Managing group dynamics

Working in groups is essential to the management of projects, including Building Information Modelling (BIM) projects. Therefore, it is necessary to understand human behaviour in the context of maximising the ideas that originate from each group.

There are a wide range of theories and arguments about group dynamics and how to manage them.

The earliest recorded philosophical literature contains a great deal of wisdom about the nature of groups and the relations between individuals and groups. It also contains a variety of specifications concerning the ‘best’ ways of managing group life…

‘It is evident that the modern student of group dynamics is not essentially different in his interests from scholars writing at various times over the centuries. And yet, it is equally clear that the approach to the study of groups known as ‘group dynamics’ is strictly a twentieth-century development; it is significantly different from that of preceding centuries.’

(Cartwright and Zander 1968)

So, how do we define group dynamics?

‘According to one rather frequent usage, group dynamics refers to a sort of political ideology concerning the ways in which groups should be organized and managed.’

(Cartwright and Zander 1968)

Group dynamics is characterised by the evolvement of democratic leadership, the provision for members to be part of the decision making, and the opportunity for individuals and independent groups to work on mutual projects as part of a large group in society.

The term also refers to a series of methodologies that have been employed in the management of conferences and committees over the past couple of decades as a means of improving human relations. The techniques, which include role-playing, buzz-sessions, observation and feedback are still in use but the question is how effective are these in the era where digital groups require other techniques?

In the architecture engineering and construction industry, it is not a matter of choice to understand the way humans behave. It is important to understand group dynamics as well as how to deal with the different groups who work individually or alongside other groups because of the nature of the work.

To understand group dynamics, Cartwright and Zander (1968) suggest asking the following questions:

  • What conditions are necessary for their growth and effective functioning?
  • What factors foster the decline and disintegration of groups?
  • How do groups affect the behaviour, thinking, motivation, and adjustment of individuals?
  • What makes some groups have powerful influence over members, while other groups exert little or none?
  • What characteristics of individuals are important determinants of the properties of groups?
  • What determines the nature of relations between groups?
  • How does the social environment of a group affect its properties?

Your task

Read the following case study published in The Guardian: ‘Grenfell cladding firm denies responsibility for fire spread’.

Having read the article, share your thoughts on the importance of managing group dynamics.

Don’t forget to discuss others’ views with your fellow learners.


References

Booth, R. (2018) ‘Grenfell Cladding Firm Denies Responsibility for Fire Spread’. The Guardian [online] 5 June. Available from https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jun/05/grenfell-tower-cladding-firm-denies-responsibility-for-fire-spread Accessed on [1 August 2018]

Cartwright, D., & Zander, A. (1968). Group dynamics (3rd ed.). Oxford, England: Harper + Row.

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This article is from the free online course:

BIM Implementation within the AEC Industry

Coventry University