Group: Definitions, Features, 5 Types, Group Formation

What is a Group?

A group consists of two or more persons who interact with each other, consciously for the achievement of certain common objectives. A group is a close association of two or more individuals interacting among themselves for the accomplishment of similar goals.

Its important elements are group interaction and common goals. A group is formed to satisfy the needs of an organization. A team is a group that is formed formally by the organization for the fulfillment of common goals.

A Person joins any company as an individual and after that, he joins a group or forms a group. It is done to satisfy the needs of an organization. These needs can be psychological, social, safety, economic and cultural needs which may not be fulfilled by the organization.

Therefore, A group can be defined in terms of perceptions, motivation, organization, interdependencies, and interactions. A group is defined as two or more individuals, interacting and interdependent, who have come together to achieve particular objectives.

Definition of Group

These are the simple definitions of group given below:

A group is two or more persons who interact with one another such that each person influences and is influenced by each other person.

Marvin Shaw

An organized system of two or more individuals who are interrelated so that the system performs some function, has a standard set of role relationships among its members, and has a set of norms that regulate the function of the group and each of its members.


A group is – “A collection of individuals, the members accept a common task, become interdependent in their performance, and interact with one another to promote its accomplishment”.

Harold H. Kelley and J.W. Thibaut

Features of Group

The following are the features of group:

  1. In order to form a group, there must be at least two persons who are called members. There cannot be any specific limit on the maximum number of members in a group.

  2. The number of members of any group depends upon the circumstances, objectives to be achieved, attitudes, and aptitudes of the people joining the group.

  3. In the organizational context, there are certain rules and regulations which control the activities of the groups.

  4. It is also found that the groups influence their member’s attitudes and behaviors.

  5. There is a group structure with a hierarchical status system. Some type of leader-followership relationship develops.

  6. There are different types of groups e.g. formal groups and informal groups, friendship groups, intellectual groups, religious groups, etc.

  7. Members of a group interact among themselves in one way or another. Communication can take place face to face, in writing, over the telephone, across a computer network, etc.

  8. Because of the shared goals, certain normative behavioral patterns are established based on norms and values. The members are expected to follow these norms, values, and rules.

Types of Group

Groups may be classified into different types. The basis of differentiation may be the purpose, extent of structuring, process of formation, and size of the group membership. However, the most important types of groups in organizations are formal and informal groups:

  1. Primary and Secondary Groups
  2. Membership and Reference Groups
  3. Command and Task Groups
  4. In-Groups and Out-Groups
  5. Formal and Informal Groups
Types of Group
Types of Group

Primary and Secondary Groups

A primary group is characterized by intimate, face-to-face association and cooperation. The membership of such a group is small and is based on intimate relationships.

For example: family, and peer groups. Secondary groups are characterized by large size and individuals’ identification with values and beliefs prevailing in them rather than actual interaction. For example Occupational associations and ethnic groups.

Membership and Reference Groups

Membership groups are ones to which the individual actually belongs. For example Clubs, cooperative societies, worker’s unions, etc. Reference groups are the ones with which an individual identifies or to which he would like to belong.

Command and Task Groups

Command groups are composed of subordinates who report directly to a common superior. For example A college principal and teachers. A task group is comprised of employees who work together to complete a particular task or project.

In-Groups and Out-Groups

In-groups represent a clustering of individuals holding prevailing values in a society or at least having a dominant place in social functioning.

For example Members of a team. Out-groups are the masses or conglomerates viewed as subordinate or marginal in the culture. It is usually referred to as the minority group even though in certain instances. For example Street performers for office workers.

Formal and Informal Groups

A formal group is one that is deliberately created to perform a specific task. Members are usually appointed by the organization, but this may not always be the case.

A number of people assigned to a specific task from a formal group. One example of such a group is a committee and other examples are work units, such as a small department, or a research and development laboratory.

A distinctive feature of formal groups is that a hierarchy of authority exists, with specified members of rules. Rules, regulations, incentives, and sanctions guide the behavior of small groups and bring out the contributions of formal groups.

Informal groups, on the other hand, are created in the organization because of the operation of social and psychological forces operating at the workplace. Members create such groups for their own satisfaction and their work is not regulated by the general framework of organizational rules and regulations.

Group Formation

Groups are formed to satisfy both organizational and individual needs. They form in organizations because managers expect people working together in groups will be better able to complete and coordinate organizational tasks.

Organizations of all types are forming teams to improve some aspect of the work, such as productivity or quality.

Hence, Group formation has certain objectives. The purpose behind group formation may be task achievement problem-solving, proximity, or other socio-psychological requirements. Group formation is based on activities, interactions, and sentiments.

  1. Task Accomplishment
  2. Problem-Solving
  3. Proximity
  4. Socio-Psychological Factors
Group Formation
Group Formation

Task Accomplishment

The basic purpose of group formation is the achievement of certain objectives through task performance. Individuals come closer in order to understand the tasks and decide on the procedures of performance.

In any organization, task accomplishment is the reason for which different groups such as engineering group; marketing group, foreman’s group, and personnel groups are formed for the achievement of the organization’s goals. When an organization faces some procedural difficulties, concerned groups discuss them and evolve new techniques of production, marketing, and other functions.


When people anticipate or face certain problems, they unite to solve the problems. Unity has strength. A group provides strength to members who are willing to challenge any problem. Group behavior gives more strength to come down heavily on problems.


People form groups because of proximity and attraction toward each other. The group formation theory is based on proximity, which means that individuals affiliate because of spatial or geographical proximity. They interact frequently with each other on many topics, because this interactive communication is rewarding.

Socio-Psychological Factors

Sentiments and action uniforms bring people closer. They also form groups for safety, security, and social achievements. People cooperate with members of the group on social as well as economic grounds to reach satisfactory levels.

FAQs Section

What is the simple definition of group?

A group is two or more persons who interact with one another such that each person influences and is influenced by each other person.

What are the types of groups?

Primary and Secondary Groups, Membership and Reference Groups, Command and Task Groups, In-Groups and Out-Groups, and Formal and Informal Groups are the types of groups.

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