With the advancement of societies, several social groups emerged over the course of time. Since every such group has its own ideologies and attitudes, each one functions differently. Individual members with differing thought processes exert even more influence in their functioning. This is why we need to study the classification of groups to understand how they operate.
Classification of Groups
We can classify groups into the following general categories:
1) Primary v. Secondary Groups
Primary groups are those which are generally small in size and emerge due to feelings of intimacy or friendship. For example, family groups, groups of friends in offices, etc.
On the other hand, secondary groups are much larger and are based on the mutual beliefs of members. The members of these groups might not interact with each other personally. For example, associations of people belonging to a profession, like doctors or lawyers, are secondary groups.
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2) Membership v. Reference Groups
Membership groups are those to which people belong, while reference groups are those to which they wish to belong.
3) Command v. Task Groups
Command groups involve a hierarchical structure wherein a member with a superior rank oversees other members. For example, the manager of a shop and his subordinate sales staff will become a command group.
In a task group, members perform the same functions but they do not share a hierarchical command structure. For example, all the sales staff members together subordinate to the manager of the shop.
4) Interest v. Friendship Groups
An interest group always involves members sharing common and mutual goals. For example, a firm of partners will be an interest group. A friendship group, however, need not have common interests but members share mutual attributes. For example, they may belong to the same place or support the same sports team.
5) Psychological v. Social Groups
In a psychological group, two or more members interdependent on each other together influence other members as well. For example, parents in a family might dictate how all family members will behave.
A social group comprises of interrelated psychological groups that have the same objectives. For example, members of regional offices of a company along with those at its headquarters.
6) Formal v. Informal Groups
Formal groups are those which emerge out of a formal authority that has specific objectives. For example, a trade union will be a formal group. The members of formal groups behave according to their mutual goals.
Informal groups emerge not from formal authorities but rather from personal or social interactions. The members of these groups might or might not have specific common goals. These groups generally emerge from feelings of friendship or camaraderie.
Various management theorists and thinkers have further studied informal groups into more sub-categories. The following are some such classifications.
Informal Groups according to Mayo and Lombard
a) Natural Groups: These groups generally do not require internal structures.
b) Family groups: These groups always involve a few members who influence the functioning of other members.
c) Organized groups: These groups involve the leadership of a few members. Furthermore, these few members use their intelligence and skills to maintain group integrity and unity.
Informal Groups according to Sayles
a) Apathetic groups: These groups basically have informal attitudes towards the larger informal groups. They often have a lack of unity and members indulge in conflicts frequently.
b) Erratic groups: The most important feature of these groups is that they keep fluctuating between cooperation and antagonism. This is because of distrust, lack of a clear unity, breakdown of communication, etc.
c) Strategic groups: These groups generally have consistent pressures, group unity and unanimity of purpose.
d) Conservative groups: Unlike strategic groups, these groups have moderate unity and pressures but they still achieve results.
Informal Groups according to Dalton
Dalton generally studied the classification of groups in terms of hierarchies usually in workplaces. He classified informal groups as follows:
a) Horizontal groups: Members generally perform more or less the same work and have the same rank.
b) Vertical groups: Unlike horizontal groups, members of vertical groups work at different levels in a particular department.
c) Mixed groups: Members of different ranks and departments work together in these groups.
Questions on Classification of Group Dynamics
Fill the following blanks with missing words:
(a) Interest groups have common interests or goals, while __________ groups involve just mutual affection.
(b) __________ studied classification of groups in terms of workplace hierarchies.
(c) Unlike __________ groups, members of task groups do not have organized hierarchies.
Answers: (a) friendship (b) Dalton (c) command