A Business Encyclopedia

Informal Groups

Definition: The Informal groups are those groups that get created spontaneously as soon as individuals start interacting with each other.

The informal groups are formed by the individuals to satisfy their social needs of affiliation, and they emerge on their own and hence not created by the management of the organization. Now the question arises that how the informal groups come into the existence? For this, various theories have been proposed by several theorists, which are as follows:

  1. Propinquity Theory: The propinquity means nearness, hence an individual forms an affiliation with others due to the geographical proximity amongst them. In the organizational context, it is often seen that individuals working in the same department tend to affiliate with each other more than with the others who work in different departments.
  2. Homan’s Interaction Theory: According to this theory, the affiliations are based on the interactions, activities and sentiments. It is assumed that more activities people share with each other more will be the interaction among them and more sentiments they generate for each other. Here, the groups are formed not only on the basis of physical proximity but also to accomplish some common group goal.
  3. Balance Theory: This theory posits that people get attracted towards each other on the basis of the similar attitudes and common behavior they carry towards the given set of objects or goals. Once the group is formed on these common traits the group members try to maintain that balance and in case the balance is not restored, the group gets dissolved.
  4. Exchange Theory: This theory is based on the assumption that people involve in social affiliation on the basis of perceived reward-cost relationship, i.e. what an individual gets or has to forego to be a member of a certain group. The reward here means, gratifying the needs while the cost is in the form of anxiety, embarrassment, fatigue, etc.

The important thing to note is that these groups are not formal and hence are not controlled and regulated by the organization.

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