Types of Group

GROUP Meaning, Definition, Nature, Types

Table of Contents:

Group Meaning

A group is formed when two or more people deliberately interact to reach a common consensus. Group members are mutually dependent and sensitive to the needs of other group members. There are groups in every organisation that influence the behaviour of its members. They not only influence the behaviour of their members but also affect other groups and the entire organization. The organisation and its members form such groups for their satisfaction. Therefore, these groups are essential for the proper functioning of organisations.

Managers require groups to coordinate individual behaviour to achieve the organisation’s goals. The formation of groups can make the job of a manager easier because once the group is formed, they are not required to explain the task to each individual. A manager can simply assign a task to the group and let them coordinate among themselves, thereby managing the individuals indirectly and efficiently. However, communication between group members should be productive to work effectively. Therefore, managers should remain attentive to the needs of individuals.

What is Group?

A group is a set of two or more people who interact continuously with each other to achieve certain goals or meet specific needs. Accordingly, only the gathering of individuals cannot be called a group. Sometimes, we need clarification that a group is also a team. A group can be called a team when the organization formally forms it. Smith and Katzenbach defined a team as a small group of individuals with complementary skills committed to a common purpose, a set of performance goals, and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.

The significant difference between a team and a group is that while a group can also be informally formed without any complementary skills and formal efforts, a team is always constituted by the organization. This occurs because it is practically impossible for a legal organization to meet the informal needs of its employees.

Group Definition

According to Stephen Robbins, “A group may be defined as two or more individuals, interacting and interdependent, who have come together to achieve particular objectives”.

Marvin Shaw states, “A group comprises, of two or more persons who interact with one another in such a manner that each person influences and is influenced by each other person”.

According to Edgar H. Schein, “A group may be defined as a social phenomenon in which two or more persons decide to interact with one another, share a common ideology and perceive themselves as a group”.

According to David H. Smith, “A group is a set of two or more individuals who are jointly characterised by a network of relevant communications, a shared sense of collective identity and one or more shared dispositions with associated normative strength”.

Nature of Group

The nature of the group includes the following points:

  1. Two or More Persons
  2. Collective Identity
  3. Interaction
  4. Shared Goal Interest 

1) Two or More Persons 

There should be at least two people to form a group because a single person can interact. However, there is no fixed maximum limit on the number of individuals in a group. Still, the group size may be determined by the rules and regulations of the organization in this context. It can also depend on the communication occurring between the members in the case of informal groups.

2) Collective Identity 

Group members should be aware of their membership within the group. Each member must recognize that they belong to a specific group and should participate actively. This mutual understanding distinguishes a group from an unorganized collection of individuals. In the case of a mere collection of individuals, they are typically unaware of each other, and even if they are, they do not engage in constructive interaction.

3) Interaction 

Unlike individuals, group members interact with one another. Interaction entails each member sharing their ideas with others, which can occur in person, in writing, over the telephone, through the Internet or via any other means of communication among group members. Not all group members have to interact all the time, but each member may interact with others from time to time.

4) Shared Goal Interest 

Group members should work together to achieve shared goals. However, only some members must endorse or agree with the group’s overarching objectives. A group typically encompasses a variety of purposes or interests, allowing each member to align with at least one of the group’s concerns. The consensus on the group’s goals binds the members together and maintains their cohesion.

Related Article:- Group Structure 

Reasons for Joining Group

Groups come into existence for several reasons, which are as follows: 

  1. Personal Attraction
  2. Group Activities
  3. Group Goals
  4. Security and Social Affiliation
  5. States and Self-Esteem
  6. Power 

1) Personal Attraction 

Even in informal group settings where people are expected to collaborate, the strength and unity of the group will be determined by the extent to which individuals are drawn to other members.

2) Group Activities

Groups allow members to interact and participate in group activities which are necessary for creating a sense of belongingness with others. 

3) Group Goals

Sharing a common set of goals is essential to create a sense of common purpose and the standards required for upholding a sense of identity and how the group distinguishes itself from others. 

4) Security and Social Affiliation 

Groups allow individuals to fulfil their belonging needs. Besides the need to feel loved, the group provides a feeling of protection by giving safety and security to its members

5) States and Self-Esteem 

Groups often develop a sense of value and status which in turn boosts their self-esteem. This feeling is strengthened if membership is perceived to be restricted or complex. 

6) Power 

Groups can exert more power to deal with non-group members compared to a collection of individuals. For example, membership in a trade union allows employees to both defend and support their interests collectively.

Related Article:- Group Decision Making

Types of Group

Groups can be categorized into the following types:

  1. Primary and Secondary Groups
  2. Membership Groups and Reference Groups 
  3. In-Groups and Out-Groups
  4. Interest and Friendship Groups
  5. Formal and Informal Groups
  6. Temporary and Permanent Groups
  7. Nominal and Non-Performing Groups
  8. Other Types of Group

Types of Group

1) Primary and Secondary Groups 

Primary groups are characterized by close, face-to-face association and collaboration among members. Generally, there exists a high degree of mutual dependency among members. Primary groups also serve as the fundamental source of socialization in society. This is the central place for developing and maintaining attitudes, values, and guidelines, such as the family and peer group.

Secondary groups are marked by their large size and the identification of individuals through inherent values and beliefs rather than direct interaction. This group consists of members who rarely have direct contact. They are typically large and formally structured, such as trade unions and membership organizations like the National Trust, etc

2) Membership Groups and Reference Groups 

Membership groups are those the individual truly belongs to, such as clubs, cooperatives, workers’ unions, etc.

Reference groups are those with which an individual identifies or to which they aspire to belong, such as friends, family, etc.

3) In-Groups and Out-Groups 

In-groups correspond to people who uphold the prevailing values in a society or hold a central position in social functioning, such as team members, family members, etc.

Out-groups are the masses considered secondary or insignificant in the culture, such as street performers for office workers and hawkers for surgeons.

4) Interest and Friendship Groups 

Interest groups consist of people who unite to achieve a specific objective with which they are associated.

Friendship groups consist of people who share common characteristics. People from a particular region, holding a specific point of view or speaking a similar language, are inclined to form friendship groups.

5) Formal and Informal Groups 

When organisations form groups for specific goals or to complete certain tasks, they are called formal groups. Departments, divisions, task forces, project groups, quality circles, and committees are some examples of traditional groups.

Informal groups, on the other hand, are formed in response to the need for social contact. These groups are internally formed within the organisation and spontaneously created by the members. They are developed to meet social requirements related to the job. Common examples of informal groups include tea or coffee groups and clubs.

6) Temporary and Permanent Groups 

Temporary groups are formed to fulfil specific goals and have a short lifespan. They cease to exist after attaining the desired objectives. Problem-solving and idea discussion are the primary roles of temporary groups. Meetings, committees, and small groups are examples of quick groups.

Permanent groups include ongoing group activities, performances, job assignments, etc. A team is a permanent group. Commercial associations and trade unions are examples of permanent groups.

7) Nominal and Non-Performing Groups

Nominal groups are tasked with solving problems. Group members exchange their ideas in a planned manner, discussing different options to select the best one. This group is nominal because employees are members only in name.

Non-performing groups exist only on paper. They are formed and developed without any actual performance. Although they have goals, they make no effort to attain them.

Other Types of Group

There are various types of groups, and a few of them are outlined below:

1. Clique: An informal, tight-knit group, typically found in high school or college, shares common interests. Cliques often have an established but flexible power structure, and their effects can be diverse.

2. Club: A club is a group that usually requires a membership application. These clubs may be dedicated to specific activities, such as sports clubs.

3. Community: A community consists of people with commonalities or sometimes a complex network of overlapping commonalities. They are often, though not always, in proximity to each other, with some continuity over time. Communities often have some organization and leaders.

4. Franchise: An organization that operates multiple instances of a business in various locations.

5. Gang: Typically, an urban group gathers in a specific area, and a gang is a less formal group of people who often spend time together, resembling some clubs.

6. Group: It is a fundamental term for several people associating with each other. This versatile term has various applications.

7. Mob: Usually a group of people who take the law into their own hands, mobs are temporary gatherings formed for a specific reason.

8. Posse: Originally an American term for citizens banding together to enforce the law, a posse can also refer to a street group.

9. Squad: Typically, a small group of about 3-8 people works as a team to achieve a specific goal.

10. Team: Like a squad, a team may contain many more members and functions similarly to a party.


A group is the association of two or more persons interacting to achieve a common goal. Jennifer and Gareth have defined a group as a set of two or more people who interact with each other to achieve specific goals or meet particular needs. Here, group interaction and a common goal are crucial elements of a group. The interaction reflects regular discussions and communication that may influence the behaviour of the group members. Moreover, the group members agree to achieve some common goal, termed a group goal. The group goal binds the members together to make efforts toward realizing the goal.

Given the critical role that groups play in organizations, let us focus on the meaning of a workgroup. In the true sense and for our purpose of studying group behaviour, the collection of individuals is called a group when:

  • They have a common goal.
  • The group members constantly interact with each other so that one person’s actions affect and are affected by the actions of another person.
  • Each member of the group identifies with other members of the group.
  • The members of the group are psychologically aware of each other.
  • The behaviour of each member in a group is interdependent on others.

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