Group: Definition, Functions, Types of Groups (2023)

Group: Definition, Functions, Types of Groups (1)A group is a collection of individuals who interact with each other such that one person’s actions have an impact on the others. In other words, a group is defined as two or more individuals, interacting and interdependent, who have come together to achieve particular objectives.

In organizations, most work is done within groups.

What is a Group?

Groups where people get along, feel the desire to contribute to the team, and are capable of coordinating their efforts may have high-performance levels. Group can be defined as a collection of individuals who have regular contact and frequent interaction, mutual influence, the common feeling of camaraderie, and who work together to achieve a common set of goals.

Some other simple ways like: can give the definition of a group

  • Several people or things that are together or in the same place.
  • Several people who are connected by some shared activity, interest, or quality.
  • Several individuals assembled or having some unifying relationship.
  • A set of people who meet or do something together because they share the same purpose or ideas.

The term group can be defined in several different ways, depending on the perspective that is taken.

A comprehensive definition would say that is a group exists in an organization, its members:

  • Are motivated to join.
  • Perceive the group as a unified unit of interacting with people.
  • Contribute in various amounts to the group processes (that is, some people contribute more time or energy to the group than do Others).
  • Reach agreements and have disagreements through various forms of interaction.

Functions of Groups

Group: Definition, Functions, Types of Groups (2)

The organizational functions of groups help to realize an organization’s goals.

Such functions include the following:

  • Working on a complex and independent task that is too complex for an individual to perform and that cannot be easily broken down into independent tasks.
  • Generating new ideas or creative solutions to solve problems that require inputs from several people.
  • Serving liaison or coordinating functions among several workgroups whose work is to some extent independent.
  • Facilitating the implementation of complex decisions. A group composed of representatives from various working groups can coordinate the activities of these interrelated groups.
  • Serving as a vehicle for training new employees, groups teach new members methods of operations and group norms.

The list is not comprehensive. The importance of groups in organizations cannot be overemphasized because most of the organizational activities are carried out by groups.

Since jobs in organizations are becoming more complex and interdependent, the use of groups in performing task functions will become increasingly important.

One of the most common findings from the research on groups in organizations is that most groups turn out to have both formal and informal functions, they serve the needs of both organizational and individual members.

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Psychological groups, therefore, may well be the key unit for facilitating the integration of organizational goals and personal needs.

For example, a formal workgroup in an industrial establishment often evolves into a psychological group that meets a variety of its members’ psychological needs.

If this process occurs, the group often becomes the source of much higher levels of loyalty, commitment, and energy in the service of organizational goals that would be possible if the members psychological needs had to be met elsewhere.

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Types of Groups

Group: Definition, Functions, Types of Groups (3)

Groups may be classified according to many dimensions, including function, personal involvement, and organization.

Types of Groups are;

  • Formal Group.
  • Informal Group.
  • Managed Group.
  • Process Group.
  • Semi-Formal Groups.
  • Goal Group.
  • Learning Group.
  • Problem-Solving Group
  • Friendship Group.
  • Interest Group.

Let’s look at the

Formal Groups

Formal groups are created to achieve specific organizational objectives. Usually, they are concerned with the coordination of work activities.

People are brought together based on different roles within the structure of the organization. The nature of the task to be undertaken is a predominant feature of the formal groups.

Goals are identified by management and short and rules relationships and norms of behavior established. Formal groups chain to be related to permanent although there may be changes in actual membership.

However temporary formal groups may also be created by management, such as project teams in a matrix organization.

Informal Groups

Within the formal structure of the organization, there will always be an informal structure.

The formal structure of the organization and system of role relationship, rule, and procedures, will be augmented by interpretation and development at the informal level.

Informal groups are based more on personal relationships and agreement of group’s members than on defined role relationships. They serve to Satisfy psychological and social needs not related necessarily to the tasks to be undertaken.

Groups may devise ways of attempting to satisfy members’ affiliations and other social motivations that are lacing in the work situation, especially in industrial organizations.

Managed Group

Groups may be formed under a named manager, even though they may not necessarily work together with a great deal. They have the main thing in common, at least the manager and perhaps a similar type of work.

Process Group

The process group acts together to enact a process, going through a relatively fixed set of instructions. The classic environment is a manufacturing production line, where every movement is prescribed.

There may either be little interaction within process groups or else it’ is largely prescribed, for example where one person hands something over to another.

Semi-Formal Groups

Many groups act with less formality, in particular where power is distributed across the group, forcing a more collaborative approach that includes- negotiation rather than command and control.

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Families, communities and tribal groups often act as semi-formal ways as they both have nominal leaders yet members can have a high degree of autonomy.

Goal Group

The goal group acts together to achieve a shared objective or desired outcome. Unlike the process groups, there is no clear instruction on how they should achieve this, although they may use some processes and methods along the way.

As there is no detailed instruction, the members of the goal group need to bring more intelligence, knowledge, and experience to the task.

Learning Group

The learning group comes together to increase their net knowledge. They may act collaboratively with discussion and exploration, or they may be taught with a teacher and a syllabus.

Problem-Solving Group

Problem-solving groups come together to address issues that have arisen. They have a common purpose in understanding and resolving their issue, although their different perspectives can lead to particular disagreements.

Problem-solving may range along a spectrum from highly logical and deterministic, to uncertain and dynamic situations there creativity and instinct may be better ways of resolving the situation.

Friendship Group

Groups often develop because individual members have one or more common characteristics. We call these formations of friendship groups.

Social alliances, which frequently extend outside the work situation, can be based on similar age or ethnic heritage, support for Kolkata Knight Riders cricket, or the holding of similar political views, to name just a few such characteristics.

Interest Group

People who may or may not be aligned into a common command or task groups may affiliate to attain a specific objective with which each is concerned. This is an interest group.

Employees who band together to alter their vacation schedules, support a peer who has been fired, or seek improved working conditions represent the formation of a united body to further their common interest.

Differences between Formal Group and Informal Group

Basis for ComparisonFormal GroupInformal Group
MeaningGroups created by the organization, to accomplish a specific task, are known as Formal Groups.Groups created by the employees themselves, for their own sake are known as Informal Groups.
SizeLarge.Comparatively small.
LifeIt depends on the type of group.It depends on the members.
StructureWell Defined.Not well defined.
The importance is given toPosition.Person.
CommunicationMoves in a defined direction.Stretches in all the directions.

Skills for a Healthy Group Climate

To work together successfully, group members must demonstrate a sense of cohesion. Cohesion emerges as group members exhibit the following skills:

  • Openness.
  • Trust and Self-Disclosure.
  • Support.
  • Respect.
  • Individual Responsibility and Accountability.
  • Constructive Feedback.


Group members are willing to get to know one another, particularly those with different interests and backgrounds. They are open to new ideas, diverse viewpoints, and the variety of individuals present within the group.

They listen to others and elicit their ideas. They know how to balance the need for cohesion within a group with the need for individual expression.

Trust and Self-Disclosure

Group members trust one another enough to share their ideas and feelings.

A sense of mutual trust develops only to the extent that everyone is willing to self-disclose and be honest yet respectful. Trust also grows as a group. The members demonstrate personal accountability for the tasks they have been assigned.


Group members demonstrate support for one another as they accomplish their goals. They exemplify a sense of team loyalty and cheer on the group as a whole and help members experiencing difficulties.

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They view one another not as competitors (common within a typically individualistic educational system) but as collaborators.


Group members communicate their opinions in a way that respects others, focusing on “What can we learn?” rather than “Who is to blame?”

Individual Responsibility and Accountability

All group members agree on what needs to be done and by whom. Each member determines what he or she needs to do and takes responsibility to complete the task(s).

They can be held accountable for their tasks, and they hold others accountable for theirs.

Constructive Feedback

Group members can give and receive feedback about group ideas. Giving constructive feedback requires focusing on ideas and behaviors instead of individuals, being as positive as possible, and offering suggestions for improvement.

Receiving feedback requires listening well, asking for clarification if the comment is unclear, and being open to change and other ideas.

6 Reasons Why Individuals Join Groups

Group: Definition, Functions, Types of Groups (4)

A small group is a combination of more than two people who are interdependent on one another.

So communication among the group members consisting of a small number of members is known as small group communication.

Every organization employs small groups to collect, process, and produce information, solve problems and make decisions.

Group communication helps to get a synergistic benefit. Synergy means combined efforts of a group result in greater output than the sum of the individual output.

That is, groups can do more for individuals than individuals can do for themselves. People join groups for many reasons.

Some group members are motivated by working in a group and others are motivated by creating interpersonal relationships with other group members.

Great OB scholar K. Aswathappa said there is no single reason why individuals join groups.

Since most people belong to many groups, it is obvious that different groups offer different attractions and benefits to their members.

The most popular reasons for joining a group are related to our needs for security, esteem, affiliation, power, identity, huddling, and task functions.

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  1. Security.
  2. Esteem.
  3. Affiliation.
  4. Power.
  5. Identity.
  6. Huddling.


Probably the strongest reason for group formation is the people’s need for security. By joining a group, we can reduce our insecurity – we feel stronger, have fewer self-doubts, and are more resistant to threats.


Probably the strongest reason for group formation is the people’s need for security. By joining a group, we can reduce our insecurity – we feel stronger, have fewer self-doubts, and are more resistant to threats.


An individual can increase his self-esteem through group membership.

First, one may gain esteem by becoming a member of a high-status group. Associating with high-status people is reinforcing, and outsiders usually accord one who belongs to such a group a high status.

Second, the close relationship an individual can develop as a group member provides opportunities for recognition and praise that are not available outside of the group.


Another reason why people join groups is that they enjoy the regular company of other people, particularly those who possess common interests. Individuals may seek out others at work who shares common hobbies or common backgrounds.


Membership of groups offers power to members in at least two ways.

First, there are sayings such as “united we stand, divided we fall” and there is strength in numbers.” These are driving forces behind unionizations, and workers enjoy much greater power collectively than they do as individuals.

Second, the leadership of an informal group enables an individual to exercise power over group members, even if he does not enjoy the formal position of authority in the organization.


Group membership contributes to the individual’s eternal quest for an answer to the question “who am I.” It is common knowledge that’ tries to understand ourselves through the behavior of others towards us.

If others praise us, we feel we are great, if others enjoy our jokes, we see ourselves as funny persons, and so on. Groups provide several “others” who will laugh, praise, or admire us.


One more reason why individuals want to join groups is for huddling.

Because of the way bureaucracies work, individuals, particularly executives, make use of informal get-togethers called huddles. There are intimate task-oriented encounters of executives trying to get something done, and huddling enables executives to deal with emerging matters and minimize the amount of surprise.

It also serves to reduce red tape by cutting through hierarchical channels of communication and minimizing misunderstandings.

Because organization charts represent real duties, huddling can compensate for lack of leadership by taking collective and unofficial responsibility for getting things done.


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