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Dynamics in meetings: on leadership and followership in ordinary meetings in different organizations
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Communications Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
1986 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

A method for analyzing interactional dynamics in regular meetings and sessions was developed on the basis of Bion's (1961) basic-assumption model. This model postulates that members in groups frequently take part in collective defence activities which prevent the group from carrying out the tasks assigned to them. According to Bion, this is an instinctive, instantaneous process which will inevitably occur when the task is too demanding or the participants' integrity is threatened. Such common and shared group movements or basic-assumption modes are looked upon as collective regressive processes based on tacit assumptions in the group. The processes are spontaneous and outside human control. Basic-assumption modes may be of four different kinds: dependence, flight, fight or pairing. These concepts are elaborated, operationalized and adapted to an empirical study comprising nine schools and two companies. Three regular meetingsin cach organization were observed by a non-involved observer and the interaction in the meetings was recorded by means of shorthand notes.

The results provide evidence for a conditional relationship between the interactional dynamics in meetings and organizational frame factors. Theoretical and practical consequences of these results are discusscd. The combination of, and oscillation betwecn, basic-assumption modes seem to be governed by behavioural patterns established in early infancy. The resumption of these patterns is unconscious but seems to be influenced by organizational factors in a systematic way. The processes also appear to be more affected by the group as a whole than by the formal leader. Therefore, leadership seems to be a process in which the group as a whole is invalved rather than just the leader.

The results indicate that there is no simple way to change or develop leadership in an organization. The search for appropriate "leader traits" or for "ideal management behaviour" seems to be impromising. However, greater knowledge, and experience of group processes occurring in regular meetings in ordinary organizations would provide leaders and followers alike with new insights into, and be a means of increasing shared responsibility for, the conditions of leadership.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 1986. , 238 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 8
Keyword [en]
group processes, leadership, followership, decision-making, the school as an organization
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-34097Local ID: 20816ISBN: 91-40-05173-0OAI: diva2:254945
Public defence
1986-10-31, Wallenbergsalen, Östergötlands och Linköpings stadsmuseum, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2013-02-18Bibliographically approved

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Granström, Kjell
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Department of Communications StudiesFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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