Last Updated 27 Jul 2020

Theories of Group Formation

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Theories of Group Formation Below is an explanation of the different models of group formation processes by Lewin, Tuckman, McGrath, and Gersick including the major features, steps, and characteristics. Tuckman (1965), stated these roles/processes are needed for group formation: Forming: Group members learn about each other, and the task at hand. Indicators of this stage might include: unclear objectives, confusion, and low morale. Storming: As group members continue to work, they will engage each other in arguments about the structure of the group which often are significantly emotional and illustrate a struggle for status in the group.

Lack of cohesion marks this phase. Norming: Group members establish implicit or explicit rules about how they will achieve their goal. They address the types of communication that will or will not help with the task. Indicators include: Questioning performance, Reviewing/clarify objective, Changing/confirming roles, Opening risky issues, Assertiveness, Listening, Testing new ground, Identifying strengths and weaknesses. Performing: Groups reach a conclusion and implement the conclusion. Indicators include: Creativity, Initiative, Flexibility, and Open relationships.

McGrath (1991), stated these roles/processes are needed for group formation: Mode I: Inception and acceptance of a project (goal choice) Mode II: Technical problem solving – solution of technical issues (means choice) Mode III: Conflict resolution – resolution of political issues conflict (policy choice) Mode IV: Execution – the performance requirements of the project (goal attainment) Unfreezing – this phase involves overcoming inertia and dismantling the existing “mind set”. Defense mechanisms have to be bypassed. Change – typically a period of confusion and transition.

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One is aware that the old ways are being challenged but does not have a clear picture to replace them yet. Freezing – the new mindset is crystallizing and one’s comfort level is returning to previous levels. Phase 1 – behavioral patterns and assumptions through which a group approaches its project emerges in its first meeting, and the group stays with the framework through the first half of its life. Teams may show little visible progress during this time because members are unable to perceive a use for the information they are generating until they revise the initial framework.

Midpoint – at calendar midpoints, groups experience transitions-paradigmatic shifts in their approaches of their work enabling them to capitalize on the gradual learning they have done and make significant advances. This is an opportunity for the group to alter the course of its life midstream. Phase 2 - this is a second period of inertial movement, and takes its direction from plans crystallized during the transition. At completion, when a team makes a final effort to satisfy outside expectations, it experiences the positive and negative consequences of past choices.

I see many roles that leaders need to provide in the group development process. A leader needs understanding of critical theories about how people learn, an understanding of patterns of discrimination and inequalities, and the benefits and liabilities associated with individual groups. Along with the ability to articulate his/her own philosophy of education, and use it to empower others’ active participation in their own transformation. According to Katzenbach and Smith (2005), effective working groups need little time to shape their purpose, since the leader usually establishes it.

Despite the fact that many leaders refer to group reporting to them as a team, few groups really are. Leaders, however, should make sure the team succeeds in identifying specific purposes and goals. If the leader of a group wants to improve performance overall, he/she needs to find a way of the group taking shared ownership for the results. It is likely that a shift from individual responsibility to shared responsibility can only be achieved if the pay and reward system has a significant element that is dependent on the overall outcome.

The knowledge, skills and attitudes of the leader may also need to shift significantly to be effective in this new environment. For example, a leader may need to share all of the individuals' results with the group. The group has the right to know how others are performing if their pay depends on it. This could be a challenging experience for a leader who has avoided the potential emotional stress that can be caused by this level of openness.

Kozlowski and Bell (2003), stated that team training and leadership interventions have the potential to enhance team development, it is a process that generally unfolds naturally without intentional intervention. Thus the potential for improving team development and team effectiveness in many organizations is high. “However, team training and team leadership are key leverage points for enhancing the developmental process by intervening before or as teams are formed (team training) and as they proceed through the developmental rocess in the work setting (team leadership and coaching). ” Kozlowski & Bell (2003). The theory that appeals to me the most is Tuckman’s theory of group formation. I believe I feel this way because it is most familiar to me, and have gone through the formal stages of forming, norming, storming, and performing. I was also a participant in a class called “How best to form your team”. This class went over these ideals that Tuckman mentions. Refer ences Gersick, Connie J. G. (1988). Time and Transition in Work Teams: Toward a New Model of Group Development.

Academy of Management Journal. Vol. 31, No. 1, 9-41. Retrieved from Business Source Premier database Katzenbach, Jon R. & Smith, Douglas K. (2005). The Discipline of Teams. The Harvard Business Review. July-August, 2005. pp. 162-171. Kozlowski, S. (2006). Group development. Encyclopedia of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Retrieved from Sage e-References, Walden Library Kozlowski, S. W. J. , & Bell, B. S. (2003). Work groups and teams in organizations. In W. C. Borman, ed. , D. R. Ilgen, ed. , & R. J. Klimoski, ed. (Eds. ), ed. Handbook of psychology: Industrial and organizational psychology (Vol. 12, pp. 333-375). London: Wiley. Lewin, K. (1999). Experiments in social space. Reflections, 1(1), 7-13. Retrieved from Business Source Premier database McGrath, J. E. (1991). Time, interaction, and performance (TIP): A theory of groups. Small Group Research, 22(2), 147-174. Retrieved from SAGE Management and Organization Studies Full Text Collection Tuckman, B. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63(6), 384-399. Retrieved from PsycARTICLES database

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