Leadership and the negotiation of order in small groups


This thesis is focussed on the role differentiationhypothesis as it relates to small groups (Bales, 1958). The hypothesis is systematically examined, both conceptually and empirically, in the light of the Equilibrium Hypothesis (Bales, 1953) and the Negotiated Order Theory of leadership (e.g. Hosking, 1988). Chapter 1 sketches in a context for the research,which was stimulated by attempts during the 60s and 70s to organise small groups without leaders (the leaderless group, based on isocratic principles). Chapter 2 gives a conceptual and developmental overview of Bales' work, concentrating on the Equilibrium Hypothesis. It is argued that Bales' conceptual approach, if developed, can potentially integrate the disparate small groups and leadership literatures. Chapters 3 and 4 examine the concepts `group', `leader' and `leadership' in terms of the Negotiated Order perspective. In chapter 3 it is argued that two aspects of the concept group need to be taken separately into account; physical attributes and social psychological aspects (the metaphysical glue). It is further argued that a collection of people becomes a group only when they begin to establish a shared sense of social order. In chapter 4 it is argued that leadership is best viewed as a process of negotiation between those who influence and those who are influenced, in the context of shared values about means and ends. It is further argued that leadership is the process by which a shared sense of social order is established and maintained, thus linking the concepts `leadership' and `group' in a single formulation. The correspondences with Bales' approach are discussed at the end of the chapter. Chapters 5 to 8 present a detailed critical description and evaluation of the empirical work which claims to show role differentiation or test the hypothesis, both Bales original work and subsequent studies. It is argued here, that the measurement and analytical procedures adopted by Bales and others, in particular the use of simple means as summaries of group structures, are fundamentally flawed, and that role differentiation in relation to particular identifiable groups has not been demonstrated clearly anywhere in the literature. Chapters 9 to 13 present the empirical work conducted for the thesis. 18 small groups are examined systematically for evidence of role differentiation using an approach based on early sociometry (Moreno, 1934). The results suggest that role differentiation, as described by Bales, does not occur as often as is implied in the literature, and not equivocally in any case. In particular structures derived from Liking are typically distributed or weak. This suggests that one of Bales' principal findings, that Liking varies independently of his other main dimensions, is the product of statistical artifact. Chapter 14 presents a general summary of results and presents some considerations about future research.

Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
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Institution: Aston University
Uncontrolled Keywords: leadership,negotiation,small groups,role differentiation,group dynamics,isocracy
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2023 08:22
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2011 11:29
Completed Date: 1988
Authors: Prince, Les


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