Group cohesion means the degree to which the group members are attracted to each other and remain within the group. It is usually reflected by its resiliency to disruption by outside forces. Group cohesion develops out of the activities, interactions and sentiments of the members. Cohesiveness binds all the group members to work as one man to attain the set goals.


Group cohesiveness is another important factor besides group norms which affects group behaviour. Group cohesiveness means the degree of attachment of the members to 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. A cohesive group usually has the following features:

1. The members share the group goals and normal and have common interests and backgrounds.

2. The number of members is small.

3. The members interact among themselves quite frequently and interpersonal communication is very effective.

4. Group loyalty among the members is high because the group enjoys high status.

5. The members stand united against any perceived external threats to the group.

6. The members keep themselves glued to the group as they feel that their needs would be satisfied by the group.

7. The group has a history of past success.

Factors Affecting Group Cohesiveness

There are various factors which determine the degree of group cohesiveness. Such factors are as follows

1. Degree of Dependency on the Group : The more highly dependent a person is on a group for some result or effect, the greater will be the group's attractiveness and consequently greater is its cohesiveness. It has been suggested that the greater the number of individual needs a group can or does satisfy the greater is its attractiveness and its cohesiveness.

2. Size : Other things being equal, size has an inverse relationship with group cohesiveness. This is so because group cohesiveness increases through interaction among group members. Thus, larger a group becomes, the less opportunity exists for interaction among the members.

3. Homogeneity and Stable Membership : Groups whose members have different interests and

backgrounds are often less effective in promoting their interests. Similarly, stable relationships among members enhance group cohesiveness. This is so because the relationship have to persist over a period of time to permit people to know one another, to develop common understanding of shared goals and values.

4. Location of the Group : Location of the group affects group cohesion in two ways. First, if the group members are located close to each other, they interact themselves frequently and freely. Therefore, group cohesion would be high. Second, if the group is isolated from other groups, cohesion is high. Where the line of dividing between one group and other groups does not exist, cohesion is not easy to achieve because a chain of interactions develops among members of various groups.

5. Group Status : A group with high status with success stories is more attractive to its members. Therefore, they show solidarity among themselves and group cohesion tends to be high. As against this, a group which is denounced by all tends to have less cohesion.

6. Group Leadership : The qualities of the group leader determine the extent to which the group members bind themselves with the group. If the leader is dynamic and energetic, he motivates the group members to work with zeal for the attainment of common goals. He tries to build and maintain high group loyalty among members.

7. Outside Pressures : Members of a group tend to go together to face challenges from outside pressures. When there are pressures from outside, group members tend to minimize their personal differences in order to fight the common enemy. However, it may also happen that the group is unable to bear the excessive pressures and group cohesiveness can not be achieved to withstand such pressures.

8. Competition : Type of competition affects the group cohesiveness. Two classes of competition have different types of effects on group cohesion. There are intragroup competition, that is among the group members and intergroup competition, that is competition as a whole. Competition between members of the group is usually destructive to group cohesiveness. As against this, intergroup competition brings cohesiveness in the group. Success resulting from intergroup competition increases cohesion further. However, losers in intergroup competition usually experience tensions and disruptive forces which upset relationship. If the group continues after defeat, a stabilization will return near the former level.

9. Inter Dependency : When each member of a group has independent activities, the cohesiveness among the members of such group will be less as compared to the group whose members are doing the operations which are independent upon each other. Thus, mutual dependency leads to greater cohesiveness.

10. Management Behaviour : The behaviour of management has a direct influence on the degree of cohesiveness that exists within a group. The manager can make close relations difficult by creating unhealthy competition among employees. On the other hand, he can build solidarity by rewarding co-operative behaviour. The cohesive group can help attain the group goals more effectively, if the group members are properly inspired by the manager.

11. Member Turnover : To make a group more cohesive, there is need for some degree of stable relationships among members. The higher the degree of member turnover, the less cohesive a group becomes, because the more frequently members leave a particular group the more time a new member takes to get attached to the group and the more time the old member takes to get attached to the new group.

12. Threat : Threat is a very powerful force which unifies the group, particularly when it comes from (i) outside the group (ii) co-operation can help overcome the threat and (iii) there is little or no chance for escape. For example, the management threats frequently bring together an otherwise disarrayed union. Thus, the threatening party will have a less chance of success when faced with a unified force.

13. Previous Success and Shared Goals : When a group achieves a meaningful goal, the cohesiveness of the group increases because the success is shared by all the members and each one feels responsible for the achievement. If the group agrees on the purpose and direction of its activities, this serves to bind the group together. For this reason, successful companies find it easy to hire new talented employees.

Factors Affecting Group Cohesiveness

Fig. 3.1: Factors Affecting Group Cohesiveness

14. Co-operation : Sometimes the general atmosphere of group enhances cohesiveness. The overall

atmosphere depends among things on leadership. All these factors have been shown in Fig. 3.1.

If the above factors are positive, they may lead to higher group cohesiveness. Their negative features reduce group cohesiveness. In particular, French has identified three disruptive forces on group cohesion.

1. Cohesiveness declines the members or subgroups within the group tend to use different methods to accomplish the same goals. The 'how' of accomplishment of the goals is the disruptive factor here.

2. Differences regarding the goal or goals of the group can have an adverse effect on cohesiveness. Differences of this nature, however, are not as disruptive as differences about methods to achieve a single recognised goal.

3. If the goals of the individual members of the group are in conflict, the cohesion of the group is lessened.

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