Groups are composed of individuals. Hence, the group behaviour means behaviour of its members. In practice, each member of the group affects the behaviour of other members and, in turn, is also affected by them. The nature and patterns of reinforcement the members receive through their interaction with one another is also determined by the group itself. This is because the behaviour of individual members in a group becomes different than their behaviour outside the group situation. Therefore, while studying group behaviour, the factors that should be understood are group norms, group cohesion, group role, group conflict and group decision-making.
A norm is accepted by group members. It is a rule of conduct that has been established by group members. They are standardized generalizations concerning expected behaviour in matters that are of some importance of the group.
A rule dictates what must be done by another whereas norm refers to what should be done. Group norm is a standard of behaviour. In other words, group norm is a rule that tells the individual how to behave in a particular group. Thus, group norms identify the standards against which behaviour of group members will be evaluated and help the group members know what they should not do. Norms could be formal or could be informal.
In a group that drinks tea together every evening a norm arises. Every day a different member buys tea for the other members of the group.
The individuals are expected to comply with group norms.
The factors responsible for the emergence of group norms are of two kinds:
1. Members of the group seek to validate their beliefs.
2. If the group wants to maintain its identity there must be uniformity in attitudes and actions of the members. While showing problems the interactions of members of the group must be coordinated. Then only the group can survive.
According to Edgar Henry Schein (born in 1928) there are pivotal and relevant group norms. While the pivotal norms are confirmed by every member of the group, the relevant norms are desirable to be confirmed by the members. With increase in the size of the group, the acceptability of norms tends to lessen. Small deviation of norms is allowable. However, in case of extreme deviation, the deviator gets punished. For example, when the union is on strike, its members attending to work punished by being boycotted by the group. Thus, the group norms have following characteristics :
1. As personality reveals an individual, so group norms do for groups.
2. Norms serve as the basis for behaviour of group members.
3. They predict and control the behaviour of members in groups.
4. Norms are applied to all members of the group, though not uniformly.
A role means a set of expected behaviour pattern attached to a position or post in a social unit. In an organization, an employee's role is briefly indicated by a position title and elaborately specified by a job description. As regards group roles, these are designated and assigned in formal groups. These roles are prescribed by the organization with a view to make division among workers and assign them responsibility. But, group roles are usually not explicitly prescribed in informal groups. That is why in informal groups, one group member may perform several roles or several members may also perform the same role.
Types of Group Roles
In practice, the group members may be expected to perform a variety of different roles. A complete listing of these group roles would be very lengthy. However, the three most relevant group roles are discussed as follows :
(i) Work Roles : These roles relate to task-oriented activities involved in accomplishing the group tasks or group goals. Developing a strategy for accomplishing the task, assigning jobs, evaluating work progress and clarifying the group goals are the examples of work roles related to task-oriented activities.
(ii) Maintenance Role : These roles relate to social-emotional activities of group members that help maintain their involvement and commitment to group. Examples of these roles may be encouraging other fellow members to participate, praising and rewarding other members for their excellent contribution and similar other activities designed to maintain a friendly group atmosphere.
(iii) Blocking Roles : These are the activities that disrupt or destroy the group. These activities may
include such things as dominating the discussion, attacking other group members, disagreeing unreasonably with other group members and distracting group by unnecessary humor.