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Group: Definition, Development, Types of Groups

Group: Definition, Development, Types of Groups

by Team Businesspedia

Groups are social entities formed by individuals with shared interests, goals, or characteristics. Emerging from human needs, groups vary in structure, purpose, and dynamics, shaping diverse interpersonal connections.

What is Group?

It is a collection of two or more interacting individuals with a stable pattern of relationship between them, who share common goals and who perceive themselves as being a group.

Group Development Process/ Stages

The group development process, also known as team development, refers to the stages that groups go through as they form, learn to work together, and achieve their goals. The most widely recognized model of group development is Tuckman’s stages of group development, which outlines five distinct stages:

  1. Forming: In this initial stage, group members get to know each other, establish ground rules, and explore their roles within the group. There is often a sense of uncertainty and politeness as members try to make a good impression.
Group: Definition, Development, Types of Groups
Group Development Process
  1. Storming: As the group delves deeper into its work, differences in opinions, working styles, and personalities can emerge, leading to conflict and competition. This stage can be challenging, but it is also necessary for the group to develop trust and open communication.
  2. Norming: Through open communication and compromise, the group begins to establish norms and expectations for behavior, communication, and decision-making. This stage is crucial for building team cohesion and creating a positive work environment.
  3. Performing: In this stage, the group has matured and is able to function effectively as a unit. Members collaborate efficiently, solve problems creatively, and achieve their goals.
  4. Adjourning (optional): If the group is temporary, it will eventually reach a stage where it needs to disband. This stage involves completing tasks, saying goodbye, and reflecting on the group experience.

Types of Groups

One way to classify the groups is by way of formality – formal and informal.

Formal Groups

  • Definition: Defined by an organization or institution with a specific purpose or task. They have a predetermined structure with designated roles, rules, and procedures.
  • Examples: Work teams, committees, sports teams, project teams, government agencies.
  • Characteristics:
    • Explicit hierarchy and leadership.
    • Clearly defined goals and objectives.
    • Established rules and procedures to guide behavior.
    • Focus on achieving organizational goals efficiently.
    • Communication often follows formal channels.
Group: Definition, Development, Types of Groups
Types of Groups

Command Groups:

Definition: Command groups are hierarchical structures defined by an organization chart. They consist of a supervisor and their direct reports, forming a chain of command for decision-making and tasks.

Example: A market research firm CEO and their research associates form a command group. Here, the CEO leads and assigns tasks to the associates, who report directly back to them.

Key characteristics:

  • Clear hierarchy and leadership: Decisions and tasks flow from the supervisor down to the subordinates.
  • Formal structure: Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined based on positions within the hierarchy.
  • Focus on efficiency: The primary goal is to achieve objectives efficiently through established procedures.

Task Groups:

Definition: Task groups are temporary ensembles formed to achieve a specific, focused goal within a defined timeframe. These groups, often called task forces, are disbanded once the goal is achieved.


  • A team developing a new product.
  • A group improving a production process.
  • A committee designing a syllabus.
  • Ad hoc committees for specific complaints or process development.
  • Project groups focusing on specific initiatives.
  • Standing committees for ongoing tasks like quality control.

Key characteristics:

  • Shared goal: Members are united by a defined objective they work together to accomplish.
  • Time-bound: The group exists only for the duration needed to complete the assigned task.
  • Flexible structure: Roles and responsibilities may be adaptable depending on the task requirements.
  • Collaborative approach: Success relies on teamwork and effective communication among members.

Functional Groups:

Definition: Functional groups are permanent structures within an organization established to achieve specific, ongoing goals. Unlike task groups, they continue to exist even after completing their initial objectives.


  • Marketing department responsible for promoting and selling products.
  • Customer service department handling customer inquiries and issues.
  • Accounting department managing financial records and transactions.

Key characteristics:

  • Enduring structure: The group has a defined structure and remains in place over time.
  • Ongoing goals: Focuses on achieving consistent objectives within its functional area.
  • Specialized expertise: Members possess skills and knowledge specific to their function.
  • Collaborative workflow: Teams within the group work together towards shared departmental goals.

Informal Groups

  • Definition: Form organically based on shared interests, friendships, or common experiences. They lack a formal structure and often arise spontaneously.
  • Examples: Friend groups, hobby clubs, online communities, support groups.
  • Characteristics:
    • Flexible and dynamic structure.
    • Loosely defined goals and objectives, focused on social interaction and support.
    • Informal rules and norms established by members.
    • Emphasis on building relationships and social connection.
    • Communication flows freely and organically.

Interest Groups:

  • Definition: Enduring groups united by a shared interest beyond organizational goals.
  • Characteristics: Long-lasting, informal structure, diverse composition, specific goals unrelated to organizational objectives.
  • Example: Students forming a study group for a specific class.

Friendship Groups:

  • Definition: Informal groups based on shared activities, beliefs, or values.
  • Characteristics: Formed voluntarily, enjoy shared activities outside work, provide social connection.
  • Example: Employee yoga group, regional cultural association, monthly kitty party lunch group.

Reference Groups:

  • Definition: Groups individuals use for self-evaluation and comparison.
  • Characteristics: Shape behavior through social validation and comparison, influence attitudes and values.
  • Examples: Family, friends, religious affiliations.

Primary Groups:

  • Definition: Small, intimate groups with close personal interaction and high interdependence.
  • Characteristics: Key to socialization, develop and sustain attitudes, values, and orientations.
  • Examples: Family, close friend circles.

Secondary Groups:

  • Definition: Larger, formal groups with less frequent, impersonal interaction.
  • Characteristics: Supplement primary socialization, often organized around shared interests or goals.
  • Examples: Trade unions, member organizations (National Trust).

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