Group Structure Meaning and Factors Affecting

Group Structure Meaning

The group must have an arrangement just like an organization has a structure. In simple terms, the structure is the pattern in which various parts or components of an object are interrelated or interconnected, in the case of a physical object, such a pattern is visible but in the case of a social object like a workgroup, this is not visible. Therefore, the structure of a workgroup has to be deduced from its various components and how they work.

A group’s structure is the internal framework that represents members’ relations to one another over time. Group structure helps in enabling the creation of the position and power of every person in the group. It affects and influences the behaviour of its members and encourages communication within the group.

Factors Affecting Group Structure

The factors which affect group structure are as follows:

Factors Affecting Group Structure

1) Group Composition: Groups are formed with several people, maybe with diversified skills and characteristics or with unified skills and characteristics. The modern and global organisation prefers diversified groups because diversified groups have members with varied skills, cultures and heterogeneous backgrounds which bring a variety of information to the company. Such information is useful to the company for making organisational strategies.

Group members belonging to the same demography can do the non-creative assignments more efficiently. Group demography is the extent to which group members share common demographic attributes such as age, race, educational level, gender, or length of service in an organisation. A suitable group structure should result in efficient group performance and good group decision making.

2) Group Size: Group size can have an important effect on group performance. While a larger group has an advantage over a smaller group in terms of idea generation and availability of resources, it may produce inhibition for interaction and communication among group members.

The group size should be determined by taking into consideration such factors as the nature of tasks to be performed, and the maturity of group members. and the ability of group leaders to manage communication, conflict, and group activities. Though experts view that a group size of 5-7 members is the most effective; in certain cases, a group size beyond these numbers may be effective if the above factors are highly positive.

3) Roles: A role is the pattern of behaviours expected of a person occupying a particular position in a social unit. Since a person may be part of several social units like family, friendship group, organisation, etc. He may occupy several positions at the same time.

Even in an organisation working as an employee, a person may hold a position; say chief accountant but the same person may be a superior, a subordinate, a peer, a member of the finance committee, and so on. In every such form of job, behaviours expected from him may be different. Thus, there are certain actual behaviours and they create role identity.

4) Leadership: A group leader plays a vital role in the functioning of the group. He may take the group to a new height by canalising the group members’ resources through effective use of his leadership or may bring the group to a low level through ineffective use of his leadership. The role of leadership in managing an organisation has become so important that it has attracted the attention of both management academicians and practitioners.

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5) Group Norms: “Technical Personnel does not speak much marketing people do not speak close to reality. Administrative personnel mostly confirm the precedents.” Bureaucrats strictly follow rules and regulations. These are some of the common behaviours of groups. Groups of people behave in identical patterns. This type of identical behaviour of groups is called the normative function of groups, Normative function enables the managers why and how the group members behave as per the group norms.

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Norms differ from group to group, but certain norms are common for groups. All the workgroups have the common norms of achieving high performance, improving productivity, doing the job at the right time, working smart, etc.

Other common norms include appearance norms including facial expressions,   dress, body language, social norms like treating the guests, and friends, respecting the elders and superiors, salary levels, job family etc. Therefore, employees modify their attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviour to the group norms.

6) Group Cohesiveness: Group cohesiveness means the extent of attachment of the members towards their group. If group cohesion is high, the interaction between members of the group is high and the degree of agreement in group opinion is high.

7) Group Status: During the initial days of industrialisation, the production group in the industries was treated on a priority basis compared to that of the marketing group, finance group and human resources group. This priority has been turned to other groups over the years.

This is because of the social requirements. In other words, when a variety of products were not available, society used to give top priority to the production group. This type of priority or position is given by society to groups and group members are referred to as status. 

Status is a socially defined rank or position given to groups or group members by others. Group members get high status or low status in the group based on their authority and performance. High-status members of the group have more freedom to deviate from the norms. This facility enables them to have discriminatory powers in decision making. Low-status members of the group should not have the freedom to deviate from the norms as it leads to status inequality.

Similarly, high-status groups should also have the freedom to deviate from norms as it enables high organisational performance. In such circumstances, group members assume that there is status equality. Otherwise, it results in status disequilibrium, which needs corrective behaviour.