Informal groups

Informal groups
See also


E. Schein defined group as: "(...) any number of people who 1) interact with one another 2) are psychologically aware of one another and 3) perceive themselves to be a group"[1]. According to the Uwe Bußmann, we can distinguish two types of groups - formal and informal[2], A. Parikh separates them in this way by position in company[3]. Informal groups have almost the same nature as the formal groups.

An informal group in organization is interconnected social structure affecting how the work is done. People often gather in informal groups when they have common interests, have similar ethnicity or racial origin or they are just friends. Any group that does not belong to a formal organization is called a informal group[2]. However, they do not have to perform tasks and achieve goals as the main reason for existence[4].

Informal groups are unassigned affiliations of people whose relationships are not determined by formal authority. The purpose of such groups is to realize important values for its members, even if they are contrary to the objectives of formal structures. Relations between members of informal groups are spontaneous and are initiated by the will of the employees themselves. Often, informal groups have more influence in many aspects on the company's activity than formal groups[5]. One of the reasons for the rise of informal groups according to the A. Parikh is "when the group members are located within close distance with each other, and interact more"[3].

Informal groups exist in every organization, regardless of formal structures they fulfill many functions, both positive and negative[6]. The informal group exerts a positive influence on organizations when overlaps with the formal structure, using the value of informally transmitted information. It has a negative effect when informal groups are created between departments or levels in the company's hierarchy. The most important issue is finding ways to use informal groups in formal company structures to increase the company's efficiency[7].

Functions[edit]

The functions and goals of informal groups depend on the place and reasons for which they arise. Some of them may be as follows[8][9][10]:

  • Satisfying the specific needs of group members.
  • Ensuring social affiliation and support.
  • Protection against threatening and bullying.
  • Transfer of knowledge and information.
  • Helping members to find solutions to mutual and personal problems.
  • Efforts to increase remuneration.
  • Confirmation of your beliefs and values.

Types of Informal Groups[edit]

The division into types depends on the reasons for which they are created. The most common types are[11]:

Characteristics of Informal Groups[edit]

As with the function, the characteristics depend on the type and cause of the informal group. Some of the characteristics distinguish between informal and formal groups, such us[12]:

  • Using behavioral norms of its members as group principles.
  • Members' loyalty concerns each other first, then the company.
  • The goals are determined by what the group members feel is right, not what the company objectives.
  • The behavior of members towards each other results from their relationship, not their position in the company.
  • The group leader is often chosen by his charismatic basis.
  • Social needs and security needs are ahead of other needs.
  • Informal groups are not as durable as formal groups

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Schein E. (1988), Organizational Psychology (Third Edition), Prentice Hall
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bußmann U., (2014), Group Dynamics: The Nature of Groups as well as Dynamics of Informal Groups and Dysfunctions, Anchor Academic Publishing, Hamburg, p. 30
  3. 3.0 3.1 Parikh M., Gupta R., (2010), Organisational Behaviour, Tata McGraw-Hill Education, New Delhi, p. 260
  4. Agarwal R. D., (1982), Organization and Management, Tata McGraw-Hill Education, New Delhi, p. 289
  5. Harris O. J., Hartman S. J., (2001), Organizational Behavior, Psychology Press, New York, p. 100
  6. Martin J., (2005), Organizational Behaviour and Management, Cengage Learning EMEA, London, p. 219
  7. Constantin D. I., (2014), Systemic Approaches to Strategic Management: Examples from the Automotive Industry, IGI Global, Hershey, p. 93
  8. Harris O. J., Hartman S. J., (2001), Organizational Behavior, Psychology Press, New York, p. 102-103
  9. Bußmann U., (2014), Group Dynamics: The Nature of Groups as well as Dynamics of Informal Groups and Dysfunctions, Anchor Academic Publishing, Hamburg, p. 31
  10. Agarwal R. D., (1982), Organization and Management, Tata McGraw-Hill Education, New Delhi, p. 294-295
  11. Goyal N, (2010), Industrial Psychology, Krishna Prakashan Media, Meerut, p. 86
  12. Cole G. A., (2000), Organisational Behaviour: Theory and Practice, Cengage Learning EMEA, London, p.159

References[edit]

Author: Fryderyk Olchawa