THEORIES OF GROUP FORMATION

Though a number of theories have been propounded by various experts to explain the dynamics of group formation, the most important ones are discussed hereunder :

Homan's Theory

Homan's theory of group formation is based on three elements, namely, activities, interaction and sentiments. According to Homan, these three elements are directly related to each other. The required activities are the assigned tasks to people to work. The required interaction takes place when any person's activity takes place or is influenced by the activity of any other person. As regards sentiments, these are the feelings or attitudes of a person towards others, i.e., his likes or dislikes, approval or disapproval.

The key element is interaction because of which they develop common sentiments for one another as shown in Fig. 2.2.

This theory explains the basic ideal behind forming groups. Scott observes that interaction is not only helps in attaining goals but also to solve problems, facilitate co-ordination, reduce tension and achieve a balance. Participants interacting in this manner tend to form powerful groups.

The following imaginary example will help understand Homan's theory in a better manner : Suppose, the students of Business Administration are in queue to deposit their examination fees in the State Bank of India. All of them have a common purpose, that is, to deposit fees when there turn comes. They see, a student from Mass Communication Department comes and breaks the queue to go ahead. The student whose turn was dislocated by the queue breaker tells the queue breaker not to do so and pushes him out. This influences all other students standing in the queue to follow the student whose turn was dislocated, in telling him not to break the queue. In this example, they can see activities and interaction taking place among the students. When the students actually disapprove the queue breaker in doing so, it reflects their sentiments towards each other. In sum and substances, all these activities took place because of the sentiments or feelings of the students/people.

Interaction Theory of Group Formation.

Fig. 2.2: Interaction Theory of Group Formation.

Exchange Theory of Reward and Cost Outcome

Thaibaunt and Kelly put forward their theory of group formation, stating the outcome of interaction as the basis of group formation. According to them, the outcome of interaction should result in attraction and affiliation, also called rewards, among the persons of a group. In case, the interaction incurs anxiety or frustration or embarrassment or fatigue to the members of a group, it is, then, called cost for the members rather than a reward. In exchange theory, affiliation, interaction and common attitude play an important role.

Balance Theory

This theory was propounded by Newcomb. According to this theory, groups are formed on the basis of attractions of people towards each other having similar attitudes and values. Rao and Barman form relationship because of their common attitudes and values. They try to maintain a symmetrical relationship between the attraction and common attitudes and values. As and when, their relationship becomes unbalanced, both try to restore balance. However, if balance cannot be restored, then their relationship gets dissolved. Thus, one will appreciate that both attraction and interaction play a significant role in balance theory.

How this theory helps in group formation is presented in Fig. 2.3 below :

This theory also does not explain the full view of group formation as mere similarity of attitudes does not necessarily lead to group formation. Further, there are other reasons for group formation besides similarity of attitudes.

 
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