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Group Dynamics-stages, theories, elements


Bruce W Tuckman is an educational psychologist who first described the stages of group development in 1965

  • Forming: This is characterized by the great deal of uncertainty about groups purpose , structure and the leadership . Members are testing waters to determine th type of action needed or behavior required .The stage is completed when the members have begun to think that they are the parts of the group.
  • Storming: The members accept the existence of the group but they are still resisting the constraints the group poses on them. There is conflict as to who will control the group. When this stage completes there does a relatively clear hierarchy of leadership exist in the group.
  • Norming: This is the one in which there is close relationship between the members and the group demonstrates cohesiveness. There is sense of group identify and this stage is complete when the group structure solidifies and the group has assimilated a common set of expectations defining the behavior.
  • Performing: The structure at this point is fully functional and accepted. The group energy is has moved from getting to know and understand each other to performing a task at hand. For permanent work groups this is the last stage. But for the temporary committees, teams, task forces, and similar groups the ADJOURNING STAGE is the last.
  • Adjourning: The groups prepare to disband. The high task performance is no longer the required goal. The attention is towards the wrapping up of the activities and responses of the group members .The responses of group members vary in this stage. Some are upbeat, basking in the groups’ accomplishment. Some are depressed over the loss of colleagues and friends made during the course.


Most basic theory is of Propinquity which asserts that people tend to affiliate with other because of spatial or geographical closeness. People from the same area or city tend to be more bound to each other.

  • The other theory of importance is Social System Theorygiven by Homans. The theory corporate the interrelatedness of elements of activities, interaction , sentiments and the people usually interact to solve problems, reduce tension , attain goals and achieve balance. The workers interacting in this way in organizational setting tends to form groups.
  • Balance theorygiven by Newcomb says that the groups get formed when the individuals are attracted to each another because of their identical attitude towards the common objects or goals. The attraction and attitudes have to balance in this concept because if both are too strong or too vague or mild, the group interrelationships can disappear.
  • Exchange theoryis based on rewards and its cost. The interaction between members is taken as reward and if any relationship which is not rewarding may be costly enough to cause tensions.


  •  Group structure
  • Group Communication
  • Content and process
  • Task vs. relationship
  • Decision
  • Influence
  • Membership
  • Feelings
  • Group atmosphere
  • Group maturity
  • Power and norms
  • Group Cohesiveness

Group structure

It refers to the underlying order of the group. It describes the boundaries, communication and decision making processes, and authority relationships in a group.The structure of the group offers it stability and helps to regulate behavioral and interactional patters in a group.

Group Communication

The communication pattern within the group reveals how the group approaches its tasks and psychosocial functions.

  • Intrapersonal communication- occurs within the individual.
  • Interpersonal communication – occurs between two people or in a small group.
  • Public communication – It is the interaction with large group of people.
  • Latent- Latent communication is the content that is not discussed, occurs on an emotional level and seldom verbalized such as hidden agenda.
  • Manifest communication-Manifest content involving spoken words. Groups are most effective when their latent and manifest content are same.

Content and process

  • What is being said during the discussion is content.
  • How the group is handling its communication is the process. (Who talks how much or who talks to whom.)

Task vs. relationship

All groups have two basic needs or functions: the need to work on or complete a task or a goal, and the need to satisfy some psychosocial or emotional need or needs of its members.

  • The group’s task is the job to be done.
  • Relationship means how well people in the group work together.

Task roles

  • Initiator:proposing tasks or goals; defining a group problem; suggesting ways to solve a problem.
  • Information or opinion giver:providing relevant information; giving suggestions and ideas.
  • Clarifier and elaborator: clearing up confusion; defining terms; indicating alternatives and issues before the group.
  • Summarizer:pulling together related ideas; offering a decision or conclusion for the group to accept or reject.
  • Energizer:who stimulates and prods the group to act and raise the level of their actions.
  • Coordinator:who clarifies and coordinates ideas, suggestions and activities of the group members.

Relationship roles

  • Harmonizer:who mediates, harmonizes and resolve conflicts.
  • Gate keeper:helping to keep communication channels open; facilitating the participation of others.
  • Encourager:being friendly, warm, and responsive to others.
  • Compromiser:when one’s own idea or status is involved in a conflict, offering a compromise which yields status; admitting error.
  • Follower:who accepts the group‘s ideas and listens to their discussion and decisions.

Self-oriented roles

  • Dominator:tries to lead group and assert authority; is generally autocratic.
  • Negativist:rejects ideas suggested by others; takes a negative attitude on issues; argues frequently and unnecessarily;
  • Aggressor:tries to achieve importance in group; boasts; criticizes or blames others; shows anger or irritation against group or individuals;
  • Playboy:is not interested in the group except as it can help him or her to have a good time.
  • Storyteller:likes to tell long “fishing stories” which are not relevant to the group.