Management Development in ‘Unstructured’ Groups

by Charles Ferguson



The unstructured group, as it is currently being used for management development, purposes by social, governmental, and industrial organizations, was conceived by the social psychologists. In an unstructured group, authority is deliberately diffused, the staff member does not typically assume any authority in the early stages of a group, or, if he does, he usually lets it go quite quickly. No clearly defined person is boss here. The person at first assumed to be boss will not act like a boss. There seems to be no clear cut locus of authority, so the group comes to grips right off with the problem of providing an authority structure. Structure always emerges. Some subgroup or some person appropriates or is endowed by the group with authority. Sometimes the particular structure that emerges succeeds, sometimes it fails. Exercise of authority always produces consequences; it is this cause and effect relationship between the exercise of authority structures and its consequences that becomes one of the principal subject concerns of the groups.

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