Types of Groups

PSYCH-105 Industrial Psychology

Chapter 8: Group Dynamics

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4


Types of Group


  1. A small group is compact set of few individuals.
  2. Members of such a group have almost fact-to face interactions, communications, interpersonal relations, and interdependence. 
  3. Small groups remain more cohesive and compact in nature because there members are well knit and closely related to each other.
  4. The degree of interactions and interdependence of the members is higher as compared to large groups.


  1. A large group is usually a collection of few small groups.
  2. Large groups consist of greater number of members as well as many more smaller groups. 
  3. Structure of relationship, types of interaction and nature of interpersonal relations will be different from that of small groups.
  4. Business organizations, society, nation etc. are good examples of large groups.
  5. Example of large group is a country.


  1. A primary group is a small, long term group characterized by relatively close association among members. The closeness of such association directly influences the behavior of individuals in the group. 
  2. The existence of shared sense of identity and values, interest and goals, group loyalty is also very strong. 
  3. These groups are characterized by face-to-face interaction and high levels of cohesiveness, solidarity, and member identification.
  4. A family, a friendship group and a work group (i.e. a task group or a functional group – determined by prescribed job requirements) are examples of primary groups.


  1. Secondary groups are relatively larger in size, and mostly formed on the basis of formal, rational and contractual relationships among members. 
  2. They tend to be shorter in duration and less emotionally involving.
  3. In these groups, role, position, and relationship are predetermined and members work within the framework of prescribed boundaries. 
  4. The relationships in such groups tend to be impersonal and group loyalty may be week. The cohesiveness among the members of the large secondary group may be less as compared to primary group.


  1. Temporary group are formed to handle some temporary or ad-hoc activity. 
  2. Such groups are dissolved after the completion of that temporary work.
  3. E.g. admission committee is formed to conduct the admission work.


  1. Permanent group is formed when the activity is repetitive and recurring in nature. 
  2. E.g. board of directors of an organization.


  1. A formal group is a work unit that is deliberately created by the management as a part of the organizations structure, to perform tasks that enhance the accomplishment of organizational objective. 
  2. They are structured to pursue a specific task. 
  3. It is an ‘official group’ whose members are selected by management according to their talent in order to assume certain defined roles and to undertake specific task. 
  4. The functioning of such a group is governed by organizational rule, procedure and policies.

Types of formal groups

1. Command Group

A command group is a formal group which is outlined on the chain of command on an organization chart. It is a relatively permanent work group which handles the routine and regular organizational activities on an ongoing basis. It consists of a manager and a set of subordinates who directly report to him. It continues to exist, a decision is made to change or reconstitute the organization structure for some typical reasons.

2. Task Group

A task group consists of members who interact with one another to accomplish most of the organization’s non routine tasks. It is created for a specific purpose (for example to solve a specific problem or to perform a defined task) and is typically disbanded once that purpose has been accomplished. It is a relatively temporary work group.

Reasons for Formation of Formal Groups

  1. To accomplish task that cannot be done by the individual employee.
  2. To bring a number of skills and talents to bear on complex, difficult tasks. 
  3. To provide an efficient means for control of employee behavior.
  4. To satisfy important personal need as social acceptance and affiliation.
  5. To increase organizational stability by transmitting organizational values and believes to employees.


  1. They emerge naturally in response to organizational or member interests. 
  2. In an informal group members cut across formal relationship of superior and subordinates and develop personal and social relationships on the basis of common interest, needs and values.
  3. The informal groups emerge spontaneously out of personal, social and natural instincts among the members. 
  4. They co-exist along with the formal groups. 
  5. Generally, informal groups are not stable as their existence depends upon the needs, value and goals of the members forming them.

Types of Informal Groups

1. Friendships

They are more permanent in nature. They are formed because of the cordial relationships that the members share with one another. The relationship in these groups can be based on similarity in age, ethic heritage or views. The members of the group enjoy each other’s company and like to spend time together.

2. Interest

They are relatively temporary and organized around a common activity or interest. E.g. a group of employee coming together to organize a picnic for the department compose an interest group.

Benefits of Informal Group

1. Blend with formal system

Formal plans, policies, procedures and standards cannot solve every problem in a dynamic organization, therefore, informal systems must blend with formal ones to get work done.

2. Lighten management workload

Managers are less inclined to check up on workers when they know the informal organization is cooperating with them. This encourages delegation, decentralization and greater worker support of the manager, which suggests a probable improvement in performance and overall productivity.

3. Fill gaps in management abilities

If a manager is weak in financial planning and analysis, a subordinate may informally assist in preparing reports through either suggestions or direct involvement.

4. Encourage improved management practice

They encourage managers to prepare, plan, organize and control in a more professional fashion. Managers who comprehend the power of the informal organization recognize that it is a “check and balance” on their use of authority.

5. Work problem solutions

Members of informal group share their knowledge and experience and thus help other members in solving any work related problem.

6. Speedy communication

It is a very fast way of communication as it is free from barriers of status and position. Thus, management can use it when fast communication is required. 

7. Social function

Employees experience frustration, tension and emotional problems with management and other employees. The informal group provides a means for relieving these emotional and psychological pressures by allowing a person to discuss them among friends openly and candidly. 

8. Discipline

Informal groups have set of norms and code of behaviour. Thus, they check the behaviour. Thus, they check the behaviour of its members and helps in maintaining discipline and order.

Dysfunctional and Negative Aspect of Informal Groups

1. Restriction of Output

Informal group may perceives their members to restrict their output and promote unauthorized behaviour the group activities may run counter to the organizational goals.

2. Conformity

Informal organization exerts strong pressure for conformity. Conformity can make group members reluctant to act independently, creatively or assertively, for fear of losing group approval and membership.

3. Power Politics by Informal Leaders

The informal leaders indulge in power politics. To seek dominance and to prevail upon the management, they tend to undermine organizational structure, values, goals and its environment.

4. Role Conflicts

Every member of informal group is also a member of formal organization. Under different situations distinct role played by members may create role conflicts. Too much observance and compliance with the rules and regulations of formal structure may create problems for informal groups.

5. Generation of Rumours

Informal communication often carries inaccurate, incomplete and distorted information. Rumours are more common when the employees are not kept inform on matter that directly affect them. Rumours make the job of management difficult and undetermined morale.

6. Resistance to Change

Informal groups generally pressurize the management for lowering down pace of change or to postponed them for future. Such tendency on the part of group members, may impede introduction and implementation of new ideas in the organization and may hamper growth and diversification of the organization.

7. Social Cost

Informal group act as a safety valve for the frustrations and other emotional problems of the group members. Allowing informal groups to engage in gossiping joke telling and general horse play or ideal conversation that satisfy some of the members social needs result in higher operating cost to the organization.

Distinction between Formal and Informal Groups


Formal Group

Informal Group


Groups are deliberately designed and structured and managed in a pre-planned manner

Emerge spontaneously and naturally within the formal structure


The main purpose is to seek achievement of predetermined common goals

Are aimed at satisfying social and personal needs of members


Leadership is backed by formal authority and power position is held by the leader

It is based on competence, personality, abilities and acceptance by the group members


Patter of relationship is strictly based on rationality, legality ad contract

Personal, social and emotional elements govern the pattern of relationship


They are invariably larger in size

They tend to be smaller in size


Members communicate through official chain of command.

Informal channels based on personal and social relations are used by members to communicate with each other.


Tend to be well structured and meticulously planned in every respect

Remain loosely structured and may even disappear at slightest pretext. Thus, informal groups are prone to uncertainty and instability

Author – Dr. Niyati Garg

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