improved overall organizational effectiveness
Empowerment • Kirkman and Rosen (1999) found evidence that empowerment has four very closely related dimensions: • Potency • Meaningfulness • Autonomy • Impact
A Conceptual Orientation for Small Groups • Small group interaction is very complicated and involves a large number of factors that act and interact simultaneously. • These factors are in continual state of flux. • Any attempt to provide a conceptual orientation for small group interaction or any social process must be highly simplified.
General Systems Approach • An open system such as a group is defined as an organized set of interrelated and interacting parts that attempts to maintain its own balance amid the influences of its surrounding environment. • The consequences, or outputs, of the group are fed back into the system through the feedback loop. • Systems analysis has become a particularly popular way of analyzing human behavior in organizations.
General Systems Concepts • All processes consist of a cycle of inputs that lead to outputs, or outcomes. • Bellinger believes most organizations focus on the gap between inputs and outputs, resulting in the creation of barriers to output. • Focusing on outputs and the necessary inputs to achieve those outputs is critical to prevent getting stuck in the gap (Bellinger 2004).
General Systems Concepts The 10 general systems concepts that apply to small group communications are: • Input • Throughout • Output • Cycles • Negative Entropy
General Systems Concepts The 10 general systems concepts that apply to small group communications are: 6. Feedback 7. Dynamic Equilibrium 8. Differentiation 9. Integration 10. Equifinality
General Systems Concept Synthesis of Group Models
Review of the Systems Approach • The Tubbs Model of Small Group Interaction: • Helps students grasp the conceptual overview. • Shows the dynamic interactive nature of all the variables in the model and avoids the cause- and-effect thinking of earlier models. • Explicitly shows how consequences, or outputs, of one small group experience can become background factors or inputs for the next group experience.
Review of the Systems Approach • Relevant Background Factors • Personalities Team Dynamics: “often-unseen ‘natural forces’ that strongly influence how a tea reacts, behaves, or performs” (Team Technology 2004). • Age • Health • Values
Review of the Systems Approach • Internal Influences • Physical environment • Type of group including virtual groups • Status and power • Leadership • Group norms • Decision making • Conflict
Review of the Systems Approach • Consequences • Solutions to problems. • Improvements in interpersonal relations. • Improvements in the flow of information between and among people. • Organizational change. Consequences are inevitable when outputs are the goal.
Summary • This chapter presented definitions of the language and key terms unique to the study of small groups. • The Tubbs Model is a conceptual model that illustrates and defines the relationships of all the important variables in a small group.