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Small Group
Why Should You Learn About Small
To meet needs
Groups are everywhere
To learn a highly valued skill
To become an effective group member
To participate in the democratic process
What is Small-Group Communication?
The interaction between three to nine
people who are working together to
achieve an interdependent goal
The Types and Functions of Small
Task-oriented groups – completing tasks
– Secondary groups
Relationship-oriented groups –
– Primary groups
Assigned groups – appointed hierarchy
Emergent groups – environmental
What is Leadership?
A process of using communication to
influence the behaviors and attitudes
of others to meet group goals
The Role of Leadership in Small Groups
Types of Small Group Leaders
– Designated leaders - appointed
– Emergent leaders - environmental
The Role of Leadership in Small Groups
Power and Group Leadership
– Distributive power - leader
– Integrative power interdependence
– Designated power - relational
Sources of Power
Punishment – withhold needs
Coercion – hostile tactics
Referent - loyalty
Expert power - knowledge
Theoretical Approaches to Group Leadership
 Style
– Democratic leaders
– Laissez-faire leaders
– Autocratic leaders
Contingency Approaches
– Different contingencies (situations) require
different leadership styles
Theoretical Approaches to Group Leadership
Communication Competencies Approach
– What do effective leaders do?
The Distributed Leadership Approach
– Each member is expected to help the group
move forward
Establishing Culture in Small Groups
Group Norms
– Informal rules for interaction
Role Structure
– Formal (positional) and informal (behavioral) roles
– Behavioral functions
 Task functions
 Maintenance functions
 Self-centered functions
Establishing Culture in Small Groups
Group Cohesiveness
– Trust, supportiveness, cohesiveness
– Groupthink
Diversity and Cognitive Paradigms
– Observable diversity (physical characteristics)
– Implicit diversity (worldview)
Problem Solving and Decision Making
 Characteristics
of Group Problem
– Multiple perspectives
– Takes longer
– Well suited for conjunctive tasks (all
members have some info, no one has all)
– More effective when the process is
systematic and organized
Problem Solving and Decision Making
 Effective Group Problem Solving
– Wording the discussion question
 Is it a question of fact, value, or policy?
 Is it stated clearly?
 Is it measurable?
 Does it focus on the problem?
– Discussing criteria for judging solutions
 Absolute criteria (must be met)
 Important criteria (should be met)
Problem Solving and Decision Making
– Identifying alternatives
 Brainstorming
– Evaluating alternatives
The Functions of Groups in a New Era
Making decisions
Effecting change
Negotiating conflict
Fostering creativity
Maintaining ties to stakeholders
Technology and Group
Communication Processes
 Group
Decision Support System
– Brainstorming
– Evaluation of alternatives
– Anonymous
– Efficient
How Should You Communicate in
Small Groups?
Relate your statements to preceding
Use conventional word arrangements
Speak concisely
State one point at a time
Being an Ethical Group Member
Be trustworthy and supportive
Be honest and truthful
Be thorough and unbiased when
evaluating information
Behave with integrity
Manage group conflict ethically
Comments from TAs
Head to recitation.