Group Development
Comm. 332


Dec 15, 2003


Group Development is the process a group experiences while forming. All decision making groups operate on two dimensions, task and social. Group development occurs in periodic stages. There are four stages of group development, forming, storming, norming, and performing. I will discuss all of these aspects of group development and then relate some personal experiences I have dealing with group development.


Groups that make decisions are impacted by two dimensions, social and task. Task dimension is the actual work done by the group and the impact the task has on the group. The social dimension is related to the relationships that form between group members and the group as a whole. Because all aspects of a group are interconnected the degree of concern for a task will affect the social aspect of the group. Conversely the degree of concern for the group\'s relationship will affect the group\'s accomplishment of the task. Each dimesion has an output to measure the groups interactions. Productiveness is task related output, while cohesiveness is a social dimension output. Both the task dimension and the social dimension must be recognized in order for the group to be successful. Groups that have higher cohesiveness are often more productive.


Group development occurs in Periodic stages, the first stage is Forming. Groups form for several different reasons. Interpersonal Attraction is a main reason why groups from. Humans are social beings and have a strong need to affiliate with others who they percieve as similar to themselves. Attraction to group activities and attraction to group goals are two other important reasons for groups to form. Often groups are formed to help individuals make sense of the world, or to fill an unrelated need such as career advancement or out of direction from an authority figure.


The second periodic stage of group development is known as Storming. Storming is social tension that all groups experience in two stages. The first stage, primary tension, occurs when people feel anxious or uneasy when they first meet. Secondary Tension, the second stage, occurs within the group later in the group development process. Secondary tension occurs because of decision making, or when group members struggle to agree on roles within the group. Secondary tension often is manifested in an abrupt departure from normal group behavior.


Norming is the next stage of group development. Norms are rules that govern the group. The main function of norms is to achieve group goals. Norms come in two forms, explicit and implicit. Explicit norms are specifically outlined in group charters, constitutions and bi-laws. Implicit norms are not actually stated, but rather inferred or realized from experience. Implicit norms explain how students know how to act on the first day at school, or in line. The text gives three ways in which a group develops its norms; from outside systems, from an individual within the group, and from the actual group itself. Not knowing the group’s norms or worrying about norms may lead to primary tension felt in the storming stage.


The last stage is Preforming. Groups perform better than individuals under certain circumstances. These include tasks that require a wide range of information and skills to be used, when both the group and individual lack expertise on the task, or when the task is especially complicated. Individuals can outperform groups when the task is time critical or if the group becomes too large for the task.


During the Integrated Business Curricullum offered by the College of Business and Economics I had the chance to witness the group development process first hand. My team fromed out of direction from authority, and the group came together with common goal in mind, to do well in the class. My teammates and I were all previously acquainted, so the level of primary tension was pretty low. Unfortunatly there was a lot of secondary tension that took place, as a couple we struggled with the group’s power structure. This secondary tension became so bad that our performance began to be affected. We were forced to come up with explicit norms to regulate our work and behavior, but the implicit norms allowed us to be to relax and the group often ended up talking about bars and parties too much. Performance wise the group did not live up